Story of the Door

In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde there is an emphasis on the duality of man’s nature. This duality is not fully revealed until the last chapter of the book when Jekyll says, “It was the curse of mankind that these incongruous faggots were bound together- that in the agonised womb of consciousness, these polar twins should be continuously struggling. How, then, were they dissociated?” (43) Though this duality is hinted at through the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde throughout the book, it is also hinted at through the scenery that is described in the first chapter. When Uttson and Enfield are on one of their weekly walks, they come by the dilapidated building, that we later learn is a back door to Jekyll’s house. It is described as “a certain sinister block of building thrust forward its gable on the street. It was two storeys high; showed no window, nothing but a door on the lower storey and a blind forehead of discoloured wall on the upper and bore in every feature the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence. The door, which was equipped with neither bell nor knocker, was blistered and distained…”(2) Stevenson spends a decent amount of time here describing this building which is later associated with Mr. Hyde. This description symbolically represents Mr. Hyde, who also has some of these sinister qualities. Also, the building has clearly been neglected, as has this evil side of Dr. Jekyll that he has been suppressing for so long. We don’t find out until later that this sinister place is the back entrance to Jekyll’s house. Stevenson represents this inclination for duality not only in the obvious opposing characters of Jekyll and Hyde but also of this section of the house which seems to be abandoned. The placement of this forbidding house in the middle of a relatively nice neighborhood full of shop fronts which “stood along that thoroughfare with an air of invitation, like rows of smiling saleswomen” (2), is no coincidence. It suggests that even amidst this normal high-class neighborhood there exists this dark underside, similar to the dark side that exists within Jekyll. The overt manifestation of this duality through the scenery may also suggest that this split consciousness is actually quite obvious and universal. Because the building has two different “sides”, an evil and a good side, Stevenson may be asserting that this duality is more apparent than we realize.

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