In the novel, “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” which was written by Stevenson in 1886, a doctor known as Henry Jekyll is curious to know if it is possible to separate the two sides of human nature, good and evil. In his basement he creates a concoction to try and this is were Mr Hyde is introduced to the story. Jekyll drinks the potion and transforms into Hyde. Hyde is a prime example of pure evil, the complete opposite of Dr Jekyll but later on he is taken over by Hyde and it shows through him wanting to transform again after all of the crimes committed by his dark side. Stevenson’s objective for the novel was to get the reader to realize that nobody is perfect and everybody has a dark side to their personality.
The Victorian era started in 1837 and ended in1901. This was how long Queen Victoria ruled for. Society in London was very posh and rich during that era. In the novel Dr Jekyll is one of these rich people. Although London was said to be a civilised place there were actually a few criminals who committed horrific rapes, decapitations and murders. Jack the ripper is one of them. This side of society back then represents Mr Hyde. London back then had dark fogy nights and some rainy nights, identical to the nights described in Jekyll and Hyde.
“nine in the morning, and the first fog of the season… as the cab drew up before the address indicated, the fog lifted a little and showed him a dingy street.”
The setting is choosing Mr Utterson’s path. The setting gives a picture that evil is trying to pick out Utterson’s path, luring him into evil. The “Fog” gives the audience an airy and tense atmosphere. You feel that anything could happen and that evil is lurking somewhere beyond the fog but it is undetectable. Just like Mr Hyde, whatever will happen next is unpredictable. There is also a sense of suspicion as “the fog lifted a little and showed him a dingy street.” We wonder why the fog shows him a dingy street which is most likely infested with evil beings and we also wonder if Mr Utterson is wandering into a trap and this intensifies the suspence.
Evil masterminds aren’t handsome and this shows when Hyde looks into the mirror for the first time for the audience to see.
“He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance, something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked…”
He sounds like a hideous monster, deformed and gives the woman a feeling of hatred when she sees him. Most villains look discomforting like the ones in movies. Jekyll on the other hand is the complete opposite, handsome and liked by the women in the novel. This shows the difference between the good and evil in the novel and contributes to Stevenson’s objective of getting the reader to see the difference between good and evil.
Hyde’s actions are animalistic and he shows a sign of superhuman strength when he beats Carew so rapidly his cane snaps and Carew dies. This emphasizes his anger towards Carew and this unprovoked attack is so brutal, it makes the made at the window faint from shock.
“…and at that Mr Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth. And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under his foot and hailing down a storm of blows, under which bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway. At the horror of these sights, the maid fainted.”
This description shows how relentless Hyde is and he doesn’t hold back his anger and lets loose a barrage of bone shattering blows. It is clear to the audience that he has channelled his anger into his physical strength then unleashes is all on Carew and the fact that Carew is beaten to death further expresses his anger and hatred towards Carew. His actions gives us an insight of what he is physically capable of doing and also makes us wonder if he is a human or a savage beast with intense strength.
Back in those times reputation was a key factor to a well known wealthy person’s life and Hyde lives on a dull dingy street whereas Jekyll lives in his humble abode to avoid being found out by Utterson and Enfield. They both are suspicious about Jekyll and want to find him out but they are unsure if they should ruin his reputation, so instead they keep a close eye on him and ask him a few questions. The information they find out they want to keep to themselves because they don’t want to ruin Jekyll’s reputation in case he is innocent. Utterson and his acquaintance Mr Enfield do all they can to identify who Hyde really is. What gets them thinking is when Hyde “tramples calmly over the little girl” and Utterson wants Hyde to pay ï¿½100 compensation and when he does, they realize that it is signed by Dr Henry Jekyll but they both promise never to talk about the case again, so they don’t let it out into the public.
Hyde is able to stay hidden from the two lawyers because of the area he lives in. The area is dirty, dingy, smelly and full of the low classed people. This way Hyde can keep a low profile and high status people won’t voyage into this area and spot Hyde. He blends in with all of the citizens there. The women are poor and very savage and referred to as “Wild harpies”
“And all the time, as we were pitching it in red hot, we were keeping the women off him as best we could, for they were as wild as harpies”
This quote emphasizes the violent side to these women. They have unleashed their dark side, just like Hyde was unleashed from Jekyll and when Hyde gets into trouble, a woman laughs and says he deserves it. This lady shows her dark side and no remorse at this comment towards Mr Hyde. This makes you realize that not only Dr Jekyll has an evil side to his personality. This also makes us realise that everyone has an evil side to their personality.
Stevenson presents the evil side of human nature in his novel, however he also captures the good side of human nature and this is shown when Henry Jekyll admits to his own guilt.
“The pleasures which I made haste to seek my disguise were, as I have said, undignified; I would scarce use a harder term. But in the hands of Edward Hyde, they soon began to turn towards monstrous… it was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse.”
Dr Jekyll is admitting to his mistakes and he reveals to us that Hyde was his disguise. He is taking responsibility for unleashing his dark side which is Hyde and refers to his actions as “undignified”. This shows that there is a good side to every human and he has displayed this through revealing that Hyde was to blame for all of the crimes committed and that Jekyll (his good side) was no worse.
Overall Stevenson has shown us that no human is perfect. Everyone has a darker side to their personality. Good and evil is a regular part of human nature. Stevenson makes us realise that we are all capable of doing bad things but all choose not to for a variety of reasons.