The novel Jekyll and Hyde

Published: 2021-09-13 10:05:08
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Written in the 1880's by famous British author Robert Louis Stephenson, the novel Jekyll and Hyde is about one man with dissociative personalities. Jekyll and Hyde, although are portrayed to be two very different characters all together, are in fact the same man, wanting to fulfil certain "evil" pleasures whilst still being a well respected member of society. However both of these desires cannot be overcome without a magic potion created by Dr Jekyll, used to transform himself into the ghastly looking and somewhat evil being, known in this book as Hyde - his other half.
In the late 1800's there were a few ideas and theories arising which could be what inspired Stephenson to write such an odd and interesting book. The significant developments in ideas which could be associated with this story are Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and Sigmund Freud's psychological theories on dissociative personalities, which came around at the time of Stephenson writing this book.
These could be linked to how Hyde is from an era where there was no such thing as morality, Hyde can also link to Freud's id (animal instinct), ego (what controls us in order to achieve others approval) and superego (sense of self), in this way Jekylls id takes over. Stephenson could also be proving a point about the class system at that time in the UK as there was a large class division, where as Jekyll has a rich, well off posh lifestyle and Hyde is a character who is "crude" and appears to be of a lower class, not at all respected in the society in which he lives.

The first example of Stephenson portraying Hyde as being evil comes midway though the first chapter where he is first described as "a little man stumping along. " Already he is portrayed to have an ugly negative appearance, and his physical descriptions are one of the main ways which Stephenson describes Hyde overall. Next he is shown to knock over a small child in the street, and one may assume this was an accident, and it most likely was, however when Hyde shows no affection to the girl he just knocked over, and literally tramples over her, the audience knows he is a bad character.
Mr Enfield (a friend of the lawyer; Mr Utterson) after seeing this describes the incident as "hellish" and Hyde as "a damned juggernaut", which relates Hyde to becoming violent as the Indian God of war known as Jaggernafth. Here he is also compared to Satan, which refers him to evil yet again. Another way in which Stephenson portrays Hyde to be evil is through his physical descriptions, however there is a vagueness of his facial descriptions due to the fact other people find him indescribably ugly.
In chapter 8 he is said by Poole (Jekylls butler) to "have a mask upon his face" as such an appearance is too inhuman and unnatural to be that of a normal man. Also in that chapter Hyde is commonly referred to as "it" rather than "him" which suggest he has a lack of humanity. He is also called a "creature" and described as having a dismal screech, as of mere animal terror. This creates a sense of animal imagery, which is one of the ways that Stephenson portrays Hyde as being evil.
Hyde's clothes are described to be far too big, and that is because they are the exact same clothes worn by Dr Jekyll. This therefore shows that Jekyll is considerably taller than Hyde, and Stephenson here could be saying that not only does Jekyll overshadow Hyde in a physical sense, but also in the sense that the good in Jekyll is much greater than the evil in Jekyll. Dr Jekyll is a rather interesting character who wants and respects his good reputation, but still craves some of life's somewhat quirky pleasures.
Should we question if Jekyll is as morally good as people, such as his close friends think he is, or if he is simply a scientist with urges to fulfil? In chapter ten Jekyll describes his "duplicity" and he also describes his first feelings of his "new life" as Hyde. After the "racking pangs" of the initial transformations, Jekyll describes himself as feeling "indescribably new" and "incredibly sweet". He feels "younger, lighter happier in body" and he also talks about the "freedom" of his soul, what is also interesting is how he felt "wicked" yet delighted.
This is the first point in which the audience know Jekyll and Hyde are in fact one, but also that Jekyll enjoys his transformation from good to evil. This idea of Jekyll enjoying his transformation suggests that maybe Jekyll is actually not so morally good. Also Jekyll describing his " dual nature" and saying "I concealed my pleasures" also go to show maybe Jekyll isn't the most morally good character which goes beside other character opinions on him such as Dr Lanyon's "He began to go wrong in the mind. He does however get more pleasing and positive descriptions at the start of the story, where Mr Utterson compliments him, saying he is a "well-made, smooth faced man" who throws "pleasant dinners" and who's personality was one of sincerity. As well as himself, his house is described as "comfortable" & "warmed" by Utterson which could reflect Dr Jekyll as a person. On top of this, the denotations "F. R. S. are next to his name, which stand for Fellow of the Royal Society, and to be in such a highly respected club portrays Jekyll as a man with a much esteemed reputation and a man of high intellect. These qualities of Jekyll alongside others like his "nature to industry" and "high head" that when put against his dark secrets and new good feelings after his first transformation, show that Jekyll is generally good but is only human so he will have his secrets, which as deep as they may be, show that he is not evil, but nobodies perfect?
From reading this book, it is clear to see that Stephenson uses several ways to show the true personalities of Jekyll and Hyde. The first way in which Hyde is depicted to be evil is through the descriptions of his actions, in Chapter one he is described to be stumping along and this creates a sense of negativity rather than just walking. The violence and severity of the verbs Stephenson uses also contribute to the portrayal of Hyde's evil nature.
He also uses animal imagery such as "ape-like fury" which compares him to an animal, a creature with no morals, and of a lower class. Then there is Jekyll, who Stephenson portrays to be the complete opposite of Hyde, and does this by talking about his privileged background, good stature and good looks, and also gives him the title Dr rather than Mr, as anyone would think of a Dr as a well respected and highly intellectual member of society.

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