Stevenson’s use of conflict in his book, The Strange Case of Jekyll & Hyde, demonstrates the social issues and difficulties of the middle class in the Victorian era, Industrial Revolution. Stevenson does this by outline the duality, or dual personality shown by one of the main characters of the story, Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll is an Victorian age doctor, who has experimented by the sources of the unknown realm. His desire for so called, Liberation from the bondage of morality, has been the cause for a potion, that allowed his evil half to take over in human form.
This side of Jekyll, throughout the book, is referred to as, Mr. Hyde, and has been the corrupting and dark force that has influenced the behavior of the people near him. Jekyll’s wanting to be free of the moral standards place forth by society, and the abandoning of religion, has imprisoned him even more, when his evil side, Mr. Hyde, slowly starts to take over his body, and control the way he behaves and thinks. Jekyll’s ignorance of the importance of good conduct towards others, is linked to the dark side of the Industrial Revolution. In time of Darwinism, and the abandoning of organized religion within Western Europe, Stevenson’s dark and gloomy depiction of Dr. Jekyll, is a warning to the dangers that await in the continued practice of the abandoning of moral standards and organized religion.
Stevenson frequently uses duality, to depict the dual nature of human life. For example, the corruption and the terror caused in the town where the plot resides, is blamed on Mr. Hyde. Hyde is described as deformed, andmenacing. His influence on people corrupts them, and causes them to lose their moral obligations. Mr. Hyde, is however, the same person as Dr. Jekyll. This was contrary to what Mr. Utterson believed. Utterson believed that Dr. Jekyll was being held captive, by Mr. Hyde. However, through Utterson’s unusual and sudden obsession with seeking information on who and why Hyde is that way he is, discovered that Jekyll’s desire for liberation from the chains of morality, caused him to develop an potion, that allows his dual nature, to take over. Jekyll, not realizing that his other evil side, is slowly corrupt him, and compromising his other personalities and traits.
Stevenson continues on to portray his message in this book. He uses the potion taken by Dr. Jekyll, as a symbol for the motives of the bad behavior done by the people in the Victorian age. The potion taken by Dr. Jekyll is what allows his Bad side, to take over his other traits. He freelingly does as he pleases, with the expense of others. The potion is what allowed all the evil done by Mr. Hyde to take place. This was brought into detail by Stevenson, to exposed the dangers of Darwinson and Humanism, which both did excused the bad practices and behavior of the Victorian people. Stevenson is warning against the continued practice of Humanism, which will destroy the peace and security of society. Stevenson advocates for a guiding principle and force, other than ourselves.
The book also served as a platform in which Stevenson is given the opportunity to express his thoughts and beliefs on the rapidly rising, Industrial Revolution. Stevenson is portrayed in a character called, “Dr. Lanyon”, and he is an recurring character, who is seen as an opponent to Dr. Jekyll. Dr. Lanyon in the book, has had close ties with Jekyll, and has seen the horrifying scientific advancements attempts by Jekyll. Dr. Lanyon in the end, is dealing with a illness, which is due to him witnessing what Jekyll really was pursuing for. Lanyon’s view of the technological advancements of the Victorian age, Industrial Revolution, is both negative and afraid of the possible outcomes of it.
Stevenson uses duality, to advocate for the importance of having moral standards and civil responsibilities to ensure that the “dual nature” of human life, is not wholly composed of pure “evil”. The Industrial Revolution was time of technological advancement, while at the same time being dark and gloomy. The lives of majority of the people were not improved, and many suffered the horrible and consequential behavior of people similar to Mr. Hyde.