‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ was written in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story derived from one of Stevenson’s many adult nightmares and raised questions about Society and Religion that was debated by many people. The story was about the duality of man and how Dr. Jekyll tried splitting the good and evil.
A result of this was Mr. Hyde and his pure evil personality. In the novel, the last chapter ‘Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case’ answered many questions brought up earlier in the story.
Dr. Jekyll is portrayed as a respected and distinguished, well brought up man at the beginning of chapter 10. This is clear in the words, ‘[he was] fond of the respect of the wise and good among my fellow-men’, and ‘with every guarantee of an honourable and distinguished future’. These statements show us he has all the traits of a gentleman because it says ‘good among my fellow men’ and fond of the respect of the wise’ which meant he liked other high honourable men respecting him; however he feels as though he already leads a double life.
We see this in the words, ‘I concealed my pleasures’ and ‘I stood already committed to a found duplicity of life.’ This tells us that although he likes having he privileges of a gentleman he also enjoys doing something he can’t, which would tarnish his reputation.
Before he started the experiment Jekyll lead a respected and high life style of being respected by others and being well off and had a theory on good and evil. Jekyll believed that man was made up of 2 personalities, one good and evil. This is clear in the text when Jekyll explains, ‘That man is not truly one, but truly two’. He had a large interest in the duality of nature. He believed he could split everyone’s two personalities into two different people. Jekyll was excited by the idea of separating the two identities. This is apparent when he says ‘ I had learned to dwell with the pleasure, as a beloved daydream, on the thought of the separation of these elements’ he thought that by separating the two identities they would stop irritating each other and he was excited by separating the two personalities because he says he’d ‘learned to dwell with the pleasure…of the separation of these two elements.’ Therefore, this was Jekyll’s ultimate desire and he worked towards this ground-breaking experiment.
Jekyll undertook the experiment to try and split his two personalities and to prove that it was possible. He believed he could brew a potion that would make his good and evil side split into two. It is clear because Jekyll explains that he ‘managed to compound a drug by which these powers should be dethroned from their supremacy’. He tells us that mixing the elements would combine their power and he thinks this will split his two personalities into two different people. After he compounded the drug Jekyll hesitated to take it because he knew it was a powerful drug and he risked death. This is proven in the statement ‘I hesitated long before I put this theory to the test of practice.
I knew well that I risked death’ Jekyll knew that he risked his life but was sure that he could do it and had faith in his theory of the dual personalities and duality of man. Once Jekyll finally takes the drug he describes the transformation as ‘the most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death’. The way he described the feelings was excruciating pain and that he imagined that you could only feel such pain at the hour of birth or death. This would of made the reader feel repel the reader but also excite them because they would want to know what happens. A Victorian reader probably would find this very controversial and might be slightly offended by the words that are used.
When Jekyll first became Hyde he knew from the moment he changed that he was more evil already, this is obvious in the words ‘I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked’. Although Jekyll knew that he was even more wicked as Hyde he seemed to have positive feelings towards him. He felt as though when he was Hyde he was free and had no cares in the world. This is reflected in the words ‘I looked upon that ugly idol in the glass, I was conscious of no repugnance, rather of a leap of welcome’. Before the experiment Jekyll felt as though he already lead a double life and had to ‘conceal his pleasures’, but as Hyde he had someone in which he could unleash all his forbidden cravings and not have a conscience after doing so. He’d found a ‘perfect’ solution.
Jekyll could become Hyde by taking a potion and Hyde could become Jekyll by reversing the potion. Jekyll believed that his experiment was all under control. However, as Hyde grew stronger it was proven that he learned to control Jekyll. This is shown in the quote ‘Yes, I had gone to bed Henry Jekyll, I had awakened Edward Hyde. How was this to be explained? I asked myself; and then, with another bound of terror – how was it to be remedied?’ Hyde was becoming stronger then Jekyll and was beginning to control him, Hyde could pick and choose when he wanted to come out, and Jekyll had no control now. This also showed Jekyll’s panic and increasing lack of control because he’d began to ask himself how he could keep control of Hyde.
Due to Hyde’s strength becoming more powerful Jekyll decided to stop taking the potion hoping that it would stop Hyde forever. Jekyll was scared that Hyde would take over forever. This is shown in the words ‘the balance of my nature might be permanently overthrown, the power of voluntary change be forfeited, and the character of Edward Hyde become irrevocably mine’ and he had a difficult decision as he states ‘To cast it in with Hyde was to die a thousand interests and aspirations, and to become, at a blow forever, despised and friendless.’ In these words it tells us if he was to stay as Hyde he would be giving up thousands of his dreams and goals in live and become friendless because no one liked Hyde. Due to the fact Jekyll was scared that Hyde would take over he had to make a decision whether he would stay as Jekyll or Hyde. His decision was thwarted by Hyde but his resolution to be rid of Hyde helps the reader empathise with Jekyll.
Jekyll stopped taking the drug hoping he would stay as Jekyll forever, however because Jekyll was taking the drug for so long he had become an addict and felt as though he could feel Hyde struggling for freedom and he took the drug once again after 3 months. This is clear in the words ‘I began to be tortured with throes and longings, as of Hyde struggling after freedom; and at last, in an hour of moral weakness, I once again compounded and swallowed the transforming draught’. These words prove that Hyde was struggling to break free from Jekyll when Jekyll had stopped taking the potion and Jekyll was finding it hard to not take the drug, I know this because it says ‘ I began to be tortured.’ The words struggle, tortured and longings all suggest conflict between the two identities.
By the end of the novel Jekyll’s feelings towards Hyde had turned completely opposite from what they were at the beginning. Hyde and Jekyll had a pure hatred for each other and it was as if they were both trying to make each other’s lives worse. This is clear from the words ‘The powers of Hyde seemed to have grown with the sickliness of Jekyll. And certainly the hate that now divided them was equal on each side.’ This statement shows us how strong the hatred between both sides but also the power struggle because Hyde was becoming stronger the more he hated Jekyll. Again, it is shown in the words, ‘The powers of Hyde seemed to have grown with the sickliness of Jekyll.’ Thus representing the imbalance of power between the two.
Although Jekyll’s hatred for Hyde was strong he carried on taking it because he felt like he was addicted to it. At one point in the novel it describes Jekyll taking the drug to someone with an addiction like to alcohol. He says, ‘I do not suppose that when a drunkard reasons with himself upon his vice, he is once out of five hundred times affected by the dangers that he runs through his brutish physical insensibility.’ Here Jekyll refers to himself as a drunk and says he cannot reason with himself because he feels as though the drug has already affected him. Therefore, because Jekyll is addicted to the drug, this is why he carries on taking it and he has no power or self respect anymore.
When Jekyll says ‘I fell into slavery’ he means that Hyde has become stronger than him and has began to control him, making him take the drug and become Hyde more then he actually wants. Also at other times the drug has begun to control him because he is like an addict he has the feeling to want to take the drug all the time like and alcoholic would want to drink alcohol. In a way we begin to feel sorry for him here but however, we know it is his fault for carrying on taking the potions just because he enjoys not having any cares and getting away with things.
In the novel Hyde is a very powerful and dominant character. He has multiple characteristics throughout the story. He is described as ‘so much smaller, slighter, and younger then Henry Jekyll.’ The physical description of him is very different from Henry Jekyll’s.
However it also says that ‘evil was written broadly and plainly on the face of the other.’ This tell us that Hyde may have been smaller and younger the Jekyll however he is much more evil.
Hyde’s character is the complete opposite of Jekyll’s and is described as ‘more wicked, a tenfold more wicked.’ This tells us that Hyde is ten times more wicked than Jekyll by using the word ‘tenfold’. This makes the reader concerned for what Hyde might do to Jekyll. As well Hyde is described as a ‘man of stone’ this simile tells us that he has no emotions or feelings for others.
In parts of the final chapter Hyde is referred to as unnatural. This is shown in the phrase ‘something not only hellish but inorganic.’ Jekyll believes that is something that is not real, which is true because he is not a real person, just something created from a potion. As well as being described as unnatural during the final chapter he is also referred to as an animal. This is proven in the statement ‘a creature eaten up and emptied by fever.’ This phrase tells us that Hyde has traits of and animal by the way he acts and what he does, he acts as a savage animal in the wild when he kills innocent people.
Hyde’s actions are disgraceful and evil throughout the novel. Some of these actions are when he trampled a little girl in the street. Jekyll reflects by saying, ‘An act of cruelty to a child aroused against me the anger of a passer-by.’ This act makes Jekyll angry at Hyde for being cruel to a child and this is clear because he describes it as an act of cruelty and he is also angry because he makes a passer by angry and it could tarnish Jekyll’s reputation if people found out they were connected in a way.
Another one of Hyde’s actions was the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. This criminal act is proven in the statement ‘Some two months before the murder of Sir Danvers.’ These actions show that Hyde is pure evil and has no emotion and will do anything. His actions result in him having to go into hiding because people know that he killed Sir Danvers. The way he killed Sir Danvers Carew was described as, ‘mauling the unresisting body’ this would of shocked and scared the reader because it would of created a disturbing imagery.
Jekyll’s character is different from Hyde. Firstly, Jekyll is old and elderly; this is proven when he describes himself as ‘elderly’ in the novel. However, Hyde is the opposite and is young and carefree. I know this because it says ‘younger, lighter, happier.’ This shows that they are both opposites and this is what is meant when the author describes them as ‘polar twins’.
Another way Jekyll is different from Hyde is that Jekyll has a conscience whereas Hyde doesn’t. This is clear when Jekyll says, ‘I was conscious even when I took the draught’ and in comparison Hyde says “gloating on my crime.” These statements prove that even though Hyde has done worse things than Jekyll, Jekyll seems to have more of a conscience. Although as well as having his own conscience, Jekyll seems to feel guilty for what he does when he is Hyde too. But, Hyde ‘gloats’ at his crimes, therefore proving that he is immoral and not sorry for what he’s done, this would of shocked and scared the Victorian reader.
Also another difference between Jekyll and Hyde is that Jekyll becomes as Hyde becomes strong. I know this because of the statements “sickliness in Jekyll’ and ‘the powers of Hyde seemed to have grown.’ This proves that as Jekyll continued to take the drug he made Hyde stronger and it began to be a struggle between them both.
Jekyll controlled the growth in Hyde because he carried on taking the potion because he had become an addict; he carried on taking the drug which began to make Hyde come out more often, making him a lot stronger. I know that Jekyll became an addict to the drug because it says ‘I fell into slavery’ by using the word slavery it tells us that Hyde was beginning to control Jekyll because the more he took the transforming draught the more he became a slave to Hyde. The result of not controlling the growth of Hyde was Hyde getting stronger and stronger and eventually Hyde begins to control Jekyll because he could come out whenever he wanted and this shows how Hyde gains power over Jekyll and through the novel it shows the constant power struggle.
At the end of the novel Jekyll knows that his experiments have failed and has to face the consequences. I believe that Jekyll made sure he died by his choice before letting Hyde take over for good. By killing himself Jekyll made sure that he was technically killing Hyde and that he wasn’t left free to do evil things once he finally took over Jekyll’s body and it was a matter of pride and doing what was right for others. Jekyll was very wise to do such a thing for others and at the end of the novel I believe that Jekyll didn’t regret his experiments at all. Jekyll was foolish to meddle with the darker side of science and philosophy. However, he didn’t deserve to die because he only wanted to try something new and succeed. If Jekyll hadn’t done this experiment then some one else would have.
After reading the whole novel, I believe that the final chapter is very important to the story. It answers to most questions that are raised earlier in the topic. For example, when Utterson saw Jekyll at the window and Jekyll ignored him we now know that he ignored him and went away because he must have been changing into Hyde. Another example of a question being answered was why Lanyon was so shocked when he say Jekyll and never wanted to see him again, and this was due to him changing into Hyde in front of him. By seeing things from Jekyll’s perspective it gives us a clearer understanding of the power struggle between Hyde and himself and how Hyde eventually takes over.
I would have liked to have seen at one point in the novel or final chapter some of Hyde’s viewpoint, but there wasn’t and perhaps Victorian readers would of liked this too because then maybe it would of given explanations for why Hyde did some of the things he did. Hyde is seen from other people’s perspectives all the time and maybe if we were to have read something from his perspective, we might have seen reasons why he did some of the things he did. However I do believe that the final chapter was key to the novel and made everything much clearer to the reader.