Human Nature: The Double Character of Dr. Jekyll Essay
1696 Words7 Pages
Naturally, it is human nature to yearn for some sort of evil. Sinning is common on a daily basis. Kids lean towards destruction. Countless people have the urge to gamble at casinos. Human beings are lustful creatures and have sexual notions constantly in their minds. Evil is not something that can be avoided. For those who appear perfect, their "evil" is well hidden. Thus, ."..humanity is...synonymous with the struggle of good and evil" (Abbey, et al. 328). Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde centers on the dual nature of the human personality through the good and evil facets of Dr. Jekyll's character.
Victorian morals are significant in the establishment of duality due to the moral conflict…show more content…
The division of good and evil in London mirrors the division between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Imagery plays a key role in the exploration of Dr. Jekyll's double character. Stevenson's use of imagery intensifies the plot and its relationship between good and evil (Rollyson 1863-1864). For example, Hyde is described as "apelike" and "like a monkey" while Dr. Jekyll is portrayed as handsome and elegant with "proper stature" (25-26, 38). This example indicates a "reverse evolutionary process" and confirms Jekyll's disastrous attempt to interfere with the order of nature (Page 763). In general, Hyde is illustrated as animalistic, ugly, and deformed mainly to conjure an evil opinion of this character. However, the physical description may be more than simply symbolic. "During the Victorian era, many believed in physiognomy," which was the belief that one could judge a criminal from his or her physical appearance. Hyde is depicted as a vampire who "feeds on the very life of his victims" (Abbey, et al. 327). ."..[Hyde was] drinking pleasure with bestial avidity from any degree of torture to another, relentless like a man of stone" (33). This vampire image suggests the way in which indulgence of evil eats away man's capacity for goodness. Lastly, Stevenson chose ideal names to suit and describe the personalities or actions of his characters. Just as Hyde hides in Jekyll, "Je kyll" hides in "Jekyll." In French, "Je" means I and "kyll" probably
Dr. Jekyll confesses to Utterson that he has for a long time been fascinated by the duality of his own nature and he believes that this is a condition that affects all men. His obsession with his own darker side gives the novel its plot but also its profound, psychological implications. Even before the climax of the story in which it is revealed that Hyde and Jekyll are the same person, the duality of their personalities creates a tension between the good, social Jekyll and Hyde who seems to revel in causing harm and mayhem, and it looks like it is Jekyll who will be overtaken somehow by Hyde.
One of the most interesting things about Jekyll’s transformation is its psychological aspect. Hyde is portrayed as an evil-looking dwarfed man with a violent temper, while Jekyll is a respected man of science, good-natured and leader of his circle of friends. Not only are these men two halves of the same person, but Jekyll describes them as polar opposites, one good and the other evil. What does it mean, then, that once Hyde exists that he slowly seems to take over, to destroy Jekyll. Is Jekyll’s theory of good and evil too neat and clean? Hyde's takeover of Jekyll seems to suggest a less clear-cut explanation, in which the human condition is not in fact double but rather one of repression and dark urges, and that once the repression of those dark urges eases or breaks it becomes impossible to put back into place, allowing the "true", dark nature of man to emerge.
Jekyll’s disorder also reflects on the other characters, and raises the question of just how upright, moral, and governed by reason they truly are. Utterson for example is introduced as a lawyerly, kind man, and seldom seems to stray from that description. But his character is so rigid and unmoving, and even impersonal, that one could imagine he too is strenuously repressing a world of darker urges.