In this Gothic novella, Robert Louis Stevenson combines the horrors of the human soul with a disgust for the Victorian importance of reputation. Stevenson delves into the darkest depths of humanity, and seems to discover what Sigmund Freud would not publish for another 15 years: the repression of the id, or the instinctive side of human nature, by the super-ego, or the part of us that holds on to the cultural ideals and rules we were raised with. Stevenson’s wife noted in her reading of his first draft of the novella that it read like an allegory, and indeed, it reflected the Victorian struggle of the "double self." The Victorian society in England was so caught up in morality and virtue, that many things deemed "fun" or "pleasurable" were termed sin. Piano legs were called "limbs" because the word "leg" was thought of as sinful. Stevenson explores this duality of human nature, of virtue for the sake of reputation, versus the need for freedom to keep from going insane—or, even worse, bored.
In the simplest of terms, a doppelganger is someone’s twin, or double. Often times, doppelgangers are used to reference celebrity lookalikes, or recent interesting news stories where people who look like twins meet on a plane. Sometimes, a doppelganger can be the "evil twin"; it can also be representative of a double-life.
Could Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde ever happen in the real world? Yes! In fact, psychologists currently term this as Dissociative Identity Disorder (also called Multiple Personality Disorder).
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