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Attraction and repulsion in 'The Yellow Wallpaper' and 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'

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Introduction

0905863 EN2309 Anne Varty Word count: 2301 'There was something abnormal and misbegotten in the very essence of the creature that now faced me - something seizing, surprising and revolting' (The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) Explore the dynamic of attraction and repulsion in representations of 'the abnormal' in at least two texts of the period. In Jeff Green's work on Pluto's philosophies, Green states that 'The potential for tension and conflict in [the] dual desires of the Soul can be equated with the basic psychological phenomenon of attraction and repulsion' (Green 5-6). The dynamic of attraction and repulsion in representations of 'the abnormal' can be explored in both Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. In both of these texts, the principal characters experience clashing feelings of attraction and repulsion to what the reader would view as being 'abnormal'. For instance, in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Jekyll cannot help but feel intrigued by the exciting, dangerous life and character of Mr Hyde and in The Yellow Wallpaper the unnamed narrator1 similarly becomes fascinated by the figure she can see behind the wallpaper. It can be argued that both Jekyll and the Narrator feel attracted to 'the abnormal' whilst the people around them feel repulsed by it. ...read more.

Middle

It is worth noting that the Narrator does not say that her husband 'takes care of her', but instead implies that he takes all control out of her hands. This proves that John thinks it natural for men to have power over women and it would therefore be possible to argue that men like John would have found the idea of the New Woman utterly abhorrent. In The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, we can see Jekyll's initial attraction to unleashing his subconscious needs in a letter he writes to Mr Utterson which explains the repression of his egotistical desires which society would frown upon: 'The worst of my faults was a certain impatient gaiety of disposition, such as has made the happiness of many, but such as 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. Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures [...] I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life.' (Stevenson 60) When reading the text closely, it is possible to state that Stevenson suggests that within everyone's personality there lies a Mr Hyde, a character full of cravings which are not influenced by social beliefs and standards but are instead primitive and innate. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jeff Green explains in his work entitled Pluto that people often 'feel repelled' by what they 'feel attracted to, because the attraction may directly threaten the existing nature of their reality' (Green 45). At the end of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Jekyll explains in his final letter to Utterson his beliefs in the division of the human personality: 'man is not truly one, but truly two. I say two, because the state of my own knowledge does not pass beyond that point [...] It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both [...] It was the curse of mankind that these incongruent faggots were thus bound together.' (Stevenson 61) Jekyll realises that through his experiments he has created a monster and has lost control of his life as Henry Jekyll as we find out that the potion he has been using only worked due to an impurity in the original salt. As he writes to Utterson, he accepts his fate to become Hyde permanently and he wonders, 'Will Hyde die upon the scaffold? Or will he find the courage to release himself at the last moment?' (Stevenson 76). ...read more.

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