Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Good Vs Evil – Conflict Between Good and Evil
In the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson uses imagery to enhance the central message of Good Vs Evil. For instance, “Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth. And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under foot and hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway”. For instance, in this quote a man is murdered for no apparent reason, Stevenson makes murder come to life, we can actually see the maid’s perspective as if we are the one looking through the window down upon on them. In the strange case of dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, author Stevenson uses symbolism to enhance the central message of good and evil. For example, “One house, however, second from the corner, was still occupied entire; and at the door of this, which wore a great air of wealth and comfort, thought it was now plunged in darkness except for the fanlight, Mr. Utterson stopped and knocked’. Such as, dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde living in complete different houses. The houses symbolize good and evil, Jekyll’s house is very luxury and homely like while Hyde’s laboratory is mysterious and spooky. In other words, Hyde’s laboratory symbolizes evil while Jekyll’s house symbolizes good from an early beginning. Robert louis Stevenson also uses imagery to express the central message of good vs evil by ‘I never saw a circle of such hateful faces; and there the man in the middle, with a kind of black sneering coolness frightened to, I could see that- but carrying off, sir, really like Satan’.
In particular, Mr. Stevenson all throughout the book describes Hyde as being evil. He even compares him to Satan in the early beginning of the book. We all have our own view of Satan and in my perspective Satan is the highest of all evil. Stevenson also uses allusion towards the end of the story to express good vs evil. For instance, I felt Stevenson also enhances his central idea of good vs evil by including biblical allusions throughout the story. As an example, “This inexplicable incident, this reversal of my previous experience, seemed, like the Babylonian finger on the wall, to be spelling out the letters of my judgment; and I began to reflect more seriously than ever before on the issues and possibilities of my double existence”. For example, this quote refers to the bible verse Daniel 5.5. Stevenson wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during the Victorian era, where bible study was mandatory and praised upon. He uses the allusion to foreshadow Dr. Jekyll’s death. Jekyll thinks nothing of Allusion the veil of self-indulgence was rent from head to foot”. This is an allusion to Matthew 27.51: “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” The biblical allusion refers to a communion between God and man; Jekyll’s use of it is referring to a more complete self-knowledge.
Although Jekyll does not claim to be God or anything near that, this allusion hints at a sense of Godlike revelation and understanding. His comment “I saw my life as a whole” suggests that the veil was also rent between his understanding of Jekyll and Hyde as separate entities. Referring to them in third person, Jekyll now demonstrates a thought process that considers Jekyll and Hyde both legitimate parts of his person. This is a very spooky prospect for Dr. Jekyll. A third allusion Dr. Jekyll uses is that he considers Jekyll to now be his “city of refuge”. In Joshua 20 in the Old Testament, Jewish law sets up “Cities of Refuge” for those who have inadvertently committed manslaughter. Through the use of this allusion, Jekyll suggests a few things. First of all, he recognizes that he is guilty, albeit of manslaughter in lieu of murder, for deaths brought by Hyde’s hands, and also that those who seek justice for Hyde are justified. Secondly, Jekyll clearly retreats into Dr. Jekyll, or at least intends to, in order to avoid the consequences of Hyde’s actions. The third suggestion is that, eventually, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde will be judged.
Comparative Analysis of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the Picture of Dorian Gray
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was written by Louis Stevenson with the publication date of the fifth of January on the year of 1886. Subsequently, the Picture of Dorian Gray authored by the famous writer Oscar Wilde was published on the day of the twentieth of June on the year of 1890. Both books share the same location and time period of publication, which was during the Victorian Era taking place in the streets of London.
The Victorian Era was the time between the years of 1819 to 1901 taking place in Great Britain, ruled by Queen Victoria and evidently named after her. Economic, medical, scientific, etc… development were the offsprings of this age, making it an upturning point to the country that has started to flourished and develop completely. However, social oppression was greatly present during that time; British people were victims of harsh prejudices by their surrounding society. This has led to the unleash of a lifestyle extraordinarily characterized by double standards. Therefore, Stevenson and Wilde authored the two books, which are considered social commentaries of the situation that took place during that time. As a result, having written both books during this specific time period has immensely altered the context, themes genres and the use of stylistic devices present in both texts. Even though both books were written differently with divergent plots, they convey the same message or hidden meaning that underlies both storylines. Both texts exhibit the eerie aspects of human nature through the use of stylistic devices, and the implementation of supernatural forces that illuminate the idea duality of human nature in leading a life characterized by double standards. The elements that are used to construct the main shared idea of both texts will fully be explored and analyzed thoroughly and effectively throughout this essay.
Before exploring the texts, the two words that have a great significance to the analysis will need to be defined to give a proper insight on what will be emphasized throughout the essay. Intelligibly, one of the terminologies is dualism. Dualism – by definition – is “the division of something conceptually into two opposed or contrasted aspects, or the state of being so divided”. Due to the social oppression that Victorians used to endure, they were not allowed to fully be themselves; their characteristics or actions – that weren’t in agreement with what society believed in – were hidden. This has lead individuals – back then – to commit illicit or inappropriate actions, because according to psychology: what is forbidden is often extremely attractive to an individual as it is something they have never experienced before. As a result, most Victorians – men in particular – used to indulge in their desires secretly not stopping until they are victims of society’s prejudices. This social oppression has caused individuals to stop abiding by their conscience; instead, society’s judgments is what drives their motives. Because dualism was something with immense significance in England during that time period, this characteristic has shaped and molded literature contextually, in ways which will be further discussed throughout.
Another prominent terminology is the literary genre of gothic fiction; both texts are considered to fall under this genre. Gothic Fiction was an element that was abundantly used during the Victorian Era; it is attributed to be “dark, gloomy or depressing”. The depiction of terror, use of supernatural elements, presence of highly stereotyped characters, and attempt to display techniques of literary suspense are all components of Gothic Fiction, and they are all present in both texts. On the one hand, In the Picture of Dorian Gray, the symbol of the portrait resembles the conscience of Dorian Gray and shows how his values have become more and more deteriorated over time, without his consensus. In fact, it acts as an antagonist to the protagonist Dorian Gray. In addition, it represents the situation that took place in the Victorian Era. As long as society did not know about a person’s indulgences’, they would commence with their doings. Just like the Victorian Era, the portrait has defeated any sense of conscience that was present in Dorian. In the beginning of the novel, Dorian Gray openly condemns and envies the situation to which his picture “will remain always young” and that “it will never be older than this particular day in June” (the day he sat with Lord Henry and Basil Halward), while he “shall grow old and horrible and dreadful” as time passes. Subsequently, the young who is still innocent – when his soul was still not severely touched by influences of Lord Henry – he makes the subtle wish yet very profound in meaning and significance to the whole novel. Gray begins to wonder, if roles were switched allowing him to be the one who remains young and beautiful with his physical attributes not influenced by the downsides of time, while the portrait is the one that ages as time passes, stating that “for that” he “would give everything” and that “there was nothing in the whole world” he “would not give”; sacrificing his soul for the wish to be granted. The moment the young inadvisable man makes that wish, a halt to the effect of aging was put. However, time wasn’t the factor that deformed the picture and made it older; his soul was it. This represents how the Victorian society was like; people took every single word and action said and done against individuals, acting upon them, victimizing people making them endure cruel prejudices.
A mere wish has changed Dorian’s life. After committing his first evil act of causing young Sabyil to commit suicide, the picture gets deformed. At first the lad was alarmed by the deformation and was scared society finds out about his marred soul. Consequently, he takes the portrait and hides it in a room that no one sets foot in. Having hidden the portrait from the eyes of the people and his wish becoming true, the “frees Dorian from his inhibitions” and facilitate him committing more wrong doings over time, knowing that his “physical splendor” will not change as a response to his malevolent actions. The portrait displays the indefinite idea on how fragile the Victorians were; they would take into their pleasures easily, affected by any influencing force due to their oppression by the surrounding society.
On the other hand, in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the dual human nature of individuals is distinctly represented through the presence of two prominent characters in the novella: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As explained in the book, Dr. Jekyll – a scientist – knew that he was a respectable man amongst his surrounding society, yet he was in full awareness about him coveting to indulge in his suppressed senses, causing him to not find peace with himself. However, he was unable to openly she depravity to the people around him, damaging his reputation. Therefore, he comes up with a potion in his laboratory – that when taken – makes him feel both enormous pleasures and wickedness, changing his physical attributes into a wholly different person disguising him from the eyes of society – Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde appears to be extremely unappealing, deformed, small and shrunken; “he gave an impression of deformity without any namable malformation”. While Dr. Jekyll appears to be sight friends, as perceived by their surrounding society. On the one hand, Dr. Jekyll has a respectable profession, having a high status in his society. On the other hand, Mr. Hyde was jobless, making him from the low social class amongst society. In addition, the name Hyde has a great significance to the novel; it means to be in disguise. Stevenson did not just randomly pick the name. This is exactly what Dr. Jekyll wanted to achieve: taking into his sinful desires to feel pleasure in disguise to the eyes of prejudices. This point brings the reader back to how the context was affected by the time period (Victorian era) the novella was written in.
The physical attributes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, along with the situation of creating a potion to illuminate Dr. Jekyll’s dark side secretly, without society’s knowledge, represented what took place during that time. Victorians extremely feared to expose their true selves to the eye of the public. Consequently, they would seek to satisfy their yearnings, because what is forbidden will be greatly desired. In the two examples displayed above in both books, the reader can see that for both characters – Dorian Gray and Dr. Jekyll – to take into their desires and be who they truly are, the use of supernatural forces was essential to demonstrate how hard this was like to achieve during the Victorian Era.
The significance of the importance of reputation is outlined when Stevenson and Wilde chose to implement supernatural forces to illuminate the dark sides of the characters. In addition, this represents the presence of a struggle that is great in size to the characters; they both want to be themselves and openly show their imperfections to society without being severely judged. As a result, they resorted to the implementation of supernatural forces that allowed them to display their true identity to the public furtively. Due to the suppression of both characters, their evil sides overcome their good sides. This is evident through the presence of Mr. Hyde overcoming the presence of Dr. Jekyll and Dorian overcoming his conscience by constantly committing sinful acts. However, the idea of the importance of reputation during that time is immensely stressed in both books; this is shown when the characters’ dark sides do not survive, and therefore society wins.
As the reader should know, the portrait of Dorian acts as an antagonist to the protagonist Dorian, constantly reminding him of his sins and waking up his conscience, just by the brief sight of its deteriorating features. Dorian did not appreciate the picture reminding him of his evil soul as it altered his peace of mind and happiness, so he consequently stabs it, not knowing that he is connected to his portrait and dies. As a result, when Dorian dies and so his sinful acts die with him too, the portrait becomes beautiful as it was again. Similarly, Mr. Hyde dies by killing himself. This leaves an impact on the reader that the idea of reputation always won during the Victorian Era; people who imprudently couldn’t control their actions were subject to harsh criticism by their society as their inappropriate behaviors get disclosed. Both character – Dr. Jekyll and Dorian – were alive when they did not indulge in their senses. However, they both enjoyed committing acts condemned by their society, marring their reputations, yet hiding what their souls truly look like in front of society differently. Consequently, their good sides were overcome by their dark sides and they both become wholly evil, which is not appreciated by society. Therefore they both die.
Dr. Jekyll – an Almost Evil Character?
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde how does Stevenson present Dr Jekyll as a troubled character in chapter 7?
Stevenson presents Jekyll as almost evil in chapter 7. Jekyll is presented in complete contrast to how he is shown in the previous chapters. The mere sight of Jekyll and his facial expression ‘froze the very blood of the two gentlemen below’. Utterson and Enfield are severely affected by the look on Jekyll’s face and the presentation of him in this way makes him seem sinister and certainly very unpleasant. This is ironic as just moments earlier Enfield makes a remark about the fact that it is impossible to see Mr Hyde and not feel nauseated. They then see Dr Jekyll and his face ‘froze the very blood’ of Utterson and Enfield`. Stevenson is foreshadowing here as later on we find out that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are actually the same person. When we read this we must also consider the Victorian readers belief in duality, the conception of humanity as dual in nature. This idea and theme in the novel forces us to look back, even more so Victorian readers, and consider where this sense of duality first aroused and how long it has been going on for.
As the novel progresses we see Jekyll develop as an increasingly more troubled character. This really is linked to the arrival of Mr Hyde; it seems to the reader that ever since Hyde arrived it has had a negative effect on Jekyll and all of Hyde’s bad qualities are finding his way into Jekyll. Hyde is presented as devilish and evil the same as we start to Jekyll being presented in chapter 7. Stevenson starts to really show Jekyll as possessing the same negative traits as Mr Hyde, ‘before the smile was struck out of his face and succeeded by an expression of such abject terror and despair.’ As a reader we start to wonder what the link is between Jekyll and Hyde, and why Jekyll is becoming increasingly more secretive and having a bad effect, similar to Hyde, on the people around him. When we read this novel we have to realize that a very key and prominent theme in Gothic novels is a sense of mystery, we as a modern reader of the novel no the ‘twist’ to the tale if you like. However at the time when this was first read the audience would have been unaware of the major turning point in the play. Stevenson structures the play very carefully to lure the reader in and almost tease them by refraining from giving away to many details to the reader. So one of the key ways Stevenson presents Jekyll as a trouble character is through his very clever structure of the novel.
In chapter 7 in particular Stevenson focuses on the setting and although not all the elements of a gothic setting are present some of the key aspects are very prominent in this extract in particular. Stevenson mentions that the court was, ’a little damp, and full of premature twilight’. Stevenson is trying to build suspense in preparation for the revelation of Dr Jekyll’s changed character that we later witness. There is a very clever contrast with the setting of the court, showing the characters of Jekyll and Hyde. The ‘premature twilight’, contrasts with the bright sky that was ‘still bright with sunset’. Stevenson is showing the contrast of Jekyll and Hyde through the setting of the court, but he later reveals to us that Jekyll is becoming closer to Hyde. Then at the end of the chapter Stevenson goes back to the idea of evil promoted mainly by Hyde but now we are starting to see Jekyll creeping into this category. Stevenson cleverly presents the change in Jekyll’s character and him being increasingly troubled through the contrast between the start and the end of this chapter. At the start it seems there is still some of the original kind-hearted Jekyll but by then end we realize that that is all gone as Utterson and Enfield, ‘walked on once more in silence.’ Leaving us with little or no hope for Jekyll. This novel has all the elements of Gothic Horror, first of all it takes place in London a city renowned in Gothic Literature and also in Victorian Society as being a city of danger and two-sides. By day a bustling commercial city but at night everything happens behind closed doors in dark rooms, but also dark and disturbing crimes. In Victorian Society they would have been well aware of this especially being troubled by Jack the Ripper and that idea still playing on the people’s minds.
Stevenson uses many different techniques In order to emphasise Dr Jekyll as a troubled character. His structure means that we don’t discover all the facts at once, it takes time and we only get small snippets and ideas about Jekyll and his changing character. Stevenson also uses the setting of the novel to his advantage, showing the dangers and dark secrets that London has in store.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: the Original Vs Cloven Vicount’s Adaptation
In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Since then, the novella has been adapted countless times. Though there are numerous definitions, adaptation can literally be defined as, “the action or process of adapting or being adapted”. Although the term adaptation originally referred to topics of biology, it’s frequent use in literature has become prevalent in developing the definition, “a movie, television drama, or stage play that has been adapted from a written work, typically a novel”.
In 1962, Italian author Italo Calvino wrote the original novella titled, The Cloven Vicount. Set in Italy in the late middle ages, the novella tells the absurd tale of a Viscount who becomes split in half during a battle against the Turks. In relevance, this work has been formally titled an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Similarly, Calvino’s adaptation employs the use of Stevenson’s overall message and morals while also adding this theme of personality unification. When the Viscount becomes split into two, one half becomes his good side, while the other is bad or “Hyde-esque”. In fact, throughout the story the reader comes to see that the good Viscount spends most of his time correcting the horrible deeds of his other half. For example, there is a point in the novella where the bad Viscount wounds birds, and the good Viscount helps cure these injured swallows. “For some time the Viscount’s crossbow had been used only against swallows, but in such a way only to stun and wound them not kill them. But now were seen in the sky swallows with legs bandaged and wings stuck together and waxed. A whole swarm of swallows so treated were seen prudently flying around together, like convalescents from a bird hospital, and there was an incredible rumor that Medardo was their doctor,” (213). At the end of the novella, however, both halves are united yet again.
As far as character relations go, Calvino’s novella has a few similar characters to that of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Though the Viscounts are extremely analogous to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, there are also various other connections that can be inferred. In Calvino’s, The Cloven Viscount, the Viscount’s younger nephew narrates the story. In my opinion, Mr. Utterson is very relatable to this young narrator. Both Utterson and the nephew become very intrigued in investigating Hyde and the Viscount as they each develop into their true characters. For instance, at the end of Calvino’s novella, the Doctor (who sewed the Viscounts back together) and the famous Captain Cook are sailing away just after the Viscount and his wife departed. Concerned, the narrator states, “I began running towards the seashore crying, ‘Doctor! Doctor Trelawney! Take me with you! Doctor, you can’t leave me here! But already the ships were vanishing over the horizon and I was left behind,” (246). This goes to show how invested the nephew was with his Uncle’s condition as he has trouble letting go. I also have come to relate this Doctor Trelawney to Stevenson’s character Jekyll. In a way, the Doctor’s quirkiness in general and of course in uniting the two Viscounts provides a mirror character to somewhat off-shoot that of the original Jekyll.
Though both of these novellas have numerous similarities, they too have several differences. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde employs the use of a more real world approach, versus the skewed world in The Cloven Viscount. Calvino makes use of seemingly real world situations in his adaptation, but at the same time uses a very distinct form of narration to convey such remarkable events. His text is also more innovative than Stevenson’s, and as an adaptation, expands upon the original novella. In other words, in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the reader would not find it very likely for a man to have been cut straight in half and continue to live; however, The Cloven Viscount gives the reader the ability to accept such an absurd and impossible fact. Because of this acceptance, the novella is able to surpass the confinements of realism, which we see in Stevenson’s original novella.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Evil Aspect
Throughout the novel and the movie battle the concept of good versus evil and society expectation as a common theme. Both of the movie and novel have a great quality elements that make them a like, but like everything, people put their own twist in order to catch the viewer’s attention. For example, comparing and contrasting the novel and movie back to back from “Strange Case Of Dr.
Jekyll And Mr. Hyde”, we see different approaches on the “evil” aspect of the Hyde. In detail, the movie made Hyde look like a villain as the novel made him an outcast living his life without society measure.
In both format of this stories their characteristics stays with the similar description but in a different form, but stay with the same concept that Jekyll has two personas, a private persona and a public persona. In public eye, around fifty years of age; he’s a big man and clean shaven, he is known as a doctor, loyal friend, a man of intelligence, and a benefactor for those in need. Privately in closed doors, he yearns for the freedom to do all of the things that would tarnish his public reputation. Hyde is self-serving, selfish, brutal, and destructive. He is angry, uncaring and detached. Without conscience, he feels no remorse for his violent acts. He’s like a child in his fear of being found out….. driven to tears over thoughts of the retribution he might one day have to pay.
In the novel, Mr. Utterson description Hyde as a unhuman like creature stating that, Hyde’s hands as “gnarled, and although he’s a small man, he’s wound up with energy” and “Hyde was pale and dwarfish giving an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation,he had a displeasing smile…”(Stevenson pg 52). As in the movie, the character Mr. Utterson in this case is Dr. John Lanyon doesn’t give the viewer a description on Hyde’s appearance, but we see that his formation into a different persona with human figures in the film (Fleming). With these both description we as viewers or readers can help us paint a picture and influence us to see who the author wants to be viewer as “the evil” character from the movie and novel. I think both the author and director wanted to influence its audience be creating that “bad” image of Hyde and the “good” image of Jekyll.
Both platform have different views on how they protary Hyde as evil. In the movie, Hyde likes to drink, club, and to beat people up to feels pleasure when he engages in violence or acting against the social expectation: “He had in his hand a heavy cane, with which he was trifling; but he answered never a word, and seemed to listen with an ill-contained impatience. And then all of a sudden he broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on (as the maid described it) like a madman. The old gentleman took a step back, with the air of one very much surprised and a trifle hurt; and at that Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth. And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under foot and hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway” (Stevenson pg 60). As in the movie, Hyde goes to clubs get drunk and starts fight, stealings from stores, focuses Ivy Peterson to love him and be isolated from everyone just to please him but then kills her when she found out he was Dr. Jekyll, kills Sir Charles Emery the father of his finance Beatrix Emery, and runs away from the police (Fleming).
With these both detailed examples of Hyde’s actions, we as viewers or readers can view and prove that “the evil” character from the movie and novel is Hyde with the help of the author and director to include those to manipulate what we think. I think both the author and director, wanted to influence its audience by creating that an absent idea of Mr. Hyde is Jekyll’s way of escaping his sophisticated lifestyle and entering a totally separate way of life. Stevenson and Flemings uses this marked contrast to make his point: every human being contains opposite forces within him or her, an alter ego that hides behind one’s polite facade. Jekyll largely appears as moral and decent, engaging in charity work and enjoying a reputation as a courteous and genial man, something Hyde couldn’t be and instead embodies evil or in other word “society outcast”. We may recall that Hyde is described as resembling a “troglodyte,” perhaps Hyde is actually the original, authentic nature of man, which has been repressed but not destroyed by the accumulated weight of civilization, conscience, and societal norms. But the novel suggests that once those bonds are broken, it becomes impossible to reestablish them.
In conclusion, there was to diferent forms this story was protrayed but with anzalyize both there will always a different twist based on that the author ot diecrtor wants to put out for the attenetion to understand. Twisting the story can make newer aduience get an insterent on the hidden meaning of this story without reread the older vigure. It always help younger aduience to be able to picture what the stoeyline is telling you.
Mr Utterson’s Perspective
In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson employs Utterson as the narrator and voice of the novella, as well as the investigator or detective figure that allows the story to be ‘discovered’ dramatically by the reader. Utterson also provides a contrast as a the voice of reason compared to the supernatural and fantastical elements provided by Jekyll and his experiments. In another turn of meaning, Utterson is used as a representation of the secretive and masquerading Victorian gentleman, who hides his flaws beneath an impeccable and impenetrable facade.
At the beginning of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson uses Utterson to demonstrate a logical response to the horrific story of a man trampling a young girl, as recollected by Enfield, Utterson’s companion. Upon hearing the story, Utterson remarks simply ‘tut tut’, demonstrating his disapproval of Hyde’s behaviour, but with very little emotion. This is typical of the Victorian gentleman and demonstrates to the reader that despite his supposed practice of not interfering with others, Utterson is unwillingly curious about the sordid affairs of others. In this way, he is beginning to contradict himself, as in the opening of the novella Utterson states, ‘I incline to Cain’s heresy […] I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.’ Here, Utterson is declaring that he will not interfere in the affairs of his ‘brother’ and will not stand in the way of any wrongdoings. However, we know this is not true, as by a few pages later Utterson is involving himself in the story of Hyde and the trampled girl. Furthermore, throughout the rest of the book, Utterson is curious and near obsessed with discovering the truth of Jekyll, who in this instance represents Cain, Utterson’s ‘brother’ who condemns himself to hell through his wrongdoings. Utterson’s immediate contradiction links to the theme of reputation in the book, where Victorian society was obsessed with their public image and would hide the dark aspects of their lives. Utterson’s contradiction between the passive character he chooses to present and the obsessive, investigative character he really possesses is an example of the hypocritical nature of victorian society, and also links to the idea that everyone is dual in nature. Utterson has two opposing characters of passive and assertive, just has Dr. Jekyll has his own character and that of Mr. Hyde.
Utterson is also used to demonstrate the effects of the horrific story on ordinary people. Utterson is haunted by Hyde and even dreams of him, reinforcing to the reader the image of Hyde as a repulsive and truly frightening character. Utterson is described as having ‘tossed to and fro’ as he dreamt, showing the lawyer’s fear of Hyde. This encourages the reader to also feel fear, and as we trust Utterson as a logical character and we view his fear of Hyde, and therefore of man’s duality, as inescapable and rational. As Utterson is described as a ‘lover of the sane’, demonstrating how he is a sensible character, his opinions can be trusted and therefore replicated by the reader. Furthermore, Utterson’s love of order contrasts the chaos caused by Jekyll, who disrupts the order of nature. Here, Stevenson is teaching the reader that you cannot separate good and evil, as it is Utterson, the blend of good and evil, who restores balance by the end of the novel, and it is Jekyll who disrupts it. Indeed, the disruption is first caused by Jekyll’s alter ego, and can only be resolved once Utterson has discovered the truth and Jekyll, and therefore Hyde, have died. Utterson is also used as a narrator so that the reader discovers the plot in a dramatic and mysterious way, as we discover the truth through Utterson’s research and discoveries. Utterson is used to collect the information told through various mediums and characters, and thus compacts the story and makes him Stevenson’s envoy to the reader.
Finally, Utterson is used to hint at the duality of all men and society, particularly Victorian society. Despite being presented as on the whole reputable, trustworthy and slightly dull, Stevenson makes several hints to Utterson having a darker side. For instance, the very first page of the novella describes Utterson as ‘long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable.’ This contradiction immediately demonstrates the duality of Utterson’s character and sets up the idea that everyone has two sides to their being. By showing that even the most respectable of men to have a dual nature, Stevenson is teaching the reader that no one is exempt from duality and we are all bound to that other half. He is teaching the reader that it must remain a part of you, and if you try to separate yourself from it, just as Jekyll does, it will end grievously. Moreover, Stevenson hinting at Utterson’s dubious side is also a comment on society as a whole. Stevenson is remarking that the whole of society has a corrupt and evil nature within it, but everyone is hiding from it. He is showing how hypocritical society is, for despite having darker sides to their personality, Utterson and the other characters are still horrified at Jekyll’s transformation to Hyde. This can also be read as Stevenson’s own horror at what man is capable of, and a demonstration of what are reactions are when we are confronted with the bleak reality of our nature. Utterson is also shown as the archetype of the Victorian gentleman through his fear of scandal. He prioritises his reputation above all else, and is plagued by the ‘terror of the law’, which again hints at a corrupt and secretive side to Utterson. The lawyer cannot discuss what he learns for fear of keeping up appearances, fearing a scandal.
Indeed, it is interesting that his name is possibly a pun for ‘Utters-none’, reinforcing the idea that he will not share what he discovers of Jekyll to the police or anyone else. It is left unclear why he does this, as it could be because of his obsession over reputation, but more sinisterly, his silence could be from his realisation that he or anyone else could have been in exactly the same position of Jekyll, with the exception that their evil side is within them, and does not have corporeal form like Hyde does. Despite these connotations of silence, Utterson is used for structural effect, and to allow the reader to view Jekyll’s story from an external and ambiguous view. Yet Utterson is also used as a representation of the typical Victorian gentleman, who reminds the reader that Jekyll’s duality is present within all of society and within every person.
Duality and Complexity in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde is a novel which is arguably entirely about duality. The most obvious example is of course that of the contrast between Jekyll and Hyde themselves, but underneath that is a multitude of smaller oppositions, such as dark and light; private and public; and animal and man, which collectively underline and strengthen the feeling of duality which permeates the novella. This essay will examine several of these dualities, how they interact and how they enhance the themes and messages of the story itself.
The relationship between dark and light is one which is repeatedly addressed throughout the story. While it is common in many types of novel, it has particular significance in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, as there are characters onto which the reader can directly imprint dark and light. Hyde is repeatedly characterized in dark ways; during his first appearance in the story, in Enfield’s recounting of the night the girl was trampled, he is described as possessing a “black, sneering coolness” (p.10) and, for contrast, the doctor is described on the previous page as being of “no particular… colour” (p.9). In addition, when the doctor looks at Hyde, he is described as turning “sick and white” (p.9). Jekyll’s change in demeanor after the murder of Carew is also described in these terms; his face is described as seeming to “open and brighten” (p.29). Following the meeting between Dr. Lanyon and Mr. Hyde, as is revealed in Lanyon’s letter later in the story, Jekyll sends Utterson a message and this section is replete with images of dark and light. The content of the message is described as “darkly mysterious” (p.30), and the portion which is shared with the reader shows that Jekyll is also thinking in these terms; he demands of Utterson that he be allowed to go his “own dark way” (p.30) and suggests that by acquiescing to his wish for isolation, Utterson would “lighten [his] destiny” (p.30). There are many other examples throughout the text, and Hyde is almost always associated with darkness (only once is Hyde described in ‘light’ terms; just after Utterson meets him for the first time, he is said to be “pale and dwarfish” (p.17)). Even characters’ appraisals of Hyde’s temperament include this dichotomy; Utterson describes him as possessing “black secrets” (p.19), and again directly compares him to Jekyll, whose worst secrets, according to Utterson, are “like sunshine” (p.19). This comparison extends even to the description of setting and place. Stevenson describes a “haggard shaft of daylight [which] would glance in between the swirling wreaths” (p.23), and streetlamps illuminating a scene in “a regular pattern of light and shadow” (p.15). The close relationship between dark and light is a recurring technique throughout the story; rarely is the concept of ‘dark’ mentioned without a corresponding mention of ‘light’ somewhere in the text nearby. Furthermore, the juxtaposition between light and dark is also addressed several times in the novella; people who are looking at Hyde, or thinking about him, are often said to be white or pale. The doctor in Enfield’s tale is one example, as is Jekyll’s reaction to Utterson’s mention of Hyde’s name during their conversation about his will – “the large handsome face of Dr. Jekyll grew pale to the very lips” (p.20). Lanyon, too, is described as having “grown pale” (p.29) after seeing Hyde transform into Jekyll. If dark and light are accepted as metaphors for good and bad, the effect here is that characters’ goodness is intensified upon seeing Hyde, in much the same way that a light patch appears lighter when next to something dark. The interweaving of these two concepts serves to make an overall point about the overarching duality of Jekyll and Hyde themselves; as is made clear throughout Jekyll’s full statement of the case, the dark (evil) side of man and the light (virtuous) side, while being opposed by definition, are nevertheless lashed together by necessity. This is also the case for dark and light themselves; where there is no light, there is dark, so despite their opposition they are two sides of the same coin.
Another pairing to which that analogy is applicable is that of public and private. Especially in Victorian society, known for its puritanical bent and clear-cut distinction between lower and upper classes, public and private faces often had to be very different. The first example in the text of someone curtailing their wants due to concerns about propriety is Utterson, who is said to drink gin to “mortify a taste for vintages” (p.7). He is said, on the same page, to enjoy the theatre but not to have attended a show in twenty years. While Utterson does not precisely ‘let loose’ whilst at home, these details imply that his private desires are such that they need to be contained; this is again addressed when he is reading “some dry divinity” (p.12) on his desk, seemingly for a similar purpose as drinking the gin. Utterson’s feelings on the matter are actually baldly stated at one point, where he is identified as a man “to whom the fanciful was the immodest” (p.13). The conflict between Jekyll’s private and public lives plays out rather more bombastically than Utterson’s, but the inclusion of these small details show that these aspects are present even in the unlikeliest candidates and provides a through-line, linking the men together. Naturally, the gulf between Jekyll’s public and private selves is the main thrust of the novella, and much of the material illustrating this point surrounds him. One of the ways in which Stevenson highlights this is through the mention of windows; a window can be considered a gateway through which one can view the private from a public place and vice versa. Hyde’s house is described at the beginning of the novella as “show[ing] no window” (p.8), emphasizing the inability of the characters and reader to view what goes on in there; additionally, the block at the end of Jekyll’s garden is said to be a “dingy windowless structure” (p.25). Utterson and Enfield finding Jekyll at the window also reinforces this effect; their ability to see him nearly leads them to witness his transformation into Hyde, or his private self, as is suggested by the haste with which he slams the window shut. This is the only time when Jekyll is seen near or through a window, and it is the last time he appears in the story’s chronology, so it is arguably a foreshadowing of Jekyll’s forthcoming exposure and the illumination of his private life. Connected to this symbolism is the repeated mention of eyes in the story; often, characters in the story make judgements about others based on their eyes, as if they betray something deeper than the person’s general manner. In this sense, eyes function a lot like windows, allowing access to private areas of information. This begins in the very first paragraph of the novella; Utterson has “something eminently human beacon[ing] from his eye” (p.7), prompting the reader to trust him and identify with him. Also, after Utterson’s first mention of Hyde to Jekyll, “there came a blackness about [Jekyll’s] eyes” (p.20) – this ties in with the idea of Hyde being represented by darkness. When Lanyon becomes ill, Utterson judges the state of his character and health not by his general appearance, but specifically by “a look in the eye” (p.29). This relationship between eyes and private thoughts is made more overt during Jekyll’s full statement of the case; when he writes about how close Hyde is to him, he describes it as “closer than a wife, closer than an eye” (p.61).
The difference between animal and man is also an important dichotomy in the story. Hyde is very often described in animalistic terms; although not looking like an animal, necessarily, his movements and speech are often described as such. The first parallels are in Hyde’s encounter with Utterson; when Utterson says his name, he shrinks back “with a hissing intake of the breath” (p.16). Additionally, on the next page, he “snarl[s] aloud into a savage laugh” (p.17). On this same page, Utterson finds Hyde “hardly human” (p.17). Later in the story the comparisons are drawn more noticeably; for example, Hyde attacks Carew “with ape-like fury” (p.22), when Poole sees him wearing his mask, he moves “like a monkey” (p. 37) and when Utterson is breaking down the door of the cabinet, Hyde screeches “as of mere animal terror” (p.38). Several other animalistic words are used throughout the story to describe Hyde’s actions, including “roaring” (p.56), “mauled” (p.56) and “growl” (p.58). These points are especially relevant for two reasons; firstly, the then-recent publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species setting forth a scientific theory in which humans and animals were, in essence, indistinguishable; and secondly, Victorian society being as image-conscious and puritanical as it was, ‘animal’ behaviur would be considered a disgrace, and the idea that humans might be descended from animals was practically heretical. It is arguable that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is, at least in part, conveying that humankind has both an animal side and a refined, cultured side, which the Victorians would have been considered to be polar opposites. However, this interpretation does not tell the full story, as Patricia Ferrer-Medina states in Wild Humans: “given his brutal nature, Hyde’s behavior is surprisingly civil: he refers to himself as a gentleman” (Ferrer-Medina, 2007, p.11). Mr. Hyde is shown several times throughout the story to be capable of refinement; when he first meets Utterson, he agrees to doing a favor for him with the words “with pleasure” (p.16), and he also furnishes Utterson with his address once he has seen his face – a social nicety which is far from animalistic.
During his meeting with Lanyon, too, he is shown as capable of maintaining a certain level of decorum, saying “I beg your pardon, Dr. Lanyon” (p.45) and being described as speaking “civilly” (p.45). The idea of Hyde as an animal (reinforced by his name being a homophone for “hide”, as in the hide of an animal) is not completely congruous, then, with his characterization throughout the novel; while he elicits extremely negative reactions from others, it is not often due to his behavior. This is arguably a comment on how animals do not necessarily have to act like animals all the time in order to be counted as such, and indeed that perhaps even humans themselves could be animals, as was suggested in Darwin’s paper. Jekyll’s statement that “man is not truly one, but truly two” (p.48) is perhaps the most revealing comment on this issue; it can easily be taken to mean that humans are not only cultured, but also have an animalistic dark side which is a remnant of our evolutionary history. This is further strengthened by Jekyll mentioning “the thorough and primitive duality of man” (p.49), the word ‘primitive’ potentially referring to humankind’s animal past as well as somewhat mirroring the word ‘primate’, since they have the same root word. Jekyll’s insistence when describing himself looking in the mirror as Hyde that “this, too, was myself” (p.51) is the final piece of evidence which supports this interpretation. In Wild Humans, Patricia Ferrer-Medina states: “The concept of evolution is also mentioned to explain why Hyde is smaller in stature than Jekyll. The doctor explains that because he had exercised his evil side less than his good side, when the evil side was given free rein it was “less robust and less developed.”” (Ferrer-Medina, 2007, p.10). This speaks of the evolutionary influence on Stevenson’s work, an influence which, crucially, placed the concepts of animal and man on the same spectrum, rather than being opposites.
There are also some interesting connections between these established dualities. For example, while a window is representative of private and public, it is also representative of light and dark; a window lets in light just as easily as it may let secrets out. There is also a correlation between the dualities themselves, as the dark is often an effective shield for private affairs, keeping them hidden from the public. One of the ironies of the text is that when Hyde’s door is broken by Utterson, he is found dead, but in a brightly-lit, cozy room. One would expect Hyde, as a figure of malice, brutishness and animality, to reside primarily in the dark, as would be in keeping with his characterization throughout the novella. However, the room being bright and warm is actually representative of these dualities, in that Jekyll’s private life (i.e. Mr. Hyde himself) is suddenly being illuminated.
The concepts of public and private are also important within the text itself, as Jekyll uses them to disassociate himself from the consequences of his actions, and to avoid moral responsibility for them. Jekyll says, in his final letter, that he allowed himself to become distanced from the actions of Hyde since “it was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired” (p.53). This puts forward Jekyll’s seeming idea that one’s private self should not be reflected, at all, in one’s public self. In In The Company of Strangers, Ronald Thomas writes:
“Jekyll’s consistent absenting of himself from his own texts accords with his purpose in creating Hyde in the first place: to deny himself moral agency, to cease being an “I.” This intention is fulfilled at the end of Jekyll’s statement in the hopeless confusion with which the first- and third-person pronouns are used; the writer finally begins referring to both Jekyll and Hyde as “them,” as autonomous in other words (95).” (Thomas, 1986, p.8/9))
By separating the two parts of himself, the public and private, at the end of the text Jekyll himself cannot identify with either one.
Ultimately, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde is replete with dualities; these are only three examples, but in many ways they are interwoven and self-reinforcing in such a way that they lend an extreme depth to the text, both in intrinsic and extrinsic readings. The presence of so many oppositions gives the novella a great sense of ambiguity, since they are so often mixed and matched, and it also (perhaps crucially) underlines the overarching theme: as put by Jekyll, that “man is not truly one, but truly two” (p.48).
Thomas, R. R. (1986) ‘In the Company of Strangers: Absent Voices in Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Beckett’s Company’. Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 32 no. 2, pp. 157 – 173
Ferrer-Medina, P. (2007) ‘The Culture/Nature Duality in Marie Darrieussecq’s Pig Tales and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Comparatist, vol. 31, pp. 67 – 87
Stevenson, R. L. (2003) ‘Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’. New York: WW Norton.
Liberation of Language in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
All language exists with two definitions. The primary, literal meaning is defined as what the object physically is, and the secondary, symbolic meaning is what the object represents. An object’s literal meaning remains a stationary constant, as it exists in a physical reality, and can only change if the object also physically changes. The symbolic meaning, however, is subjective to an individual’s perspective. Therefore, if a form becomes ‘rigid’, the symbolic meaning is also stationary and all language is restricted to producing a single interpretation. Language becomes ‘ready-made’ in both literal and symbolic meaning. To ‘revolt’ from this, R. L. Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray both offer alternative symbolic meanings for the same, set language. Through this, language is only ‘ready-made’ syntactically, and is liberated from the ‘bondage of traditional form’ though development of the symbolic meaning.
A ‘ready-made’ language was originally created to describe a normative, human reality. As each novel encounters the ‘other’, a ‘double’ that does not fully belong in this reality, ‘ready-made’ language becomes inadequate in description. Freud’s theory on the Uncanny argues for an uneasiness in the heimlich developing to represent the unheimlich. Jekyll’s double is both familiar in his human resemblance, and disturbingly unfamiliar in his deformity.  To describe the unfamiliar accurately, a new language must be created. To transition from a set, traditional language to a new, unfamiliar vocabulary presents difficulty. Mr Enfield, as a model of the reasonable, middle-class gentlemen, embodies this struggle in his attempt to articulate Mr Hyde’s features in an inadequate, pre-formed language: ‘He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point.’  Initially, Mr Enfield describes Hyde as ‘deformed’. However, he seemingly decides this singular adjective incompetent in offering an accurate portrayal of Hyde. The description transitions instead to a ‘strong feeling’, that features deformity, but now contains further unidentified horrors, made increasingly grotesque through the inability to determine a literal description. The only certainty present is in emotion that is ‘strong’ and asserts Hyde ‘must’ be deformed, implying a Tennyson-esque concept. Language limits emotion, as abstract feelings have to be expressed through a ‘ready-made’ vocabulary. Through this inability to describe Hyde in a ‘ready-made’ language, Enfield can neither classify him in a ‘ready-made’ category. Consequently, he addresses Hyde as ‘he’ as opposed to ‘it’, identifying the ‘other’ as physically closer to himself, Utterson and Lanyon than with any class of creature. Almost subconsciously, Enfield aligns Mr Hyde with Dr Jekyll, forcing the ‘unheimlich’ closer to the ‘heimlich’ form. Initially, Hyde is assumed to wholly inhabit the unheimlich ‘other’. This sense of uneasiness therefore emerges from the inability to classify Hyde in ‘ready-made’ categories of ‘human’ or ‘animal’. The new language that must be created only slightly differs from traditional form, and exists as both familiar and unfamiliar.
Stevenson struggles to mold a ‘ready-made’ language to a stationary image of Hyde’s unfamiliar form. The Picture of Dorian Gray instead encounters the limitations of a pre-formed language through the ‘other’ existing not as human, but as an inanimate object capable of human activity. This variety of personification requires a new set of verbs. The portrait is seemingly supernatural, yet it’s non-human actions are restricted to a human vocabulary. Wilde creates a conscious imbalance between vocabulary and meaning by using ‘heimlich’, pre-existing words to describe a supernatural scene that requires new symbolism: What was that loathsome red dew that gleamed, wet and glistening, on one of the hands, as though the canvas had sweated blood?  Dorian does not attempt, as Enfield does, to immediately identify either the substance, or the emotion it creates within him. Instead, Dorian reverts to a question to suggest he must gain the knowledge he lacks from an outside source. The same struggle of identification that Enfield encounters is present. Dorian can see the ‘red dew’, but cannot decide upon a noun to accurately describe the vision, presenting an uneasiness in being unable to identify the ‘unheimlich’. The consideration of, firstly, ‘dew’ presents an Eden-like image that traditionally would dictate a new beginning. Wilde inverts this through irony, to suggest the painting as taking, rather than giving, life. In progressing to ‘sweat’, the substance still remains temporarily less threatening than blood, however loses the innocence associated with ‘dew’. Syntactically, and mentally, Dorian only identifies the substance as bearing the closest resemblance to ‘blood’ at the end. Thus far, a ‘ready-made’ language is adequate in description, as all these substances exist in a human world. The previously stationary symbolic meaning is then taken from a traditional context to the unfamiliar Gothic through the moisture’s origin. The blood has ‘sweated’, not from flesh, but from the canvas. This action forces the picture to ‘revolt’ from it’s identity as an inanimate object, to a supernatural context where it becomes partially human. A ‘revolt’ from ‘ready-made’ language –that is used to describe a mortal, earthly world –is therefore necessary. Neither Dorian nor Hyde belong to this world, and cannot be described by it’s language.
Symons urges a revolt in both ‘ready-made language’ and ‘form’. In The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson revolts from this traditional form through narrative style. Instead of adhering to a singular narrative voice, the different narrative perspectives allow the novella to exist simultaneously as a crime report and memoir. However, even these distinct categories are not definite. Dr Lanyon’s narrative is a separate chapter yet is interrupted by Jekyll’s epistolary, suggesting that a claim to an account does not deem it exclusively one perspective. ‘Dr Lanyon’s Narrative’ focuses on physical interpretation: ‘as I looked, there came, I thought, a change –he seemed to swell –his face became suddenly black’ (Stevenson, p.41). If this novella is categorised as a crime report, the third person narration is the ‘traditional form’, as the perspective traditionally approaches the crime from the outside. Lanyon is detached in the action of seeing –‘I looked’ –and reporting what physically appears –‘his face became suddenly black’ –in front of him. However, this sense of detachment is also limiting. He restricts identity to the basic and external, and can only describe Jekyll in a child-like context of colour, with ‘black’, one-dimensionally representing death. Despite initially categorizing Stevenson’s novella as a crime report, Lanyon’s perspective is still subjective. He reports what he ‘thought’ ‘seemed’ to be real, suggesting that an attempt to remain within a traditional narrative form is, in itself, difficult. Stevenson perhaps deems Lanyon’s narrative as necessary to identify the bondage of a traditional, wholly aesthetic, third person narrative. As this form is restricted to exterior identity, Lanyon’s analysis cannot extend to the possibility of psychological motive behind action. ‘Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case’ is therefore necessary to this fiction also, as the title suggests a forensically accurate, physical description is not a ‘full statement’. In moving from this detective genre –that identifies who has committed the crime– to a first-person, psychological account, –why the crime was committed– Stevenson completes the narrative through adding the possibility of emotion. Only through revolting from the rigidity of one narrative is the reader allowed to examine and consequently sympathize with Jekyll’s actions, that are revealed as compulsive.
As previously established, Stevenson ‘revolts’ from traditional form through the act of writing. Wilde also revolts from the ‘bondage’ of traditional form through concept. Instead of language, The Picture of Dorian Gray interacts with art. Traditionally, Victorian art carried a political or social message, such as Ford Maddox Brown’s ‘Work’, that depicts reality to provoke emotional reaction and subsequently action. Wilde breaks this ‘bondage’ through the aestheticism movement of the 1890’s. His novel both exists as and contains ‘art for art’s sake’, revoking any responsibility previously associated with the action of viewing art. Dorian’s picture is created to provoke pleasure, not to induce social action: ‘Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act’ (Wilde, p.198). Wilde perhaps condemns this extreme lack of traditional form, and the responsibility that accompanies it. Aestheticism refuses not only ‘action’, but the ‘desire to act’, a drive that future action is dependent upon. However, identifying future action, if the activity is not specified, as either good or evil is almost impossible. Removing this desire does not deem Dorian as either antithesis, but creates an indifference to responsibility and consequence. Whilst his hand does not personally murder Sibyl Vane, his indifference inadvertently causes her death. A ‘revolt’ to aestheticism can therefore be condemned as dangerously liberal. In refusing the social responsibility traditionally associated with art, Dorian refuses a moral responsibility also, suggesting that a lack of ‘bondage’ allows for too much freedom. This unsustainability, exhibited by Dorian’s inability to uphold a visual perfection, suggests aestheticism can only ever exist as a ‘revolt’ and will not develop as the new ‘traditional form’ of art. This ‘revolt’ in art is initially harmless, as Wilde claims the painting has ‘no influence’ on Dorian’s actions. He temporarily achieves this by splitting his conscience and physical body between painting and the human form. Yet, this separation does not consider mental influence. The painting haunts Dorian’s mind until it, ironically, does affect his actions. In attempting to engage with aestheticism to ‘revolt’ from the ‘traditional form’ of art, Wilde almost returns to again to a traditional form. The picture becomes art with a meaning and an inescapable responsibility. Bondage of form, even when attempted, cannot be easily broken.
Thus far, the form, both the ‘traditional’ and the ‘revolt’, has been examined as stationary concepts. The traditional form is implied as stationary through it’s ‘bondage’, and the ‘revolt’ exists as a new form, yet is still stationary. Walter Pater argues for a development, that ‘every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face.’  Pater focuses on the transition between forms, highlighting this experience as more important than the form you either begin, or finalize with. Dr Jekyll views bondage as, specifically, the human body that remains in a ‘traditional’, singular form. The transition to Mr Hyde is, in Dr Jekyll’s perspective, growing ‘perfect’, as his experiment is essentially a success in his liberation from a singular form. However, in choosing to break free of this bondage, Jekyll can never again return to a singular physical form: ‘if I slept, or even dozed for a moment in my chair, it was always as Hyde that I awakened’ (Stevenson, p.53). Without this bondage to a single body, the boundaries between Jekyll’s two forms also cease to exist. The narrative ‘I’ claims Jekyll’s voice, yet is simultaneously conscious that he has ‘awakened’ as Hyde. The human form, ironically, still remains as a bondage for Dr Jekyll. He is successful in breaking free from a physical bondage, yet his mind remains imprisoned within a different form. Despite Pater’s focus on experience, the transition occurs during ‘moments’ where Jekyll is in a ‘doze’, and barely conscious. The experience therefore belongs to the ‘perfect’ form he becomes, and the reader is refused access to Hyde’s narration. The transformation itself is not witnessed, as if the reader too is in a state of semi-consciousness. Even in Pater’s idea of development, Stevenson introduces new ‘rigid’ forms. ‘Always’ suggests a definite result to the process, and simply a transition to a different, certain form. To escape wholly from the ‘bondage’ of form, whether traditional or not, Jekyll must eternally remain within this ‘moment’, an action unsustainable in itself.
The concept of ‘bondage’ has been explored as both negative in its restricting influence, and positive in it’s implication of necessary social boundaries. Pater’s statement defines growth as moving towards perfection, suggesting that any ‘bondage’ that refuses movement is a negative concept. The Picture of Dorian Gray instead considers Pater’s idea of growth as a negative aspect. Wilde extends this concept beyond a ‘moment’ to an entire lifespan, defining growth as a submission to the bondage of a physically decaying human form. The moment where Dorian anticipates this exists as his realization that youthful beauty is invaluable, displacing the vocal proclamation ‘I would give my soul for that!’: Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen […] the grace of his figure broken and deformed (Wilde, p.26-27). The image of Dorian’s future self is aligned with Hyde’s present condition in their claim to deformity. When Enfield describes Hyde, deformity equates to a degenerative, physical form. Instead, Dorian’s ‘deformity’ relates to his ‘grace’, suggesting his worth is based entirely on a socially accepted aesthetic beauty. An attempt to alter ‘traditional form’ is therefore attempted. Dorian temporarily inhabits a transcendent, immortal form and attempts to assert it as the traditional human form by living his entire life through it. The human body is not capable of liberation, as it is for Jekyll, but acts as a cage that will stunt Dorian’s social aspirations by becoming inadequate in decay. Through looking to the future, Wilde pre-empts a process that will occur after Pater’s ‘moment’ of perfection. It remains impossible to move beyond the highest level of perfection. After Pater’s ‘moment’ has passed, the human form cannot develop any further, and will begin to degenerate. For Dorian, the ‘bondage’ to a particular form becomes an ambition. However, to remain as a ‘traditional’ form is still defined as a mortal, physical bondage. Instead he attempts to ‘revolt’ from form, not to Pater’s development, but to a form that will not decay, but still resemble a human. Therefore, that action of looking forward to an impending moment acts as the defining moment where Dorian decides to escape the ‘bondage’ of decay that a traditional human is subject to.
To ‘revolt’ from ‘traditional form’ has consequences. Society punishes both Dr Jekyll and Dorian Gray for revolting from tradition as individuals. Dorian is forced to unite his conscience with the ‘bondage’ of his physical frame, returning once again to a conventional human form. In parallel, Dr Jekyll is refused existence in a reality where he can inhabit a form that accepts no social responsibility. For social change to occur in an established culture, it must occur as a gradual, collective change to a new tradition. The attempts of both protagonists can therefore only ever exist as an individual ‘revolt’, and will never develop to a reformed tradition. Society punishes both Dorian and Jekyll for revolting from tradition, deeming the death of the rebels as the only method to maintain this ‘bondage’.
Bibliography Pater, W., The Renaissance (Oxford: OUP, 1986)
Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny (London: Penguin, 2003)
Stevenson, R. L., The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004)
Wilde, O., The Picture of Dorian Gray (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1998)
The Good Mr. Hyde
“I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man . . . if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both” (41).So says Henry Jekyll in a heartfelt letter to his best friend, Henry Utterson. His final letter to his friend draws upon realization after realization regarding the basic foundation of human nature: the omnipresent duality of good and evil. Indeed, Stevenson’s story of Jekyll and Hyde is a clear juxtaposition of these two ideals. On one side of the coin, Stevenson describes Dr. Henry Jekyll, who from his respectable social title to his pleasant good looks describes a perfect good. He is “a large, well-made, man of fifty” (18), well-liked, and highly-respected. Mr. Hyde, meanwhile, seemingly counters everything Jekyll stands for: he is pale, dwarfish, ugly, and “gives the impression of deformity without any nameable malformation” (15). The fact that these two diametric opposites are revealed, in the end, to be the same person represents Robert Louis Stevenson’s deliberate contrast between the ideas of good and evil, and more importantly, the incessant struggle between them. However, through Jekyll’s inability to fully split himself into two beings, Stevenson preaches about the flawed definitions of good and evil.Although Jekyll is meant to be the “perfect good” and Hyde the “ultimate bad”, it is only true on a superficial level. Stevenson’s novella is not so simple that these two characters can be defined in such stark, black and white terms: instead, each is an amalgamation of both ideals. In fact, in some ways, Hyde can even be viewed as a better person than Jekyll, especially to those who value honesty and truth over social goodness. He, at least, is honest and straightforward in his desires. Jekyll is a “hypocritical creature carefully concealing his little sins” (Nabokov 10) who tries desperately to hide his immoralities behind a mask, deceiving everyone he knows. Even in the face of death, Jekyll refuses to come out and explain himself to his friends, opting instead to reveal the truth in a letter meant to be read post-mortem, poisoning himself when on the verge of exposure. Ironically, even his adamant denial of hypocrisy in his letter to Utterson is a testament to his hypocrisy: “I was in no sense a hypocrite; both sides of me were in dead earnest; I was no more myself when I laid aside restraint and plunged in shame, than when I labored, in the eye of day, at the furtherance of knowledge or the relief of sorrow and suffering” (41).Though Jekyll is always quick to defend himself from accusations of his hypocrisy because he sees himself as justified in his pursuit of perfection, it is undeniable that he constantly uses Hyde—which, as Nabokov points out, derives from “Haven” in Danish (Nabokov 9)—as a hiding place behind which he can act upon his base instincts. Jekyll lives vicariously through Hyde’s freedom and delightfully uses him as a mask while he lives out his most wicked fantasies: “I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine. I stretched out my hands, exulting in the freshness of `these sensations; and in the act, I was suddenly aware that I had lost in stature” (42). Since Hyde is Jekyll’s mask, an extension of his original being, they are the same person; they only differ in inhibition. The two have the exact same instincts and desires, but while Jekyll puts effort into restraining himself from acting upon his viler instincts in an effort to maintain his high social standing, Hyde acts on desire and animalistic recklessness. Hyde releases his inhibitions, becoming a “social bad”—ugly, rude, violent, and cruel—because he sees himself as allowed to destroy his social duties.Stevenson uses this marked contrast to make an obvious point: every human is “not truly one, but truly two” (41). However, he also goes on to suggest that this same omnipresent balance of good and evil is both a necessary and fragile trait found in every individual. The conflict here, therefore, comes from from Hyde’s necessary existence, not the dissonance between good and evil. Through that observation, we realize that the reason behind Jekyll’s inability to fully separate his alter egos was simply due to the natural order of the universe: it is not possible to split something into “good” and “evil” because the two ideas so overwhelmingly overlap. Jekyll was unable to control the two separate beings because we, as humans, were not meant to be able to do so. The definitions of good and bad are flawed because they need to be—because it is not possible for them not to be. They are flawed because true good and evil do not exist, and therefore, they cannot be divided into separate entities.The reason that Hyde becomes evil and Jekyll becomes good in Stevenson’s novella is because they themselves believe to be those things—not because they actually are. Jekyll’s split into two personalities is more a psychological division rather than a corporeal one: by accepting a specific societal role, Jekyll and Hyde grows into “good” and “evil.” Because Jekyll considers himself responsible for social righteousness, he becomes a “good” in the way that society views good: gentlemanly, smartly dressed, and intelligent. His good appearance is what makes him “good” in the eyes of his city. Hyde, meanwhile, believes he is meant to be a bad person, and increasingly releases that idea upon his environment: once he is unwilling to remain a mask any longer, he soon begins to exert a will of his own. After Hyde tramples upon a young girl, Jekyll suppresses Hyde for nearly two months before Hyde is able exert enough resolve to reemerge. At this point Hyde’s consciousness becomes too much for Jekyll to subdue and Hyde becomes more and more realized until it is finally Jekyll who is the shell.Thus, Stevenson’s Strange Case warns us about trying to overstep human boundaries—it is in our best interest not to reach the potential that Jekyll was so fixated on. That balance between good and evil exists to limit the extent to which people can become “good” or “bad” rather than maximize it: it stops us from becoming bloodthirsty, uninhibited men like Hyde.After all, this balance is what makes us human. We all have faults, and we all have an “imperfect and divided countenance … commingled out of good and evil” within us (43). Trying to rid ourselves of that vital human characteristic is akin to amputating a limb. It is all a part of the human struggle to try to control both sides, but in the end, we will all only become stronger and better for it—advancing not only our individual selves, but our impacts on the world.WORKS CITEDNabokov, Vladimir. “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. New York: Signet Classic, 2003.Stevenson, Robert Louis. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 1886. Reprint. NY: Norton, 2003. Print.
The Limitations of Language in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, investigates the effectuality of language as a means of rational and logical communication when confronted with situations that represent the intangible and supernatural. Throughout the text, it becomes evident that there is a gradual disappearance of the ability to communicate ideas verbally when characters attempt to explain certain things – particularly, situations involving Mr. Hyde. This erosion of logical communication through language is represented and illustrated by several characters, mainly Mr. Enfield, Dr. Lanyon, and Mr. Utterson. These characters all represent the theme of silence that permeates the novel, and with this silence comes a gradual illustration of the limitations of language and its inability to efficiently rationalize and convey encounters with the supernatural. The first type of silence that is present throughout the novel is associated with refusals of various characters to discuss topics that could potentially harm their reputations as well as the reputations of others. It is possible that in some cases, Stevenson uses this lack of description as a mechanism of ambiguity, so as not to allow the reader to be completely familiar with the histories and backgrounds of his characters (Thomas 249). Additionally, there exists a refusal among characters to discuss various topics that would force them to pursue a situation with the potential to go beyond the limitations of reason, and this seems to stem from a concern for reputation and public virtue. For example, Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon both leave records of what they have seen and done, but they also insist that the records not be opened until after they have died. This suggests that the truth can be exposed only after the death of the person whose reputation it might ruin. Stevenson may be suggesting that this scorn for the unpleasant shown through the characters’ refusal to discuss certain topics is an outcome of the repressiveness of Victorian society, which prized good taste above all and preferred to subdue or even reject the truth if it had the capacity to upset the traditional paradigm of the era (Thomas 250). A second form of silence in the novel is that of uncontrollable speechlessness. Throughout the book, language – a rational manner of perceiving the world – is expressed as existing in opposition to the fantastical or supernatural. When faced with the irrational and things that are intangible, language does not suffice. In Richard Tithecotte’s book Of Men and Monsters, the author identifies “on the one hand, the cozy world of well-lit interiors, of hearths, of speech, and on the other the cold, dark world of the unspeakable” (Tithecotte 50). According to Tithecotte, Dr. Jekyll’s house, “with the front associated with Jekyll and the back associated with Hyde,” encourages the reader to “interpret these characters … in terms of ‘public side’ of the self and ‘non-social, private’ side” (Tithecotte 50). It can be further deduced that these silences are mirrored and illustrated by various secondary characters in the novel, particularly Mr. Enfield, Dr. Lanyon and Mr. Utterson. In the beginning of the novel, Mr. Enfield attempts to describe Mr. Hyde’s trampling of a young girl to Mr. Utterson. He says the following:He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point. He’s an extraordinary-looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way. No, sir; I can make no hand of it; I can’t describe him. And it’s not want of memory; for I declare I can see him in this moment. (Stevenson 9)Mr. Enfield’s confused response “finds its counterparts” in the virtually “identical” reports of Mr. Utterson, Poole, and Dr. Lanyon (Arata 41). This lack of articulation establishes a pattern of speechlessness for the remainder of the novel, as not one single person can verbally convey a concrete description of Mr. Hyde. Instead, many people just conclude that he appears ugly and deformed in some indefinable way. As Joyce Carol Oates says in her essay “Jekyll/Hyde,” “Viewed from without Hyde is detestable in the abstract… Another witness testifies to his mysteriously intangible deformity ‘without any nameable malformation’” (Oates 605). These failures to accurately describe Mr. Hyde contribute to the development of an overall feeling that he is a strange and mysterious character, someone whose deformity is ethereal. In fact, it could be said that language itself fails when it comes face to face with Mr. Hyde. As Dr. Jekyll’s supernatural creation, Mr. Hyde does not really belong in the natural world, and correspondingly, he evades the “conceptual faculties” that are possessed by mortal human beings (Oates 604). One particular character that maintains a silence throughout the book is Dr. Hastie Lanyon, whose main significance has been to function as a representative of reason and logic. Dr. Lanyon dismisses Dr. Jekyll’s experiments as “unscientific balderdash” and essentially is the epitome of the rational man of science, distinctly opposed to anything that would cause superstition and fantasy (Stevenson 12). Dr. Lanyon’s deterioration mirrors the gradual erosion of logical forms of communication and explanation in the face of the supernatural in the novel. In the last chapter of the book, the reader is exposed to Dr. Lanyon’s account of what he has seen. However, it is important to note that while the doctor’s account does include many details of what he has seen, there is really a lack of explanation. The reader is left in the darkness of the unknown with regards to how or why the creation of the potion came to be. Dr. Lanyon writes that Dr. Jekyll confessed everything to him after he had completed the transformation. At the crucial point of his narrative, however, “when he is about to reveal the connection between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Lanyon duplicates Dr. Jekyll’s acts of censorship: ’what he told me in the next hour I cannot bring my mind to set on paper’” (Thomas 249-250). As with other silences in the novel, this refrain from speaking the truth comes from Dr. Lanyon’s refusal to confront such a truth that would upset his view of the world. Through his experimentation and creations, Dr. Jekyll has entered into an unstable realm dealing with investigations about the human nature, and Dr. Lanyon cannot conceive of this because he has always adhered strictly to rational, materialist science. When he is forced to confront this realm (upon seeing Mr. Hyde, who represents the manifestation of the supernatural), Dr. Lanyon begins to deteriorate, attempting to reject the undeniable event that has destroyed his worldview. Dr. Lanyon’s written record relates a warning that was technically delivered by Mr. Hyde, who accurately assesses Lanyon as someone who cannot resist his curiosity (Stevenson 50). However, by tempting Dr. Lanyon with the power of knowledge, Mr. Hyde does provide Dr. Lanyon with the chance to resist a desire for answers. The impact of the shock Dr. Lanyon experiences upon seeing Dr. Jekyll’s transformation is such that it causes Dr. Lanyon, a man who has been dedicated to pursuing knowledge, to realize that some knowledge is too powerful and dangerous for natural men: “I sometimes think that if we knew all, we should be more glad to get away” (Stevenson 29). Dr. Lanyon has determined that he would rather suffer in silence than have to face the exposure of such dark truths. He realizes now that some knowledge is not worth having. Like Dr. Lanyon, Mr. Utterson is a man who appreciates and believes in traditional, conservative knowledge. Since he is a lawyer, he is incredibly familiar with the laws that govern the ways in which Victorian society functions. Upon hearing Mr. Enfield’s account of Mr. Hyde trampling the young girl, Mr. Utterson is haunted by a dream in which Hyde “had no face, or one that baffled him and melted before his eyes” (Stevenson 13). He becomes obsessed with a need to see Hyde’s face, and begins spending time near the building Hyde had entered. This growing fascination is described at length:And still the figure had no face by which he might know it; even in his dreams, it had no face, or one that baffled him and melted before his eyes; and thus it was that there sprang up and grew apace in the lawyer’s mind a singularly strong, almost an inordinate, curiosity to behold the features of the real Mr. Hyde. If he could but once set eyes on him, he thought the mystery would lighten and perhaps roll altogether away, as was the habit of mysterious things when well examined. He might see a reason for his friend’s strange preference or bondage (call it what you please) and even for the startling clause of the will. At least it would be a face worth seeing: the face of a man who was without bowels of mercy: a face which had but to show itself to raise up, in the mind of the unimpressionable Enfield, a spirit of enduring hatred. (Stevenson 13)Mr. Utterson’s obsession with seeing Mr. Hyde’s face is most likely a product of his belief system that ultimately assumes truth can be identified by its external appearance. Not only does Mr. Utterson become preoccupied with seeing Mr. Hyde’s face; he also becomes obsessed with finding the words to define Mr. Hyde’s indistinguishable deformity. For Mr. Utterson, the thoroughly social man, “words are surrogates for reality, manipulation of the former representing control over the latter. While the use of language in this way is common enough, Utterson chronically fails to discriminate between the symbol and the reality” (Fraustino 235). For example, in his confusion about the origins or basis of the relationship between the respectable Dr. Jekyll and the mysterious – if not sinister – Mr. Hyde, Mr. Utterson reads: “Henry Jekyll, M.D., D.C.L., L.L.D., F.R.S., etc.” and determines that in these words there is no room for Mr. Hyde; to him, these abbreviations encompass the total reality (Stevenson 11). However, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde clearly implies that words cannot effectively convey reality. Examples of this implication are abundant, but a particular few include Dr. Lanyon’s declaration that he has “brought on” himself “a punishment and a danger” that he “cannot name,” Dr. Jekyll’s statement that his “affairs cannot be mended by talking,” and Mr. Hyde’s saying “never a word” prior to killing Sir Danvers (Stevenson 20, 29). Therefore, it is suggested that the truth about Mr. Hyde’s character and his relationship with Dr. Jekyll are beyond the extent of Mr. Utterson’s language, if not all language. The frustration that ensues (specifically for Mr. Utterson) when faced with this impossibility for the traditional Victorian man to come to terms with life’s illogic is demonstrated with the feeble explanation Mr. Utterson provides Poole about how the man who is writing in Dr. Jekyll’s hand could potentially be both Dr. Jekyll and someone else, someone completely unknown. As Daniel Fraustino says in an essay for the Arizona Quarterly, “the impeccable logic which Utterson uses to explain erroneously the enigma of the familiar hand and strange voice satirizes his methodology and ultimately his basic grasp of reality” (Fraustino 235):These are all very strange circumstances,” said Mr. Utterson, “but I think I begin to see daylight. Your master, Poole, is plainly seized with one of those maladies that both torture and deform the sufferer; hence, for aught I know, the alteration of his voice; hence the mask and the avoidance of his friends; hence his eagerness to find this drug, by means of which the poor soul retains some hope of ultimate recovery – God grant that he be not deceived! There is my explanation; it is sad enough, Poole, ay, and appalling to consider; but it is plain and natural, hangs well together, and delivers us from all exorbitant alarms. (Stevenson 38)Mr. Utterson’s attempt to place experience within the narrow confines of a world artificially ordered by language is what underlies his concern that his explanation be “plain,” “natural,” hang “well together,” and deliver him from “all exorbitant alarms” (Stevenson 38). Perhaps this is again Stevenson making the suggestion to the reader that, “unlike his early ancestors, modern man suffers from an ever-widening split in his consciousness, and we are all Lanyons, Uttersons and Jekylls who have repressed, alienated, or otherwise estranged the Hyde within us – acts which doom us to inhabit the outskirts of reality as well as those of our own personalities” (Fraustino 235). The presence of silence throughout Stevenson’s novel serves as a means to communicate the limitations of language. Mr. Hyde, a fundamentally supernatural creation whose origins belong to Dr. Jekyll, is emblematic of all things intangible and ethereal that cannot effectively be explained through language. Dr. Lanyon, a man of traditional convention, represents those in Victorian society with the desire to pursue knowledge but the refusal to confront situations that will destroy their perception of the world. Mr. Utterson represents much of the same, but additionally illustrates the refusal to recognize the truth, and the pathetic, satirized attempt to reject the supernatural with feeble explanations such as the one he provides Poole regarding Dr. Jekyll’s state. Ultimately, silence in Stevenson’s novel serves to demonstrate to the audience that at the time, there was a lack of exposure to things that would be deemed “supernatural.” When confronted with situations that presented things that were hard to identify or explain, the traditional Victorian response was to reject or deny these things, either through silence or through attempt to use language to figure out a way to use conventional knowledge to explain these situations. Works CitedFraustino, Daniel V. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Anatomy of Misperception.” Arizona Quarterly 38.3 (1982): 235. Oates, Joyce Carol. “Jekyll/Hyde.” Hudson Review XL. 54 (1988): 603–608. Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2006. Tithecotte, Richard. Of Men and Monsters: Jeffrey Dahmer and the Construction of The Serial Killer. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1997. Thomas, Ronald R. Dreams of Authority: Freud and the Fictions of the Unconscious. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1990.