Can someone please give me a mark or at least feedback on my Jekyll and Hyde essay?Watch this thread
My exam board is AQA and the question is on the duality of man
Question – How does Stevenson present the dual nature of man?
Stevenson explores the duality of man through Jekyll’s inner struggle between his repressed desires and morality and the dual, hypocritical nature of society at the time.
During the Victorian era, middle-class men were expected to behave in an extremely “austere” manner in order to be reputable gentlemen. Any sort of debaucheries would have meant that society would have shunned, judged and rejected them and ruined their reputation. This almost forced many people to live a duplicitous life where they act morally during the day but indulge in their sins during the night. This is evident with Stevenson using the weather to reflect key events in the novella; “a fog rolled over the city in the small hours, the early part of the night was cloudless”. The mysterious noun “fog” has connotations of secrecy and concealment and is symbolic of how Victorians would hide their desires and debaucheries throughout the day. However, Stevenson exposes this hypocrisy through the clear adjective “cloudless” which emphasises how apparent their sins were; “cloudless” links to the theme of appearances and reality where these gentlemen seem to be sinless and (innocent) but take part in these acts and that London’s true nature is “nocturnal”. Another example to reinforce this is when Utterson is looking for Mr. Hyde in Soho, “the fog lifted a little and showed him a dingy street, a gin palace… a morning glass”. The fact that as soon as Utterson tries to find Hyde, the “thick fog” , which is just a superficial barrier, moved quickly and all of the debaucheries were revealed is symbolic of how easy it is to find the evil within you and that is easy to fall into the trap of sins. Perhaps Stevenson shows how repression can cause you to fall into a dangerous trap of excessive sin. The fact that the “fog settled down” could be metaphoric for how despite knowing these debaucheries and duplicitous life styles exist, Victorian gentlemen were so static in their views that’s they would still choose to conceal the truth before them (the “fog” settling).
Alternatively, the “fog” imagery could also allude to repressed homosexuality; Jekyll’s “undignified” liking for the “elderly man” is apparent when the “fog” was partially “broken up”. This further emphasises the “fog” being a superficial barrier, concealing truths that many Victorian’s would choose to overlook. The scandalous adjective “undignified” evokes alarm to a Christian reader as “undignified” has connotations of sordid and disreputable behaviour. At the time, homosexuality would be considered as a major sin, one which was only thought to be present in the lower class, so having subtle details exposed when the fog was just partially “broken up” could be Stevenson’s way of hinting at what could be viewed as Jekyll’s repressed homosexuality. This would shock and appal a pious reader; how could such a reputable doctor commit such a sin? Homosexuality, for this reason, had to stay hidden as it would cause too much scandal in the society of that era and would have been unaccepted and therefore meant many people had to live a dual life where they would pretend to adhere these feelings.
Furthermore, Jekyll’s construct of Hyde allows him to allow him to indulge in his sins and he “can be rid of Hyde” whenever he pleases. This is deeply ironic near the end of the novella where Jekyll is described as a “disconsolate prisoner”; the irony here is that at first Hyde was the “prisoner” of Jekyll’s good nature and mannerisms but now Jekyll is the “prisoner”, enslaved by his own sinful drives. The fact that Jekyll realised his own evil alter ego was becoming out of control and that he couldn’t tame this evil within him anymore is Stevenson highlighting how good and evil are “polar twins” that cannot be separated, otherwise, there will be detrimental effects (Jekyll’s demise). Jekyll wanted to live this dual lifestyle so that his repressed desires wouldn’t damage his reputation. Here, Jekyll’s Christian morality may be commendable as he wants to separate the good and evil within him so that he doesn’t have to sin at all (unlike other Victorian gentlemen that still sin). A modern reader would feel sympathy for Jekyll as his desires have been repressed to such an extent that he had no other way to live his life but separate his morality and desires which ultimately led to his demise.
My best advice is that you really need to plan your essay out before you start writing. At the moment, you have lots of thoughts, but this is not structured into a cohesive argument. There is a lot here about the 'fog' which you mention, veer away from, and then return to. Planning your answer out before you start means that you avoid this sort of repetition, and you logically cover the main points required to give a robust answer.
In terms of structure, you need an introduction, and you need a conclusion that reflects back your main thoughts. There are lots of resources on here about how to structure on essay. Each paragraph should focus on one element of the text- for example - paragraph 1 might be how the plot is all about duality. paragraph 2 then will be about characters and characterisation. paragraph 3 might be about the setting. paragraph 4, about recurring metaphors or language. Each paragraph requires a developed argument. So - let's look at character - your argument here is that Stevenson shows the dual nature of man, by presenting a character who occupies two polar extremes - of good and evil - Dr Jekyll, the respectable society doctor, who is transformed into the diabolical Mr Hyde. Now, you want to present the examiner with quotes that show Dr Jekyll is respectable, and the other part of his nature is diabolical. You'll develop this argument by showing the struggle between good and evil and how this is realised, again using supporting quotes. You'll then go on to show how this struggle is resolved, with supporting quotes. Then we move onto our next paragraph, where you will start with an opening sentence stating what you are going to discuss next, and once again develop an argument.
Good scholarship in English literature is about presenting what is in the text, analysing it, and constructing an argument. We don't deal in generalities. A very famous linguist said "there is nothing outside the text". So, everything has to be about what is in the pages of Stevenson's work. If you cannot find a good quote to support the argument you want to make, then your argument is flawed.
I hope all this helps you. I know it feels a bit overwhelming getting a lot of critique in one go. Don't lose heart. Plan your essay out before you start, and you will instantly improve your grade. Good luck.