One of the most notable themes in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is the duality of human nature. There are many possible topics related to this theme for you to explore and debate in your essay. Here are a few suggestions.
Consider the physical descriptions of the two titular characters: Dr. Jekyll is a typical, fully developed man, and Mr. Hyde is unusually small in size and has a strange, almost deformed appearance. What do you suppose is the reason for this physical contrast? How does Stevenson communicate the theme of dualism in human nature through his physical descriptions of these two characters?
Consider the physical descriptions of Dr. Jekyll’s and Mr. Hyde’s respective dwellings: Dr. Jekyll lives in a nice house that has a “great air of wealth and comfort.” Mr. Hyde lives in the decrepit laboratory that is attached to the back of Dr. Jekyll’s home. How do these dwellings reflect the characteristics of their inhabitants? In what ways do these homes and their differences connect to the overarching theme of the dualism in human nature?
Consider the aspect and nature of one’s dark side: Do you believe it is possible to control the dark aspects of one’s personality? Based on the story and its conclusion, what do you think Stevenson’s answer to this question would be?
Consider the spectrum of good and evil in this story: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde represent two extremes: good and evil, respectively. Are there characters in the story who occupy the middle ground between the two opposing forces? If so, who are they, and how do they demonstrate qualities of both good and evil?