Within the first read of ‘The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde’ has brought up some reoccurring themes of brutality and especially duality. Within the first paragraph when the maid witness the crime, repetition is used to emphasize the brutal nature of the crime. Words and phrases such as “ferocity,” “startling,” “stamp,” “trampling,” and “blows”(Stevenson,1886) are repeated, intensifying the violence and makes a shocking and vivid image to the maids and the readers. This violence is greatly contrasted by how the old gentleman acted in the previous sentence, highlighting the improper and violence attitude Mr. Hyde has “it seemed to breathe such an innocent and old-world kindness of disposition, yet with something high too, as of a well-founded self-content” (Stevenson,1886).
There are other motifs that also highlights the contrast and duality within a person’s character. The moonlight and the fog are contrasting motifs that contribute to the atmosphere and foreshadow the duality of characters. The moon, representing innocence and purity, illuminates the scene and initially casts a gentle light on the old gentleman, physically making him good-natured. In contrast, the fog symbolizes hidden agendas and obscurity, hinting at the second nature of Mr. Hyde’s true self. The contrast characters of the old gentleman and Mr. Hyde makes up the whole passage . The former embodies innocence, old-world kindness, and good-hearted while the latter is characterized by impatience, anger, and an animalistic nature. Making all of these foreshadowing and contrasting could be seen as the author trying to create a sense of suspense, deepening the impact of the crime, and highlight the contrasting personalities of the characters involved.
From my perspective, I think this passage can be seen as an exploration of the duality of human nature and the consequences of suppressing one’s darker impulses. The scandalous nature of Mr. Hyde’s actions is heightened by his high social status, which adds a layer of shock to the narrative. Mr. Hyde represents the embodiment of Jekyll’s repressed animalistic behavior and immoral tendencies, which are considered taboo by society while the old gentleman is what society considers as proper. This duality becomes scandalous because it challenges the conventional beliefs of respectability and the expectation that individuals of high social standing should embody only proper qualities. It also conveys the pressure of the 19th century view on class and how the maid’s witness can damage Mr. Hyde reputation as an elite.