Exploring duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

When Stevenson wrote the novella ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ he seemed to have been influenced by various ideas. The first goes all the way back to an ancient Greek philosopher ‘Plato’. His theory of dualism was imaged as two horses clashing with one another. He believed that every human being was a charioteer trying to keep them balanced and in control. One horse being black representing the animal demonic side; this is the side being harder to control and contains instinctive drives.

This expresses the dark side. Stevenson took this concept to another level and gave off the impression that in his novella the dark horse had been liberated taking over the white horse. The white horse portrayed intelligence, moral senses, and the angelic side of mankind. This side had less energy but responded to all the commands exactly. Jekyll evidently being a scientist had more characteristics of the higher horse (white), but every one has a demonic side it is natural to have a bit of dark side to them.

Hyde stood by the dark horse he was all defective and didn’t take any consequences for his actions.

Hyde’s charter was vey monstrous and beastly. This takes me onto the idea of Charles Darwin; his concept to duality was the idea of there being a ‘beast in a man’. He believed that mankind originated from apes. He also believed that there was two parts to human nature. Stevenson took this to an extreme when he introduced the character ‘Hyde’.

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Although there isn’t an exact description of Hyde’s appearance, Enfield did say in the first chapter “He is not easy to describe, there is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable”, “and he must be deformed somewhere”. This quote is the best to show the beastliness of Hyde. His actions also are not very human like a good example of this is when he tramples over a little girl. Stevenson adapts Darwin’s idea to his novella.

The third and final influence was the Victorian society at the time. In this society men were forced to ‘hide’ their secrets from their public lives. There was a lot of hypocrisy in the Victorian times. People said one thing and did the other. Stevenson takes this idea; this influence is proved in the first chapter when Enfield and Mr Utterson talk about ‘Hyde’. “No sir I had a delicacy; was the reply ‘I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgement. You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone, you sit quietly on top of the hill; and away the stone goes, starting other;” “and the family have to change their name.

No sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask. This is stating the fact that people in the Victorian times stayed out of each other business as they didn’t want people to ask about their personal lives. Men in those times got away with almost anything in Hyde’s case he got away with murder. People kept them selves to their selves, but they felt it was right to ask about other people. This shows dualism in a way that people were two faced as they kept secrets form each other.

Before Jekyll become a scientist he was a very happy man that loved life and lived it to the fullest. Jekyll was born with everything given to him, he wanted to enjoy life but also wanted to have a status in the public eye; he wanted both things. This explains the duality of life. Jekyll says in one of the chapters ‘in concealed in on my own pleasures’ this means that his pleasure and desires were kept to him self. In order to achieve in life, he felt that he had to hide his faults from the world.

The first information we are given about Dr Jekyll is form his old friend Dr Lanyon; he mentions the reason why they do not see much of each other. “Jekyll became too fanciful for me”. And that Dr Jekyll was interested in “such unscientific balderdash” This partly explains Jekyll personality as these comments would make the reader curious to know what Dr. Jekyll is up to. Later in the novella Jekyll makes his first appearance, he is described to be a ‘large, well made, smooth-faced man of fifty…but every mark of capacity and kindness”. To the reader he appears to be a kind man who you would not expect to do anything wrong.

This is a sign of dualism in a way that Jekyll is given a false upfront of what he is really like. Jekyll also describes his personality as a “gaiety of disposition” Stevenson deliberately made this quote vague, but it instantly shows the slyness in Dr Jekyll does not want to tell anyone about his personality or life and exactly the things he got up to. This was because in the Victorian times you couldn’t talk about ‘prostitutes’ this was classed as completely wrong, you would be discarded from the society. Jekyll wanted to explore the dualism in a man and so he did; split his personality into good and evil. This is why he came up with the potion.

When Jekyll first take the potion he describes his feelings in ‘The strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ Jekyll says at first ‘The most racking pangs succeeded’ he was in great pain, but then rapidly the feelings changed to the ‘incredibly sweet’ ” I felt younger, lighter, happier in the body” already he experiences freedom. Jekyll was able to see a new side to the world, the evil side! He explains that these feelings ‘delighted him like wine’. Moreover, Jekyll desire from early life is to separate the two selves that are apparent but equally present. Jekyll learns how to free Hyde. But did try to control Hyde coming out, when Jekyll tries to cage Hyde for good, when he tried this Hyde didn’t come out for a long time, but Hyde was itching to come out, in the end Hyde burst out stronger than ever and becomes the more dominant one.

Hyde was the powerful one while Jekyll loses the control he could maintain when he alone had actions. Jekyll becomes addicted to Hyde there for more dosages were needed. Eventually it is clear that Dr Jekyll is no longer in conduct of the transformation. In Henry Jekyll full statement of the case he says ‘I had not wakened where I seemed to be but in the little room in Soho where I was accustomed to sleep in the body of Edward Hyde’ Jekyll says he wasn’t in control anymore. A proof of this is when he says “yes I had gone to bed Henry Jekyll, I had awakened Edward Hyde”

Dr Jekyll is more accepted into the society as being a scientist, people look up to him and respects him. In Jekyll full statement of the case he says “I found it hard to reconcile with my imperious desire to carry my head high, and wear a more than commonly grave countenance before the public”. This is telling us that Jekyll is giving off the impression that he is good at his profession almost being bigheaded.

Hyde is the complete opposite his actions do not have consequences; Hyde’s behaviour is very ape like, just like his appearance (this goes back to Darwin’s theory.)The other characters cannot describe his outside shell as it is too hideous to describe. Hyde’s character is extremely cruel and evil. For example when he just tramples over the child in the first chapter, this shows the lack of respect for others. It also shows he is amoral.

Stevenson used this marked contrast to make his point in dualism; every human being contains opposite forces within them, there’s always a different person behind a facade. This shows dualism in a whole different level. Stevenson used an aptonym for Hyde as his character “hides” in another character. The style of Stevenson’s writing is sometimes complicated as some of the sentences are longer than modern readers would normally read. Also the vocabulary is dated, and a lot of the words in the novel are no longer used.

The most complex parts of the story are in Jekyll’s confession at the end. Sometimes Stevenson uses metaphors such as when Mr Enfield describes where he first met Mr Hyde as “some place at the end of the world”. He uses a lot of similes to show how inhuman Hyde really is, for example “like some damned Juggernaut” and “like Satan”. Alliteration highlights the unpleasantness of Mr Hyde; he is described as “downright detestable” and “hardly human”. Onomatopoeia emphasises the animal qualities of Mr Hyde by describing the sounds he makes as “hissing”, “snarled” and “husky”.

Throughout the novella the theme of ‘hypocrisy’ is very large. Almost every character is a hypocrite take for example the police man. When the police man realised that the victim of the murder was a famous MP. You can tell from the police man face that his professional ambition meant a lot, as this would better his career and maybe lead to an early retirement. Jekyll is the ultimate hypocrite in the novella although he lives part of his life as someone else he cannot accept the natural evil inside him so he separates them. Hyde’s house keeper is another character that shows hypocrisy. She displays “odious joys” when she hears that her employer, Mr Hyde is in trouble with the police. She is described as having a face that is “worn smooth” with hypocrisy.

Stevenson often uses the weather to reflect the evil within the surroundings. For example some scenes are described as foggy, which creates a sense of eeriness and mystery. Also wind is used to make the environment seem like it is full of violence and menace. Changes in the weather, for instance when Poole and Utterson are getting ready to break into Jekyll’s laboratory, also create a dark and evil atmosphere as when the wind caused the clouds to cover the moon. The house itself shows secret and hypocrisy as well. In contrast the door of Dr. Jekyll home “wore a great air of wealth and comfort”, whilst the inside of the house is described as “warmed … by a bright, open fire, and furnished with costly cabinets of oak”. The good friend of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Utterson, often spoke of it as “the pleasantest room in London.”

This gives a totally different impression to that of Mr Hyde’s home. The description of Mr Hyde’s door would make it appear that the house was abandoned by the state of it. But as you enter the house there is a sense of elegance, luxury and good taste. You would expect it to be empty and unclean. A Victorian reader would not associate these two people together as they both live in different environments. They would only realise the association between them when Mr Hyde presents a cheque to the child’s family, bearing Dr. Jekyll name. This would make the reader curious of how these two know each other. However later on the reader is surprised to see that the inside of Mr Hyde’s house contains good wines, good pictures, silver plates, elegant table linen and thick carpets. These are items you would expect to see in Dr. Jekyll house.

The dualism in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is almost similar to the modern days. Jekyll as a scientist had a super ego. He was very intelligent to come up with a potion that split a mans personality, but when the character Hyde occurs, he is the complete opposite. As humans we want a balanced ego, we want desires to be fulfilled but not all desires are good. So this makes a dynamic equilibrium. This was the theory of Freud. Jekyll is dominated by superego but Hyde being the id is trying to push his way in, which he does succeed in the end. In my opinion I think that Jekyll has a balanced ego as in the end he wanted to destroy both good and evil. I think this shows he is being considerate as he could have carried on being Hyde if he wanted to. “There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to my evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul”. I think this is Jekyll thinking in terms of his super ego as I think this quote shows that he wants to get rid of Hyde as the emphasis is on the word “finally”.

The dualism in the story is significant to the book, without duality in the book it would have a different perspective on the whole. Stevenson’s main aim was to put his point across about duality. Stevenson reveals that the duality of human nature runs deeper than good and evil to rational versus and reputation versus true nature. Stevenson also uses different narrators to the book to give an alternative view on Hyde and Jekyll. No single account could explain to the reader the views of characters associated with Jekyll and Hyde. For example without the support of his friend Utterson, Jekyll would not be as strong

Overall I think that this novella is very complex, but has an excellent understanding to it. I think Stevenson put the theme of “duality” init in an interesting way and related it very well to the Victorian society at the time. Stevenson also comments on the constant war and balance between the two characters. “There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to my evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul”. In almost all stories the good always wins in the end as Jekyll rightly committed suicide as there was no other way out. However it also could be seen as the evil getting the best of the good side as Hyde took over Jekyll’s life and Jekyll producing the potion in the first place. I think that the story relates to this day and age in a way that people are hypocrites and have two sides to them, it gives a strong message to what could happen in the outcome.

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Exploring duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. (2017, Nov 04). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/exploring-duality-in-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-essay

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