Theme of Duality in Jekyll & Hyde


What is duality?

Duality Meaning: Two opposite parts of a whole.

Duality is two different sides of the world we live in. Whether that is light and dark, good and evil or yin and yang. In order to understand the whole, it is important to study each component. Each side is complementary to the other, for example, in order to become good, we must be able to recognize evil. The more knowledge we have of the nature of evil and it’s consequences, the more we can learn to understand what good can be done to prevent it. Each opposite throws the other into light and one cannot exist without the other.

Stevenson on Duality:

The point Stevenson was trying to make with Jekyll and Hyde is that everyone has duality within them, in the form of good and evil. Jekyll and Hyde are portrayals of our dual nature that is an inherent part of our personalities whether we utilize them or not.  Jekyll can be seen as the righteous, civilized and respected side of man, the one that is both accepted socially and morally. In contrast, Hyde is depicted as a savage, violent and cruel man conveying the immoral side of man. His “haunting sense of unexpressed deformity” tells us that he is almost inhuman in nature.

Their appearances also vastly contrast. Despite being the same person, their dual nature brings to live two entirely different faces. Jekyll, on one hand, appears so to a handsome, civilized gentleman, he is described as being “a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty”. On the other hand, Hyde is described as having “something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable.”

Another important aspect of duality in the novel is the houses that both characters are said to live in. Jekyll lives in a house “which wore a great air of wealth and comfort”. This also conveys his wealth and status which is a far cry from Hyde’s. In contrast, Hyde is said to have lived in a house that “bore in every feature, the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence”. It is apparent that both characters almost live entirely different lives representing their duality in nature.