‘The Strange case of Docter Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by R.L.Steveson and ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding Essay
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Explore the nature of evil as it presented to us in ‘The Strange case of Docter Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by R.L.Steveson and ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding.
In this essay I am going to compare two novels, which are ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding and ‘The Strange case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by R.L..Stevenson. I am going to study the nature of evil as it appears in these novels.
‘The strange case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ (now to be known as ‘DJ & MH’) is set in Victorian London.
It was published in the late nineteenth century, when society was in a state of confusion because Dawin had recently published ‘On the Origin of Species,’ an essay on his theory of evolution. His theory stated that man evolved from an ape, which appalled Victorian man, as he did not relish the thought of evolving from an ape because it was a lower life form.
He found this notion insulting.
Dawin’s theory implied that the biblical version of creation was incorrect. The biblical version is found in ‘Genesis’ and is the story of how God created the Earth in seven days. Victorian man could not envisage descending from a creature such as an ape because they were too sophisticated and advanced to come from such a beast. Churchmen were also extremely offended by Dawin’s theory that questioned all the premises of Victorian society. Mr Hyde is similar to an ape in his posture and behaviour, which links the novel with Dawin’s theory. In the novel Mr Enfield described him;
‘ There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable.’
Utterson’s description of him does not dither either;
‘Mr Hyde was pale an dwarfish; he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation.’
Two years after ‘DJ & MH ‘was published a series of murders took place, the ‘White Chapel murders’. The murderer was nicknamed Jack the Ripper because of the way he murdered his victims, as he would surgically remove their organs. Jack the Ripper was said to have been influenced by ‘DJ & MH’ along with the two Scottish body snatchers,’ Burke and Hyde’ who operated earlier in the century. The skill in which Jack the Ripper performed his murders suggested that in some way he was connected with the medical professions. Doctors and people involved in medicine are highly respected in society. The character Dr Jekyll was also a doctor, and therefore appears as a force for good, but he had a dark sinister side which emerged from within; Mr Hyde. Jack the Ripper and Mr Hyde are both the evil within a respectable man, but both men released this evil at times. Therefore the murders and the novel are linked.
‘Lord of the Flies’ was set during the Cold War and published in1954. William Golding had witnessed the evil in World War Two; he had seen what evil on a large scale could achieve. Jack’s character rules by fear, he used the boys’ fear to get them on his side. Jack’s personality and the way in which he gets to power connects him to Hitler. In World War Two Hitler used the fear of the German people to create enough anger to go to war and get what was taken from them in World War One. In ‘Lord of the Flies’ The ‘ littleluns’ are terrified by the beast and Jack uses their fear of the beast to get them on his side ‘Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong- we can hunt! If there’s a beast well hunt it down! Well close in and beat and beat and beat-!’ The ‘littleluns’ feel more protected with Jack because they believe he has the power to stop the beast, and the excitement makes them forget their fear. Both Jack and Hitler are dictators.’
Lord of the Flies’ is evil on a small scale whereas World War Two was on a large scale, but they both show how when one person lets their evil escape it can spread to others like a disease. The Cold War was a build up of passive aggression between the USSR (called Russia from the 1990s) and America. The war was fuelled by the build up of highly dangerous nuclear bombs. The scientific research during the Second World War, created the knowledge of nuclear bombs but by bringing science forward they created extreme fear amongst everyone. Dr Jekyll thought he was doing good as when he created the potion he wanted to erase evil from the world. His attempt to bring science forward failed dramatically.
Morality comes mainly from your conscience as when you do something wrong your conscience bothers you. In both novels the characters’ consciences do not bother them because they hide behind a mask. In ‘DR & MH’, Dr Jekyll is a different person therefore he feels he should not have to pay for Mr Hyde’s crimes so his conscience does not affect him till it is too late. In ‘Lord of the Flies’ the boys in Jack’s tribe hide behind the masks, which they construct with face paints, so not all of them feel bad about their crimes.
The masks make the boys look the same therefore they are camouflaged amongst each other as well and guilt does not affect them as it is hard to hold one-person responsible. At the time of the novel ‘ DJ & MH’, Victorian London was confused about their code of behaviour. Victorian behaviour was mainly based upon religion and the essay ‘On the Origin Species’ had recently questioned this. This theory questioned religion therefore questioning the Victorian code of behaviour.
In the novel ‘ DJ & MH’ the force for good is Dr Jekyll and the force for evil is Mr Hyde but they are both the same person. Dr Jekyll’s theory was to eliminate evil consequently doing good, but this back fired when evil became too powerful. Dr Jekyll’s attempts to bring science forward had failed. The evil in ‘DJ & MH’ comes from within Dr Jekyll, the novel shows how one person has two different sides. In ‘Lord of the Flies’ the break from civilisation unleashes their evil whereas in ‘DJ & MH’ a break through in science frees it.
In the ‘ Lord of the Flies’. The forces are two completely different people the force for good is Ralph mainly, but Piggy is also a force for good, the force for evil is Jack and also Roger. The evil develops from the beast, which starts off as a ‘twister’ and transpires gradually in to a ‘beast from air,’ the beast is in the boy’s imagination but it creates a huge amount of fear amongst them. Jack uses this fear to get them on his side, as he volunteers to protect the boys from the beast.
The film on ‘DJ & MH’ starring Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman shows the evil crimes that Mr Hyde committed. In Victorian London a lot of upper class men had a mistress hidden in the closet. The film shows this and how Mr Hyde treats women.
The novels both end with a death. In ‘Lord of the Flies’ this is not strictly true because the death of Piggy is not that near the end, but near the end Jack and his tribe of hunters are in the process of trying to kill Ralph. When Simon died it is in the heat of the moment and the boy’s are in a kind of trance. The fear in the boys and the excitement of the tribal ritual causes tension and when they see Simon they kill him mistaking him for the beast. Simon is the only one on the Island that can stop the fear. The only way to stop him delivering the news is to kill him. Simon is similar to Simon in the bible that delivered the news about Jesus. They are no longer individual boys but they are part of a tribe killing ‘the beast.’ After the death the boys’ conscience does not bother them apart from Ralph who is then convinced by Piggy that it wasn’t their fault.
Piggy was a different kind of death. It was in the daylight and there was no real fear or excitement created by the beast, it was deliberate death there was no excuses. From this point the boys can no longer go back to the innocent boys they once were the only thing that can stop them is civilization. When the boys killed they would stop their conscience by killing again. They start off by killing a pig then they develop to a sow then a boar and this soon develops in to humans. They use the killings as scapegoats as the kill becomes greater, the next death has to be even larger. At the end of the book Ralph is just about to be killed. All the boys were hunting him down like a pig. It is only when the naval officer arrives that the boys stop and the extent of their crimes finally hits them.
In ‘ DJ & MH ‘ the death is that of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Dr Jekyll also realises that he can go on no longer and decides to end his life. In his will he says that he does not know what will become of Mr Hyde, but he hopes that he to will also end his life. At the end of the novels evil is defeated but its path of destruction still exists and evil is just lying dormant till it can escape the clutches of good. In ‘ The Lord of the Flies’, as the boys depart, they look back at the island and it looks like a nuclear bomb has just hit it, as it is wasted and barren. This demonstrates how destructive evil has been on the island.
In the novel ‘DJ & MH’ R.L.Stevenson was trying to express the evil within everyone and how dangerous it is to meddle which the depths of the human body. In ‘Lord of the Flies’ William Golding shows how the thin crust of civilisation stops most evil escaping, he also shows the evil within every person even from a young age. The young age of the boy’s shows that evil it not just picked up from the environment but suggest it within us from the day we are born just like good.