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In both the novel Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and the novella The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, the idea of “doubles” emphasizes how imperative it is to illustrate characters and symbols in pairs. Adichie gives the reader a visualization of a yellow sun. The sun represents the struggle of the Nigerian-Biafran war (1967-1970), a time of turmoil and commotion, where the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra fought for its independence from Nigeria, but being larger and stronger, Nigeria easily refused to accept this entitlement.
Similarly, in Robert Stevenson’s novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the character Dr. Jekyll represents the struggle between good and evil within one body. Dr. Jekyll develops a potion that transforms him into Mr. Hyde, which ultimately creates a disturbance between himself (Dr. Jekyll) and his evil alter-ego (Mr. Hyde). In Dr. Jekyll’s life-war, Mr. Hyde wins since he has a stronger grip on Jekyll’s life.
Through Adichie’s symbolic doubling and domestic turbulence, and Stevenson’s display of disturbance in the lives of both Jekyll and Hyde, each author uses doubles to demonstrate how entities that are forced to split in two can lead to misery in each pair.
Half of a Yellow Sun, Adichie uses symbolism in a unique way to portray that creating a “double” is very difficult and when forced to, scenarios can become chaotic. The author exemplifies this concept by using symbols, the yellow sun along with the Nigerian-Biafra war.
Moreover, she expresses the Nigerian Civil War was fought to reintegrate and reunify the country, however instead the opposite occurred. She displays this to the reader when she states “Biafra win the war – Olanna watched as Odenigbo sang lustily, and she tried to sing too, but the words lay stale on her tongue” (345). She illustrates this again when she says “Olanna jumped each time she heard the thunder, she imagined another air raid, bombs rolling out of a plane and exploding “(327). Adichie conveys to the reader that the only thing people of Nigeria have in common is the name of their country. This alone is an insufficient basis for true unity and combination in creating a “double” within one entity. Additionally, the whole country slowly starts to break down, and this unrest highlights sectarian divisions within the republic. Nigeria forces division between itself and Biafra upon the people of their land, thus causing uproar bringing darkness upon on its country. Adichie has taken this large concept of “doubles” and simplified it to a more personal level for her readers by depicting the sense of “pairs” vividly and poignantly through the eyes of well-crafted characters and symbols.
The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson uses a similar style of imagery to depict Dr. Jekyll’s frustrating misery in his life along with his evil alter ego (Mr. Hyde). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde centers upon a conception of humanity as dual in nature, Stevenson reveals this later in the novella rather than earlier on purpose. Stevenson leaves the reader preoccupied and pensive, driving readers to create their own theory about Jekyll’s dual nature. In comparison, Half of a Yellow Sun, when forced to create a “double” this duo nature then becomes hectic and unruly. This is personified when Dr. Jekyll states “it was the curse of mankind that these incongruous faggots were thus bound together – these polar twins should be continuously struggling” (56). Thus, in Jekyll’s view, every soul contains elements of both good and evil, but one is always dominant. However Jekyll’s life war becomes a stalemate, one of which has no evident victor. Good and evil should never be combined within one entity, nonetheless when forced to the consequences can be unbearable. This intolerance is evident when Jekyll says “struggling after freedom and at last in an hour of moral weakness” (63). The fear, sorrow and mayhem that citizens of Biafara are faced with is associated with the fear and sorrow that has captured the soul of Dr. Jekyll.
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