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How are the Contrasting Characters of Jekyll and Hyde Presented in the Novel?

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How are the Contrasting Characters of Jekyll and Hyde Presented in the Novel? 'Jekyll and Hyde' is a late nineteenth century novel that incorporates themes of mystery, medicine and good and evil into a chilling tale. It is about a doctor called Henry Jekyll, who experiments by taking medicine to separate the good and evil sides of his personality. He takes a drug to transform himself into Hyde, the evil side of his personality, and enjoys the feeling of freedom immensely, as he can do whatever evil deed he pleases and yet be completely free of remorse. He does this more and more frequently, but in the end this results in him requiring medicine to stay as the good Dr. Jekyll and stop him from transforming into Hyde. The novel explores the concept of splitting one's personality, and also the attitudes to good and evil and experimenting with science shown by the Victorians. The Victorian attitudes to the new scientific movement were extremely hostile, as evidence suggested that the evolutionist theory that humans descended from apes was correct. This meant that we had no soul, which shocked and frightened a lot of the public, who were very religious. ...read more.


- which I think is important because it suggests that Hyde's God-given soul has been ruined by medicine. This reflects the Victorian view towards drugs that affect the mind. Hyde's actions also indicate his evil personality, especially when he "trampled over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground," and later on in the novel, with "ape-like fury", murdering Sir Danvers Carew. I think this reference to a feral creature is important because it exaggerates the idea of all humans' evolution, but especially Hyde's, from apes, and therefore suggests that Hyde is a soulless beast and "hardly human". Hyde enjoys the feeling of being able to do whatever he pleases, without the worry of being found out. A quote that summarises this well is, "I could plod in the public eye with a load of genial respectability, and in a moment, like a schoolboy, strip off these lendings and spring headlong into a sea of liberty." This is because he can transform back into respectable Dr. Jekyll if he has done anything wrong and never be suspected of anything. Jekyll, as a doctor, embodies many characteristics that are commonly associated with upper-class people in Victorian times: he is respectable, honourable and thinks very logically instead of getting carried away by emotion. ...read more.


Lanyon is so shocked and disgusted by Hyde murdering Carew so brutally that he becomes ill and eventually dies of the shock. Utterson is more curious that upset by the behaviour of Hyde; he is the one that says, "I shall consider it my duty to break down that door" in order to see Jekyll and solve the mystery. A Victorian audience reading this novel would probably have felt that Jekyll deserved the end he met, because they considered it wrong to experiment with our personalities and emotions. I think the moral of the story is that we, as human beings, should not play God by trying to change who we are. It also shows that we all embody good and evil at once. If we begin to desire relief from the public image of respectability, this could come in the form of a whole new, evil personality, as in the case of Dr. Jekyll. The novel also questions human nature by suggesting that beneath the public image of many respectable people there is a hidden, darker side to their personality. Anyone we know could be secretly nurturing a hidden Hyde inside him, ready to vent his anger savagely on us all. Alice Walton - 1 - ...read more.

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