“And yet when I looked upon that ugly idol in the glass, I was conscious of no repugnance, rather a leap of welcome. This, too, was myself.” Dr Jekyll’s recognition here unsettles the easy way of reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, where Hyde is imagined merely as a terrifying monster who must be destroyed. With close attention to the text, argue whether Dr Jekyll ; Mr Hyde shows good and evil as linked or separable in human nature.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a classic mystery story, enticing to all audiences merely upon it’s suspense alone. When Stevenson first wrote the story (after recalling a dream he had) he had only the intentions of writing such an entertaining tale. Yet at the suggestion of his wife, he decided to revamp the mystery to comment on the dual nature of man and of society in general.
I believe that Stevenson is suggesting that “All human beingsare commingled out of good and evil.”, as spoken by Dr Jekyll.
HYPOCRISY & THE GOOD MAN
Stevenson is suggesting that good and evil are inseparable in human nature. By discussing such themes as the hypocrisy of society, and the suppression of passion he proves that Stevenson proposes that we must feed our evil souls as well as the good.
Throughout the novel Stevenson portrays the central characters Utterson, Lanyon, Enfield and Jekyll as, to put it plainly boring. Each of these characters appears to be a fine, upstanding citizen, yet inside they harbour deep desires they consider as blasphemous as a short skirt on Sunday. Utterson enjoys wine, whilst the other characters allude to prostitutes, betting halls and public houses.
All of these “indulgences” are deemed unacceptable, forcing Victorian society to subdue their urges, and focus upon being “good.” Most of the noblemen succeed at this strange game of deception, throughout the novel Utterson is referred to as good, a “good man” on countless occasions.
Dr Jekyll also develops a guise of a pure “good man”. Yet, he finds it hard to subdue his evil side, and in an apparent bout of physicians curiosity’ he decides to develop a potion which decides the self into good and evil.
Jekyll has realised and accepted his evil side although he as yet doesn’t desire to embrace it. Many of the other characters support this idea of inseparable good and evil, almost subconsciously it seems. For example the friendship between the “good” Utterson and the questionable Enfield seems to flourish rather than wither due to their complete opposites in personality. Lanyon, another “good” man, is also described as “somewhat theatrical”, hardly a compliment in the uptight Victorian era in which the story is set.
I believe the most telling proof that good and evil is linked within us, as told by Stevenson is the reaction of the characters to Hyde.
Hyde is a manifestation of all that is evil, so menacing that Dr Lanyon quickly keels over after witnessing the transformation from good Jekyll to evil Hyde. Throughout the novel much effort is made upon Stevenson’s behalf to portray Hyde’s menace, there is nothing comical about the trampling of the little girl on the street corner, or the slaying of Sir Danvers Carew.
Hyde clearly represents the beast in a man, and is portrayed using several animalistic images. When initially confronted by Utterson he is depicted as “hissing” like a cornered snake, he is described by Poole as screaming “like a rat”, his movements are likened to that of a monkey, and his shrieks of “mere animal terror”. Jekyll describes his altar ego as “the animal within me, licking the chops of memory”, and discovers hair growing upon the back of his hand after his first involuntary Hyde transformation.
Without doubt, is aiming to depict Hyde as an animal. Yet it is not his appearance which causes such unrest in all the characters who meet him. Rather it his essence of pure evil which they sense, Enfield described him as “like Satan”, and Utterson as “having Satan’s signature”. Hyde is pure evil.
Stevenson suggests, by the immense disgusted reactions of the characters who meet him, that to see Hyde, is to see your own evil manifestation. In wanting to kill Hyde, they are rejecting what is in fact part of themselves.
This leads to Stevenson’s most poignant social commentary within the novel. That suppression almost always precedes violence.
The suppression of the less socially acceptable facets of the human personality can lead to sudden, violent outpouring, as seen in Hyde’s many despicable acts.
The greatest hypocrite throughout the novel is Jekyll. Although he admits that he enjoys the wicked part of his nature, he cannot accept it as part of him, and therefore seeks, and achieves to separate it from him with scientific experiments. This denial leads to his destruction, and this destruction proves that evil and good are inseparable in human nature, as when each aren’t recognised they result in explosions from either side, until the self is eventually imploded.
The final chapter of the novel is the most revealing, as with most stories. Jekyll’s inner experiment with good and evil are explored and the consequences laid before the reader, Hyde’s brushes with crime, and Jekyll’s remorse
Part of Jekyll’s ambivalence lies in his attitude to evil, in the fact that he regards the throwing off of moral control as liberation. It is not so much that he wishes to embark on a journey of lust, is that he cannot tolerate the notion that certain behaviour is absolutely prohibited. In this ambivalence, Jekyll embodies the hypocrisy that Stevenson sought to expose.
An example of this hypocrisy is evident when Jekyll describes hiring a maid for Hydes apartment whom he is familiar with her decorum and silence. This statement is extremely revealing: he evidently has used her for some elicit purpose in the past. Jekyll’s sin is not in being evil, but in living the sedate lifestyle while hypocritically wishing for, and indulging in, the opposite.
By assuming the facade of Hyde, Jekyll is able to pursue his wildest dreams without suffering the consequences. In this way, he maintains his respectability while also pursuing a career in crime.
The story begins with Jekyll’s desire to separate the moral aspects of his self so that he might have vibrant and wicked experiences without remorse. The cost of this selfishness, however, is a lethal twist of dominance
When Dr Jekyll attempts to hide from his evil self, Hyde (a nice pun upon Stevenson’s behalf) he is lost, as his evil side is suppressed, and eventually explodes, leaving both Hyde and Jekyll gone in an imminently evil act of suicide. This proves that throughout Dr Jekyll & mr Hyde Stevenson is suggesting that good and evil are linked in human nature.
Another damining factor in the case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, proving the linkage of good and evil is that, allthugh Jekyll states”I can be rid of Mr. Hyde at any point.”,t is an issue of control versus the lack of control. This debate is encountered throughout the novel does Jekyll have control of Hyde or is it something that is merely out of his control. The latter seems more true. I believe that Stevenson is comparing Jekyll’s dependence on Hyde to an the addiction of drugs for substance abusers. While those victims repeatedly say, “I could stop whenever I want,” in reality, like Dr. Jekyll, they are not in control.
The singular enlightening moment is when Dr Jekyll realises himself that Hyde is part of him., “And yet when I looked upon that ugly idol in the glass, I was concious of no repugnance, rather, a leap of welcome. This, too, was myself.” Although he fights Hyde consistently throughout the novel, this one moment of weakness, when jekyll Affirmates that Hyde, his evil side, is indeed appreciated proves conclusively that Dr jekyll and mr Hyde shows good and evil as linked in hauman nature.