Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Literature Analysis

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The Victorian Era: Difference between Men & Women

A new way of life for the English people is introduced in the Victorian era in London. It is also introduced the notion of capitalism and other Western changes. This era is named after the Queen Victoria of London who is the second Longest reigning of the monarch. In this era, people explore the differences in dominion men and women.  The pillar of a home depends on both men and women. The Men own the sphere of the public domain, while women are depicted over the privacy of their homes. Women are most impacted in this era, where they get a chance to prove the importance of them. Women always are depicted to be perfect, act appropriately in public, and remain quite like a doll. In 1919, through lots of effort, women get a chance to vote. This era also defines a new idea of women which impacts their liberty. Although there are still divides between the women and men as far as advantages in education and marriage, this era set women on the path for changes. The Victorian era also reveals the differences in classes such as rich and poor class.

The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Background

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novel that is published by Robert Louis in the year 1886. Even though it is developed earlier before the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Fred, it can be closely associated with the concepts about behavior as discussed in the theory. It is about a man, Dr. Jekyll, who hides his secret identity that is appeared in a different character named Mr. Hyde. Stevenson displays a lot of the Victorian keys of reputation and social status through his work. As with Utterson, he is an ally and a lawyer of Dr. Jekyll. He is also introduced by his social status as the ideal Victorian man. Mr. Hyde is an alter personality of Dr. Jekyll who is shown as lower in class and a criminal from his evil acts. Edward Hyde demonstrates Dr. Jekyll’s inherently malevolent nature and his emergence as a result of Dr. Jekyll’s inner struggle of his conscious state such as his social and sexual repressions.

Mr. Hyde represents Dr. Jekyll’s desires to be free and his ID

  • Mr. Hyde represents Dr. Jekyll’s desires to be free and his ID. Dr. Jekyll drinks the potion to separate his desire for malevolence from his respectable character shown in Victorian society. Although he transforms into Edward Hyde by drinking a potion, Dr. Jekyll still lives within Mr. Hyde. Stevenson argues, “Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde”(Stevenson 81).
  • Dr. Jekyll remembers the vindictive thoughts and acts Hyde commits. Jekyll controls his malevolence by helping Mr. Hyde in the town. For Instance, Hyde has run over a lady and later he compensates the family with a check from his own account. Dr. Jekyll is a respectable man, he cannot indulge in his desires. However, as Hyde, he is free to oblige in all his malevolent yearnings. Edward Hyde has power, and he is also fearless of judgment from anyone. Dr. Jekyll’s reputation is important to him because of the way society thinks and behaves. Through his desire to be careless and free, it can be judged that Dr. Jekyll has an addiction to Edward Hyde. Daniel G. Wright describes and explains Dr. Jekyll could be an addict.
  • Daniel Wright believes, “an addict untutored in the pathology of addiction will always so mistakenly suppose that we can regulate the use and effects of his intoxicant. Of course, he cannot…” (Wright 255). Dr. Jekyll becomes addicted to Mr. Hyde like a drug which gives him the thrill of being fearless from Victorian society. Dr. Jekyll enjoys the freedom and power that Hyde possesses in his character which Dr. Jekyll desires. Both Edward Hyde’s actions and appearance are different from Dr. Jekyll, so he favors Hyde more. Stevenson argues, “Hence, although I had now two characters as well as two appearances, one was wholly evil, and the other was still the old Henry Jekyll, that incongruous compound of whose reformation and improvement I had already learned to despair” (Stevenson 79). Dr. Jekyll knows his own character as well as Hyde’s.
  • Jekyll claims he and Hyde are two different people with different motives. However, he favors one over the other. Dr. Jekyll favors Hyde more because he wholly knows him, his thoughts, and his motives. Edward Hyde is completely evil, and there is not a good bone in him. On the other hand, Jekyll is loathing. Dr. Jekyll knows the characteristics of himself, however, he despises himself because he lives two lives. However, he does not like trying to control and hide his true desires. Jekyll prefers Hyde because of his freedom and believes that Hyde is his true self. In addition, he sees Hyde as his ID and not as an addiction. Wright argues, “The illusion of self-control perpetuates and reinforces the addict’s dependence on his intoxicating substance or behavior because reliance on such self-misrepresentation never compels the addict to address the addiction as an integral part of his being” (Wright 256).
  • Dr. Jekyll is misrepresented that he is controlling Hyde. By trying to control Hyde, yet still transforming into Hyde, Jekyll does not see it as an addiction. Dr. Jekyll controls Hyde in order to keep his respectable reputation in the town. Although he controls Hyde, he still indulges and enjoys his malevolence. Jekyll is an addict who desires to be free.

Mr. Utterson represents Jekyll’s ego

Mr. Utterson represents Jekyll’s ego. They both choose to remain in Victorian blindness. Utterson is described as a well-respected man with a clean reputation in the town. He is also seen as an ideal man in Victorian society. While talking to Jekyll through his window, Jekyll quickly thrust himself down as to have lost control of himself, Utterson is disturbed. Stevenson describes, walking away, “They were both pale, and there was an answering horror in their eyes. ‘God forgive us, God forgive us,’ said Mr. Utterson” (Stevenson 46). When Utterson is leaving from Jekyll’s window, he is enlightened and feared. Utterson is pale because his friend Jekyll is acting strangely. Dr. Jekyll is trying to control Hyde, but it seems like; he is losing control over Mr. Hyde. After, watching this unusual transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, Utterson and Mr. Enfield are frightened. Utterson walks away saying “God forgives us, God forgives us” as a statement to remove the knowing of something strange about Dr. Jekyll from their knowledge. When Utterson goes pale, it is showing his fear. He does not understand the meaning of Jekyll’s abrupt and abnormal plunge in despair. At this moment, Utterson is both terrifying and unassertively disturbing. He is terrifying because he has never seen such behavior, and Jekyll shows a face of despair and terror. However, Utterson is also disturbed by the abnormal misshapen with Jekyll. Utterson knows something is strange going on in Dr. Jekyll’s life, and he is passive to find out the truth about his friend’s unsettling acts. Utterson is very uncertain about whether to investigate or not this case because it might ruin his reputation. Anything that is dishonorable towards his reputation, he stays away from. By praying for forgiveness, it removes his guilt from knowing and cleans his reputation and honor. Utterson is both terrified and disturbed for Jekyll, and he is in a dilemma between his reputation, and loyalty to his friend. Comitini explains, “The natural, and normal are the limits of Utterson’s perspective, restricted by legal concerns of will and individual concerns of loyalty and affection” (Comitini 119). As Jekyll’s lawyer and having an honorable reputation, Utterson must decide to put either his friend’s life or his reputation on the line. Legally and as a friend, Utterson must help and protect Jekyll, but personally, if he investigates this case, unfortunately, his eyes are opened to Jekyll’s secrets than he can’t risk his honor from society. Utterson walks a fine line between loyalty and honor. However, Utterson does choose to investigate Jekyll’s life. When searching for Jekyll’s chamber, Utterson finds an envelope addressed to him. When he picks it up, Utterson cries, “he was alive, and here this day. He cannot have been disposed of in so short a space, he must be still alive, he must have fled!” (Stevenson 61). Mr. Utterson has been worried about his friend, despite his desire to stay blind to his secrets. He is searching for Jekyll’s room because he wants to have a basic understanding of what Jekyll is going through. By him searching Jekyll’s chamber, Utterson chooses to be loyal to his friend over his reputation. He believes Jekyll is in deep trouble, and he wants to save him. Utterson is loyal to Dr. Jekyll, but not Hyde. He believes there is some strange relationship between those two.  Utterson believes this relationship one of the blackmails.  Comitini claims, “Utterson believes Jekyll is not acting by his own free will -he believes he is being coerced or blackmailed by Hyde” (Comitini 120). Because he does not have any acquaintance with Hyde, Utterson does not trust him. In Jekyll’s will, Hyde is left with all of Jekyll’s possessions and inquires.

Utterson finds this very peculiar, and he fears that Hyde is hiding something. Additionally, he wants to help his friend and believes Hyde is the source of Jekyll’s troubles. Utterson does choose to stay loyal to his friend, despite his reputation. Utterson is depicted to be a society in the dilemma of opening their eyes to their malevolence. Just as Mr. Utterson chooses his friend over his honor, society should choose sight of their sins over a perfect reputation.

Lanyon’s refusal of staying in the Victorian blindness shows Dr. Jekyll’s superego

Lanyon’s refusal of staying in the Victorian blindness shows Dr. Jekyll’s superego. Lanyon is Jekyll’s good and trustworthy friend for multiple reasons, one of them is, he always there when Jekyll needs help. Jekyll pleads for Lanyon to come to his aid in a letter. The letter reads, “There was never a day when, if you had said to me, “Jekyll, my life, my honor, my reason, depend upon you,’ I would not have sacrificed hand to help you” (Stevenson 63). Jekyll is exposing that Lanyon is the only better friend he has, and only he knows about his selfishness and secrets. Jekyll trusts and reveals himself in front of Lanyon because he is a practical man, and, he is also loyal to his friends. Jekyll is admitting taking advantage of their friendship, and he is pleading for Lanyon’s help. Jekyll does not want to keep his secret hidden from his only true friend. Saposnik explains the relationship between Lanyon and Jekyll. He explains, “While Utterson and Enfield complement each other’s limitations, Lanyon and Jekyll reveal one another’s emptiness” (Saposnik 720). Jekyll feels empty because he is hiding his secrets from everyone he knows. He desires to express his truth to Lanyon because of his emptiness. Lanyon and Jekyll’s friendship displays how honesty can remove a person in a blind society. Lanyon is the only one who knows and understands Jekyll’s strange cases. When Utterson questions him about Jekyll, Lanyon dismisses all inquiries about him. Utterson understands, “…in view of Lanyon’s manner and words, there must lie for it some deeper ground, A week afterward Dr. Lanyon took to his bed, and in something less than a fortnight he was dead” (Stevenson 41). Utterson is right about there being a deeper ground to Lanyon’s words. Lanyon knows Jekyll’s situation, but he forbids all the question, and says, does not truly mean he wants no part of Jekyll’s case. Lanyon is expressing he chooses not to reveal Jekyll’s secrets to a society who is blind to their malevolence. Lanyon understands that this Victorian society is willfully staying blind because for them reputation and honor are far better than honesty and loyalty. By this, he willfully refuses to partake in blindness and forcing blind eyes to see. Saposnik explains the honesty of Lanyon’s character. He claims, “If Lanyon is afraid to admit vital truths about himself, Jekyll fears the same truths once he discovers them” (Saposnik 721). Lanyon is not afraid to reveal truths about himself, but he will not open to blind eyes. Lanyon and Jekyll are similar because they both have truths about themselves that only each other understand. The only difference is, Lanyon refuses to stay blind of other’s truths, while Jekyll refuses to open about his truth nor see other’s truths. Lanyon is a true friend to Jekyll because he is open to see his secrets despise reputation. Along with this, he refuses to open secrets to those who will not understand nor who are truly interested in the well-being of Jekyll.

Dr. Jekyll decides the fate of Mr. Hyde after he murders Carew

Dr. Jekyll decides the fate of Mr. Hyde after he murders Carew. Hyde is compared to an ape after his gruesome murder of Sir Danvers Carew. This act of Edward Hyde makes him a prime criminal in the town. Because they are one, Jekyll, wanting to save Hyde, isolates himself in his home. When Utterson and Enfield are walking past his house, they see him and make small conversation with Jekyll. Jekyll is considering Utterson and Enfield coming into his house to him, “But the words were hardly uttered before the smile was struck out of his face and succeeded by an expression of such abject terror and despair…” (Stevenson 45). When Jekyll considers letting their friends into his home, he begins to transform into Hyde. His expression of terror and despair is showing how empty and lonely he feels. Jekyll isolates himself from the town because he must control Hyde from being seen. Hyde is a criminal, while Jekyll is a respected doctor, they are one. If society finds out his secret, his reputation is ruined. Benjamin O’Dell explains the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde are the character crisis. He explains, “For at this moment Hyde himself becomes an image – a synthetic projection that defines the individual even as it lacks the emotional and biological complexities necessary to ensure an organic, spontaneous sense of self” (O’Dell 515). Hyde reveals through the murder of Carew how evil and malevolent he is and can be. Edward Hyde chooses not to hide any of his malevolence, contrary to Jekyll does. Hyde is Jekyll’s desires and malevolence exposed to society without revealing his identity. Jekyll tries to control Hyde to cover some of the doctors’ malevolent desires. By controlling Hyde and isolating himself, Jekyll suffers. Stevenson argues, “If I am the chief of sinners, I am the chief of suffers also” (Stevenson 41). Jekyll knows of his malevolence and believes he is worst of all sinners. He accepts the suffers that come from his sins. Dr. Jekyll is very much aware of his suffering and he accepts his suffrage. Because of his awareness, he understands the pain that comes from keeping your sins from others. Jekyll understands both the danger of Hyde and himself. When he accepts his suffering, he is accepting his fate. At that moment, he is choosing to suicide because it is his only last chance to control Hyde. Victorian society explains Jekyll’s decision of death. O’Dell expresses, “By situating the Victorian gentleman at the point at which exclusionary identifies must defend themselves in the public realm and at which the city composes itself around the acceptance and rejection of Jekyll’s character…” (O’Dell 512). Jekyll must choose death in order to save his reputation and Hyde’s life. Jekyll decides suicide as his only option in order to save himself and Hyde. By killing both Dr. Jekyll and Edward Hyde, he can be free from his desire and suffer.

Hyde’s body is found as a demonstration of freedom

Hyde’s body is found as a demonstration of freedom. Jekyll and Hyde are wholly each other, both good and evil. However, they are depicted as different because of their appearances. When Jekyll becomes Hyde, he is free to do all that he desires without anyone knowing his identity. Jekyll expresses, “I have observed that when I wore the semblance of Edward Hyde, none could come near to me at first without a visible misgiving of the flesh” (Stevenson 78). Jekyll uses Hyde to hide his desires and malevolence from society. Society knows Dr. Jekyll as a respectable Victorian man, while Hyde is a disturbing, indescribable monster. For Hyde to be indescribable, it gives Jekyll more reason to transform into Hyde whenever he desires to be free. Dr. Jekyll uses Hyde to separate his good from his evil, but the two are not separated. Hyde is described to be wholly evil, which would make Jekyll wholly good. But Jekyll is wholly Hyde, and Hyde is wholly Jekyll. Therefore, Jekyll is wholly evil just as Hyde is wholly good because they are one. Erica McCrystal expands upon this statement of good and evil. She explains, “If good and evil are polarized oppositions, they are no longer present in the body of one man” (McCrystal 234). McCrystal is believing either Jekyll is wholly evil, and Hyde is wholly good, or Jekyll/Hyde does not exist. If you remove one aspect from Jekyll, you also remove it from Hyde. So, if Hyde is evil removed from Jekyll, Jekyll is well removed from Hyde. Through that, neither of them exists.  Jekyll decides that suicide is the only way for him to truly be free from his suffering. The display of Hyde reveals Jekyll’s freedom of his secrets. Jekyll cannot hide his identity after death. McCrystal explains how the body of Hyde is showing Jekyll revealing the rejection society is blind of. She claims, “Jekyll rationalizes Hyde’s social rejection by suggesting that he is the embodiment of one aspect of mankind” (McCrystal 238). Although Jekyll justifies Hyde’s malevolence because of rejection, he chooses to murder himself to be free from it. The Victorian society would have not accepted Hyde, Jekyll’s identity, which he would have suffered from if he chooses to live. Hyde’s body is a display of being free from rejection and secrets about Jekyll’s identity.

Edward Hyde exemplifies Dr. Jekyll’s inherently malevolent nature

Edward Hyde exemplifies Dr. Jekyll’s inherently malevolent nature and he is a result of Dr. Jekyll’s attempt to escape his social and sexual repressions. Dr. Jekyll favors Hyde more because he wholly knows him, his thoughts, and his motives. Utterson walks a fine line between loyalty and honor due to the risk of his reputation. Lanyon understands that this Victorian society is willfully staying blind because for them reputation and honor are better than honesty and loyalty. Dr. Jekyll decides suicide is the only way he can truly save and control Edward Hyde. Jekyll exposes that he is wholly evil just as Hyde is wholly good because they are one when Hyde is seen dead in Jekyll’s room. Stevenson’s The Strange Case Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a display of when society remains blind to their ways. No one person is wholly good nor wholly evil. Both exist in every individual because it is what makes one human. Jekyll self-destroys himself to be free from the rejection of his own emotions and societies opinions. Jekyll correct in his belief if freedom when one indulges in their desires, but his measures taken were extreme.

Works Cited

Comitni, Patricia. “The Strange Case of Addiction in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Victorian Review, Vol.38, No. 1 (Spring 2012), pp.113-131. The Johns Hopkins University Press, http://www.JSTOR.org/stable/23646852. 

McCrystal, Erica. “Hyde the Hero: Changing the Role of the Modern-Day Monster”.  University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 87, No. 1, Winter 2018, pp. 234-248.  University of Toronto Press, http://muse.jhu.edu/article/689100.                                                             

O’Dell, Benjamin D. “Character Crisis: Hegemonic Negotiations in Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” Victorian Literature and Culture, Vol. 40, 2012, pp. 509-521. Cambridge University Press, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41819955.

Saposnik, Irving S. “The Anatomy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” Studies in English Literature, Vol. 11, No.4, pp. 1500-1900, Nineteenth Century(Autumn 1971), pp. 715-731, Rice University,  http://www.jstor.org/stable/449833.                                                  

Stevenson, Robert L. “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Planet eBook, pp. 1-95, 1886,  https://www.planetebook.com/free-ebooks/the-strange-case-of-dr-jekyll.pdf.               

Wright, Daniel L. ” The Prisonhouse of My Disposition”: A Study of the Psychology of Addiction in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, Studies in the Novel, Vol. 26, No. 3, Fall 1994, pp. 254-267.  The Johns Hopkins University Press,  http://www.jstor.org/stable/20831878.