The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
By Robert Louis Stevenson –
How Does Stevenson Show The Duality Of Human Nature In The Novel?
How Does Stevenson Show The Duality Of Human Nature In The Novel?
In this piece of coursework I will investigate how Robert Louis Stevenson explores and shows the duality – split personality, of human nature. The idea of duality is thought of humans having two sides to their personality, in the book’s case, good and evil.
This novel was written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was first published in 1886 as a Victorian Gothic Horror. The book is famous for the portrayal of the psychopathology of a split personality in a human being. The phrase ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ has today in modern society has come to signify a wild or split behaviour of a person due to this book written by Robert Louis Stevenson. This novel by Louis Stevenson has an underlining moral telling us about the constant struggle between the good and evil in each person, furthermore it describes to the reader the tension between the two forces and how at any point the good or evil can take over one’s personality. In addition to this introduction to the theme of split personality, the book portrays two different ideas of ‘Darwinism’ and ‘Primitivism’. These issues were great hot topics in the Victorian society at that point in time. As a great man – Charles Darwin - had just published a book called the ‘Origin of Species’.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is about a London lawyer who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll and the misanthropic Mr Edward Hyde. The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was an immediate success and one of Robert Louis Stevenson’s best selling works. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde based all around the three main characters Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde and Mr Utterson. Mr Utterson is a London lawyer who on one of his regular Sunday walks is told by one Mr Richard Enfield a bizarre story about a mysterious looking door in pleasant district of London. Mr Richard Enfield’s story is about when one night he witnessed a small, malformed and rather incongruous man trampling over a girl. When he, along with the child’s family members cornered the odd man (Who in actual fact is Mr Hyde) they forced him to pay compensation of one hundred pounds.
That evening on hearing the peculiar story Mr Utterson, the lawyer, returns home, but he cannot sleep so he decides to track down Mr Edward Hyde, in this part of the book Mr Utterson uses Mr Hyde’s name as a homophone (using his name to mean ‘Hide’-to conceal something, instead of ‘Hyde’) in doing this Mr Utterson make himself “Mr Seek”. After much searching about the streets of the great city he finds Mr Hyde going into Dr Jekyll’s house, Mr Utterson confronts him. From this first meeting of the two, many awful things happen, such as the death of Sir Danvers Carew. Also Mr Utterson becomes obsessed with Mr Hyde and tries to delve deeper into his Edwards Hyde’s complicated world to find out who or what Mr Hdye is.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s book is a typical book of the Victorian age and this is shown by the language used in the novel and also subjects that are aroused and explored. The book subtly expands ideas that were popular in the Victorian time such as Darwinism and Primitivism. These ideas portrayed by using characters like Mr. Hyde. A possibility is that Stevenson uses his novel to mask and vent his own thoughts on the subject of Darwin’s Theory.
In addition Stevenson demonstrates the attitudes of the Victorian society. In the age Stevenson wrote this book the general public showed and kept respectability, reputation and repression, these three rules were the sub conscience pillar of morals that everyone adhered to in the Victorian times. Each of them had a meaning and is shown to the reader by different characters throughout the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Reputation is shown to us in the form of Jekyll as the community see him part of a society which is made up of “intelligent, reputable men” with unblemished pasts.
This is a preview of the whole essay
The following quote “hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame” reveals the fact that Jekyll has never unleashed his true feelings, showing repression, meaning when someone keeps the emotion hidden. In Henry Jekyll’s case of repression we find out that his true feelings explode out in the form of Mr. Hyde.
The final ‘rule’, respectability, can also be shown by Dr. Jekyll or even Mr. Utterson, as they are both professionals and therefore regarded highly within the community which is important. These three sub conscience rules were very much used in the Victorian age and therefore the reader can link the age and time of this book back to that period of time.
These ‘rules’ that the Victorian society followed came through in all walks of their life, an example being their sense of dress. Men wore very simple but sophisticated looking suits, everyday of the week. This was in order to show their high reputation, respectability and wealth. In contrast less fortunate men who were further down the society ladder wore dishevelled clothing, which showed their social status and their poor reputation and respectability.
Women in the Victorian age also wore refined clothing that covered their body in very conservatively. This again reflected the woman’s reputation, respectability and wealth within the community. In addition to this when looking at the picture of a well respected Victorian woman, one will Respected Victorian Men
see that they cover there body fully. This could be linked also to the covering of the true inner feelings. When comparing fortunate women in the Victorian age with less fortunate women we see that the unfortunate women wore dilapidated clothing again showing their social status and reputation each being low. In all, the way men and women dressed depicted how much respect they were given and told on lookers about that individual’s respectability and social status.
When looking at the phrase ‘duality of human nature’ we can see this could mean either in one person or two separate beings. In this novel by Stevenson the reader is given an example of this duality of human nature between two separate beings, the example being Mr. Hyde and Mr. Utterson. Both of these characters are opposite, Mr. Utterson adheres and fits into the sub conscience rules whereas Mr. Hyde does not. Mr Hyde does not repress his feelings furthermore, Mr. Hyde has no respect from the community and finally, Mr. Hyde has no reputation other than a bad criminal one – “Mr Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth”
Other subjects that were applied in this novel are Darwinism and Primitivism; these particular topics were very popular in the time of Robert Louis Stevenson. Darwinism originated in 1859 when a man called Charles Darwin published a book entitled ‘The Origin of Species’, this scientific book outlined Darwin’s theory of mans evolution and the hypothesis of natural selection. The hypothesis of natural selection was based upon the principle of ‘survival of the fittest’ – meaning the strongest humans lived and passed on their genetic material whereas the weakest humans died.
Darwin’s book eventually became a success with the mainstream society adopting Darwin’s theory. Victorian society became very obsessed as the Victorians craved a thirst for more knowledge about Darwin’s theory thus Darwinism was created. This book by Robert Louis Stevenson uses Hyde I believe to contrast two sides of man; I also believe Hyde is portrayed as a less evolved man appearance wise; this is done because I feel Robert Louis Stevenson is trying to convey some of Darwin’s theory into his book. I believe Robert Louis Stevenson did this for the reason of Darwin’s popularity at that time and due to the fact he might have had a fascination with Darwin’s theory just like most other Victorians. The idea of Darwin’s theory or Darwinism I believe has come across in Stevenson’s novel by the physical transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. As it shows a massive physical and mental change happening – (just like in evolution), but in a matter of seconds.
Also the size of Mr. Hyde conveys some of ideas of Darwinism as Hyde has not fully evolved. I think that Robert Louis Stevenson has heavily used Mr Hyde to convey the ideas of Darwinism, though I believe Stevenson did this with the intention of expressing the duality of the human nature within one man, explaining how one person could have two sides in their personality but forced to repress one half of their personality, by the society in which they lived in. As that particular person knew if the other side of their character shone through, they would be shunned from their community and deemed unworthy of respect and a decent reputation going against all of the Victorians society values.
Primitivism has been also explored in the book The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The definition of primitivism is defined on the web as “crudeness: a wild or unrefined state crudeness: a wild or unrefined state of human beings."
Primitivism is shown in many ways by Stevenson. I find that primitivism is only portrayed by the character of Mr. Hyde, I believe that Mr. Hyde is the only character that can be can be applied with characteristics of primitivism, as he his the less evolved for of Jekyll. Also I believe Hyde is the only character because he does not stick to the Victorian morals as well as their values and is the ‘terrible’ side of Jekyll.
I think that Mr. Hyde has been given a lower level of common sense and self-control; these have been done with the purpose of showing Primitivism in Hyde. As it shows that he his less evolved than the common man furthermore it confirms how Mr Hyde is mentally undeveloped.
“Mr Hyde broke out of all bounds” This quote describes when Mr. Hyde murder Sir Danvers Carew without a thought. This shows Hyde’s lack of self control and sows his inability to think about the consequences of his actions. Hyde’s incapability to think of the results of his deeds illustrates the duality of man, with the normal average man but also it demonstrates the duality of man within one man – being Jekyll. It is this sort of behaviour from Hyde that distinguishes him from Jekyll, and it is also this kind of behaviour that Jekyll is bottling up inside of himself. Stevenson also makes use of creatures and compares them to Hyde, an example being “‘Ape like Fury” or “Ape like”. Phrases such as these show the different language used to describe the duality of man.
Throughout the book Stevenson subtly reminds the reader of Darwinism and Primitivism, effectively exploring his society’s obsession with these subjects. Stevenson has thoroughly explored his society’s obsession with Darwinism and Primitivism. He has used different types of language to describe characteristics of these obsessions in different characters and has also applied the different ideas onto a diverse amount of characters.
Robert Louis Stevenson makes sure he keeps his novel exciting and alive. At the time when this was first published – in the Victorian age, the novel was very fast paced and an exhilarating Victorian gothic horror. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when originally published was highly popular, I think that this is because of all the different possibilities that this novel bring. At the time of original publishing the novel would have been significantly interesting as issues of that time were present in the book. Although conveyed subtly, it would of most definitely engrossed readers. In addition there is a prospect that readers could have related to the novel, - I feel that readers might have been able to relate to Dr. Jekyll and the fact he had to keep his emotions bottled up due to the pressures of culture at that time. However the craze for Robert Louis Stevenson’s has lasted up until the present day, this novel is still a popular choice in many readers’ eyes as a good thriller. I think that Stevenson’s book is still popular today for several of the same reasons it was admired at time of when it was first published. I feel that the person who reads this book would be able to understand Jekyll and the hardships that he undertakes by hiding his feelings. Also I feel readers would be fascinated with the subjects explored in the book. I feel that readers would be interested because it is a window into a past life.
Mr. Hyde is described in many different ways throughout the book. The reader is made to feel that he his disgrace to the human race and that he barely human at all. In addition Mr. Hyde is even classed as an animal “ape like”.
During the novel Mr. Hyde is slandered by numerous characters. Many of the phrases used to reflect relate to Mr. Hyde’s size. In the opening pages of the novel by Stevenson Hyde is described by Mr. Enfield a friend of Mr. Utterson. Mr. Enfield comes to the subject of Mr. Hyde when they come across a door, this particular door brought Mr. Enfield unpleasant memories in which Mr. Hyde was involved. As Mr. Enfield describes the story of the trampled little girl, Hyde is depicted in a very horrific person. Mr. Enfield describes Hyde as a “little man” and “very small”. Another quote describing Mr. Hyde’s size is the following quote “Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish”
These three particular descriptions reveal Hyde’s stature as generally small- showing signs of Stevenson’s obsession with primitivism. Mr. Enfield in his statement goes on to say he thought was “some dammed juggernaught”.
This quote again showing, traits of primitivism and Darwinism, also the word juggernaught shows how Enfield did not at first believe Hyde could be a man. Presenting the thought that people saw Hyde as a creature rather than a human being.
In that same description Mr. Enfield goes as far as calling Hyde “like satin”.
If the reader reads on there is further proof of people’s first impression of Mr Hyde and their feelings “look of him, even at a distance, went some how strongly against the watcher’s inclination”.
Further on in this novel by Robert Louis Stevenson the personality and the way in which Mr Hyde acts shines through. In the chapter about Sir Danvers Carew Murder, Hyde’s impatience and savage personality is shown. Hyde when talking is classed as “Hissing” due to his harsh sounding voice, even Mr. Hyde’s laugh his illustrated as a “savage laugh”.
The impatient personality of Mr. Hyde is expressed by Stevenson as an “ill contained impatience”
Mr. Hyde’s anger in the chapter of Sir Danvers Carew Murder id is described as “murderous mixture of timidity and boldness”
In the book Stevenson gives us view of Mr. Hyde from other members of the society, one maid explained that “she had conceived a dislike” for Hyde and how she saw him “brandishing the cane” with a “flame of anger”. In all by the end of the book the reader generally end up loathing Mr. Hyde as an individual, even though the reader realise Hyde is the negative emotions and feelings of Dr. Jekyll in a human form.
I also believe that “unknown disgust, loathing and fear” is the feeling of the characters within the novel from Robert Louis Stevenson.
However, despite this the reader must remember that technically Mr. Hyde is apart and to an extent is Dr. Jekyll. At one point Hyde is described as “so much smaller, slighter younger than Henry Jekyll”.
Dr Henry Jekyll in the novel is described as totally the opposite than Mr Hyde. Jekyll is described as “large” whereas Hyde is described as small, showing that Hyde and Jekyll have not only opposite personalities, but also opposite statures.
Jekyll is also known as “well made” again the opposite to Hyde as in a section of the book Hyde’s attire is depicted a rough and too large for him. We are told Dr. Jekyll’s age is “fifty”, though the same age Hyde Jekyll is still classed older looking than Hyde “Hyde…..slighter younger than Henry Jekyll”.
Mr. Hyde is also known for his angry and impatience personality whereas Jekyll is known for his “every capacity of kindness”
In addition to this Hyde is also known as a cold hearted person while Jekyll is acknowledged as someone with a “warm affection”. Finally Hyde’s face features are heavily commented on by characters in the book in a negative manner; however Jekyll is recognized as someone with a “large handsome face”.
In all aspects of Hyde Jekyll is opposite, it is proven time and time again within the book, Jekyll and Hyde are contrasted as two total opposites.
The novel by Robert Louis Stevenson has two main forms, in the first eight chapters are narrated in the third person, however in the last two chapters the style is shifted to first person. I believe the first eight chapters have been written in the third person to give a reader a whole overview of the story, so they can see the diverse views of different characters. Therefore the reader can make their own fair and sound decisions on the characters. I also think that the first eight chapters cause readers to ask questions which have no answers in those eight chapters. The last two chapters I believe answer the questions that readers have after reading the narrative first eight chapters. This is because I believe the last couple chapters by Doctor Lanyon and Henry Jekyll are confessions explaining all the questions and sorting the confusion the readers may of have. Dr Lanyon’s letter entry explains the order of events in his own view, giving the reader a clear view of why Lanyon opinion on the whole matter. In addition in Lanyon’s entry we find out the truth about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This chapter demonstrates the duality of man as we see the physical change of Jekyll in to Hyde. Lanyon is also very highly critical of Jekyll in this chapter as he is in shock of the potion Jekyll has created that releases the evil side of your personality. When reading Lanyon’s narrative the reader can gather that Lanyon is frightened by this powerful potion, maybe he knows it goes against the whole Victorian society’s morals and values. Henry Jekyll’s letter in comparison to Lanyon’s letter is more of a confession explaining why he had created this potion and how he could not resist the temptation of using it, even though it caused great unrest. Stevenson has engaged with the tradition of epistolary fiction by using writing the last two chapters as letters in first person.
In conclusion this book I think shows two types of duality in the human nature, duality in one-self and in two separate beings. Stevenson I believe cleverly hides his message of duality in the human nature well, as the reader must read between the lines to find the underlining message. Throughout the book Stevenson covers hot topics of the time such as Darwinism and primitivism; by using these I believe he showed the duality of man., Stevenson also shoed the duality of man physically and mentally. This is shown by the two opposites Jekyll and Hyde. As there two mentalities are both opposite and so are the physical appearances. An underlining message of good versus evil is also shone through when reading the book again defining the duality of human nature, the god and the evil. In the novel Hyde is labelled as the evil and Jekyll the god. The book also contrasts the two ideas and shows how the two opposites can be within one person to make that person whole. Also it shows that there is a bit of good and within every single one us.