All the literary production of the Victorian age is based on the contrast between appearance and reality. Intimal feelings are always hidden to the public because the Victorian society was built on traditions and conventions. The novels of this period are the mirror of this aspects. For example, in “The picture of Dorian Gray” (1891) the picture is the symbol of this hypocrisy: outside everything had to be perfect while bad actions committed had to be hidden and locked in a room.
All the 19th century is characterized by the duplicity of life, explicated in Stevenson’s “The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, and the falsity is the basic element in literature: in Wilde’s comedy “The importance of being Earnest” (1895), lies and false suppositions show and underline the hypocrisy of society through irony and fun contradictions.
But the theme of double in literature is maybe an anticipation of the psychological research of Freud: a single person is composed of a part of consciousness and a part of unconsciousness. But if in Freud this aspect is natural and present in the human being, in the English costumes of the 19th century this is an attitude deliberately wanted, intended to hide the real – sometimes obscure – nature of human being.