Stevenson and Conrad: The Duality of Human Nature

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The Victorian Age marked a period of immense transition in many aspects of human life. In 1859 Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, a work that opposed the traditional way of perceiving religion. Candyce Klin author of “Darwinism as A Cultural Issue”, states that The Origin of Species proposed the theory that all living creatures had to compete within their own preconditions in order to survive. This may be why the controversial issue of the duality of human nature has been found at the heart of many Victorian works. The theme of the duality of man can be found in the works of two famous English authors, Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad. Stevenson and Conrad both incorporate the theme of the duality of human nature within their own novellas. Stevenson employs this theme throughout his novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and similarly Conrad employs this theme throughout his novella Heart of Darkness. In both novellas the theme is found in the literary devices of symbolism and personification. Although both works embody the theme of the duality of human nature, each author takes their own individual approach in utilizing literary techniques to help preserve this crucial theme.
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh on November 13, 1850. From a young age Stevenson was fascinated with the darker side of human nature, reflecting his abiding interest in the concept of a double life (The Norton Anthology of English Literature 1643).

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