“There are some things that should be kept private”
The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is about a person who is a famous scientist that believes the idea of each person having two different personalities, this is what is shown in the story on how the two different personalities effects Dr. Jekyll and is loved one around him. The story was published in 1888, a crucial time in the British history when the Victorian had reigned over Britain. During the Victorian time, the British Empire was the largest empire in the world it was believed that the sun never set on the empire, as it covered nearly each continent. The story reflects the Victorian society where things were completely different compared to today, people had different living standards also reputation was an important factor because it was all about individual respect and people were recognised only if they had respect.
Throughout the Victorian period, many scientists established their theories and one of the main theories was the theory of evolution, which was created by the famous naturalist Charles Darwin. He came up with an idea of humans possibly could have shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees. This theory increasingly spread, however was rejected as it came in conflict with the creation of Adam and Eve which is in the bible. This era was a turning point in the British history because inventions were being introduced, industrial revolution had begun and gothic horror was rapidly being believed. The story was popular when written at the time because there were all these ideas of evolution and gothic literature which were being believed quickly and therefore caught people’s interest. It is still popular today because it is still influencing films such as batman, Spiderman all films that have this idea of dual personalities.
Mr Utterson is someone who is “embarrassed in discourse” also he is “never lighted by a smile”, the first quote suggests that he does not interact as much, his conversations are short and not flowing also the fact that he does not contribute to his conversation, moreover the second quote tells us that he has never smiled however, it gives us an impression that when he smiled he was lighted. There was “something that eminently human beaconed from his eye”: this quote explains that there was a change in personality of Utterson, because after he drank wine at his ‘friendly meeting’ he opened himself. This gives us an impression that he purposely kept his facade in a serious way and shows that he is a man of trustworthy also a man who considers his job very austerely making him look devoted.
Furthermore, Mr Enfield is described as a “well-known man about town” this tells us that he is very sociable and attends parties and therefore is popular, another thing this suggests is that he is very informative. The descriptions above suggest that both the characters have a good reputation and are able to socialise however both of them have different ways because Utterson is ‘austere with himself’ whereas Enfield is more of a jolly guy and gets on with people more, also Utterson does not find it right to open himself to everyone and has his own way.
This tell us that they both differentiate from each other and do not enjoy each other company as shown in the story when they go on their Sunday walks because they “said nothing” and “looked singularly dull” the writer says this to suggest because this represents that they both looked bored from each other’s company as there was nothing in common, they were lacking in something making them look uninterested also Mr Utterson was finding it difficult to express himself. I chose these quotations because it tells us how their personalities had an impact on their talks.
The story was published in the Victorian time, when privacy was an essential aspect because people did not find it suitable to disclose things, as it would affect their respect and reputation. It was thought of as rude to disclose secrets because it would affect reputations of others as well of themselves because people would then think about them in a negative way and everyone in the society would neglect him, so therefore in those times it was fundamental to have a good reputation so the society does not think of you in a negative way also they had to be seen by their peers, in order to maintain their upper rights in their society and so that they can be viewed as honourable and believable. It was only possible to protect your reputation if you kept away from the gossips and secrets, for that reason it was vital to keep things private even if you came to know what it was all about. Whereas, compared to today people do not even tend to care whether you have respect or not, in this era reputation can be bought and sold. I think this period of time depends on money not reputation.
Mr Utterson is described in contradictory ways so there can be a contrast between his appearance and personality also to be able to notify the fact, that what he is from outside is not from inside. Mr Utterson is described as a person who is “lean, long, dusty and dreary yet somehow loveable” this creates a contrast between his personality and tells us that he is uninteresting, whereas the quotation “somehow loveable” suggests that even though there is all this weird looks that he possesses, there is something within him that makes him a person that you could love. In this novella it is shown that Mr Utterson has this fake facade which prevents him from expressing himself.
The quotes which show this are that “though he enjoyed the theatre he had not crossed one for twenty years” also he is described as being “backward in sentiment”, the quotes clarify that Utterson purposely has this facade because as we can see he likes the theatre but has not gone in one showing that he is controlling himself from being exposed to such things that would make him get carried away, the second quote signifies that he finds it difficult to express himself in front of others. The contradictions made in his description show that, what he is from outside is completely different to what he is from inside.
In this novella there is a particular incident that took place, it was about a girl ‘who was running as hard as she was able down a cross street’, where then a man collided into her and ‘trampled’ over her body ‘calmly’. People gained from the incident with the girl in different ways, this included bribery of the girl’s family and the protection of individual reputation. The evidence that shows the bribery is that “we screwed him up to hundred pounds”, this suggests the girl’s family had to keep it a secret because they wanted to receive the big amount, this benefited Mr Hyde because it saved his reputation also Hyde had to keep it a secret because he had more to lose and would cause a scandal.
The quote “signed with a name I can’t mention” tells us that Mr Enfield had to keep it a secret as it would affect his reputation because he knew who signed the signature also he would be associated with crime of someone of a lower class. The Doctor had to keep it a secret because he had witnessed bribery and needed to keep his reputation to maintain his upper right. All people benefited in one way or another as it all came down to reputation, because if there reputation was destroyed then they would be abandoned from the society.
The novella has many symbolisms that have a deep relation with privacy and secrecy. On of the symbolism, is the locked door because the lock door is a key symbol to represent preventing things letting in or out, it is a symbol to warn the person not to reveal or unveil any secrets hidden within and is better for you if it is kept as a secret. The quote which shows this is that “did you remark that door?” then Enfield replies “It is connected in my mind added he, with a very odd story”, these quotes suggest that the door is a metaphor for secrecy and is kept as a barrier and is warning you do not enter otherwise it could affect you and that is why the door emphasis that ‘there are some things that should be kept private”.
Another symbolism in the story is the key which Mr Hyde owns, the key is a allegory of Hyde’s personality, the quotations that refer to the key are ” the fellow had a key; what’s more he still has it. I saw him use it not a week ago”, these quotes infer to the fact that, there is something about the key that is connected to Hyde and there something waiting to be disclosed or opened which then links into the door as that acts as a portal to some sort of mystery, therefore the key is the way to go inside that door. Finally, the last symbolism in the story is the house which represents ownership and a place where things can be hidden this is because in the story, the appearance of this house criticised to a great extent compared to the rest of the London. The house is described with ‘no windows’, it was ‘bore in every feature’, schoolboys ‘had tried his knife on the mouldings’, on the other hand the rest of the London is described as being ‘ florid charms’ also there were ‘ rows of smiling saleswomen’, there were ‘freshly painted shutters’.
All the quotes mentioned show the comparison between the house and the rest of the London, the quotes indicate that the house represents a place that something can be hidden inside; also it is a place where you can store your secrets without worrying that they will be discovered, and the only way through it is the door and if someone enters it would affect their reputation and this was unlikely to happen because people were so concerned about their reputation that they would not be able to risk their reputation in order to find out what secrets lie within. Overall, the three symbolisms link to each other in one way or another and they all relate to privacy and secrecy moreover they all involve people’s reputation to be at risk.
In my opinion the moral of the story is a message which informs you that, you should not disclose your secrets to anyone as it can involve the danger of your reputation to be spoilt, as shown in the story people in the Victorian era were interested in gossips and secrets, however they were forbidden from discovering them since the rules were much stricter and reputation was considered a significant factor because in that era they were people which were highly reputable and were more responsible, that is why they well thought-out that reputation is harder to earn than money and for that reason people were afraid to do anything that would affect their reputation as it would result into you being dumped out of the society.
On the other hand, in this period people have made money as their power and believe that it is harder to gain money than reputation, as today there is no value for reputation because money has become everything; there is no such word as ‘secret’ because no one cares about other people and therefore they wish to do what they want, without any restrictions. Secret has become a joke because media is moving so fast that people know things, that are happening that shouldn’t be yet they still do not stop it. In my opinion freedom has increased so much that there is no limit, each person is worried about themselves, gossips have become an entertainment for people and therefore industries use this advantage to run their businesses. In this era money is reputation.
Overall the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a story which has many key features mainly related to privacy and reputation. In this essay I have discussed many key points that relate to secrecy and those are: symbolisms in the story that are a metaphor for secrecy, the incident with the girl and how people benefitted individually by keeping it a secret, the similarities and differences of Mr Utterson and Enfield and how they prevent themselves from being exposed, how secrecy and privacy affected reputation. All the key points and the moral of the story emphasises that ‘there are some things that should be kept private’ and this is shown throughout the story because everything that happened in chapter 1 is all about keeping things hidden and also reflect how privacy and reputation was considered in the Victorian era. The popularity still remains as it has a moral which is a vital feature in everyone’s life also is now being introduced into films that have this idea of dual personalities.