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The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

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  • Category: Jekyll

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In the story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde science brought out the darker side of human nature and dominated over all compassion. Dr. Jekyll uses a scientific potion which Jekyll has created in order to transform himself into an another person in order to experience an alternate life. However, later on in the story as Jekyll gets more and more dependent on the potion it becomes harder for him to remain as the “good” Dr. Jekyll and the “evil” side of Mr. Hyde starts to take him over. After Hyde the evil side starts to dominate the good side Jekyll finds that he needs the potion to stay as Jekyll and when he runs out he kills himself in order to protect people from the terror of Hyde.

Dr. Jekyll lived a life of science and seclusion he hardly left his lab and was always expiramenting with ways to improve life or understand traits such as bad and good. Eventually one day when he was expiramenting with different chemicals he found a way to transform himself into a completely different identity which he gave the name Mr. Hyde. Hyde was everything Jekyll was not yet desired to be and while in this alternate identity Jekyll felt free. Until the end of the story, the two personas seem completely different, the respectable doctor and the hideous, depraved Hyde are almost opposite in appearance and personality. Stevenson uses to make his point: that every human being contains two sides within him or her, an alternate ego that hides behind their polite side. To fully understand Jekyll and Hyde one must know that they are the same person just different sides. Alone neither Jekyll or Hyde would be an interesting character it is the relationship of the two of them together that makes the story interesting to the reader.

Despite the constant struggle between Jekyll and Hyde, they are the same person and the struggle is just an exagerated example of the choice of good or bad which all people deal with in their life. While Jekyll seems to be moral and good and the majority of the two identities at first, Jekyll never is as good as his alternate side Hyde is evil. Even though Jekyll takes on the expirament with the intent of completely separating his good side from his evil side. Jekyll only ever succeeds in seperating his darker side, freeing it completely from the side of good, Jekyll however is never able to free himself of the side of evil within him.

The partial success of Jekyll’s experiments is understood through further analysis of the story. Jekyll himself analyzes the one-sided results of his transformations and links them to his state of mind when first taking the potion. In the story Jekyll notes that he was motivated by dark urges for example, ambition and pride when Jekyll first drank the liquid and that these allowed for the emergence of his darker side. It is implied that if however the potion had been consumed in a more pure state of mind Jekyll believed the kinder side would have emerged. Jekyll however is not to blame for all of his actions because once released, Hyde gradually comes to dominate over the two. Eventually Jekyll ends up taking the form of Hyde more than his own body.

By the end of the novel it is clear that there is only a faint trace left of what used to be Jekyll and Hyde has clearly taken over. Once Hyde is released the darker side seems to have more strength than Jekyll had expected in the beginning. The fact that it was Hyde who emerged from Jekyll rather than a more angelic side is most likely linked to more than just Jekyll’s state of mind upon drinking the potion. Jekyll’s drinking of the potion seems almost to have given Hyde the opportunity to assert himself over Jekyll as if Hyde was really inside the whole time.

The dominance of Hyde as the superior side of the two may imply that darker side of human nature is not far beneath the surface. The answer to weather or not there is a force great enough to suppress the Hyde-like side of human nature in everyone is unclear. Hyde is described in the story as resembling a “troglodyte,” or a caveman. (Stevenson) This raises the idea that perhaps Hyde is actually the original nature of man, which has been held down by civilization, conscience, and society. So, maybe man doesn’t have two sides just one primitive one that remains just bellow the surface of everyone. The story seems to show Stevenson’s belief that once these bonds are broken, it is impossible to reestablish them and gain control. Stevenson suggests that the dark, instinctual side of man remains strong enough to devour anyone who proves foolish enough to unleash it such as Jekyll.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde focuses mainly on the idea of humanity being dual natured, this theme however doesn’t fully show until the end of the story, when the complete relationship between Jekyll and Hyde is revealed; including Hyde’s crimes and his ultimate eclipsing of Jekyll. By not revealing the theme of human nature until the end of the novel Stevenson forces the reader to think about the properties of this relationship and to consider each of the events and come up with their own theories in order to understand the theme.

Jekyll states that, “man is not truly one, but truly two,” and Jekyll thinks of the soul as the battleground for an “angel” and a “fiend,” each struggling for control. (Stevenson) His potion however, which was supposed to individually separate each element, only succeeds in bringing the dark side into being. Hyde is brought forth, there is however no angelic counterpart. Once set loose, Hyde slowly begins to takes over, until Jekyll is no longer in control of hmself and Hyde becomes the dominant of the two boddies.

According to the comments made by overwhelmed observers, Hyde appears disgustingly ugly and deformed, shrunken, and hairy. His physical ugliness and deformity symbolizes his lack of morals and ethics. The connection between such ugliness and Hyde’s wickedness might have been seen as more than symbolic especially for the audience of Stevenson’s time. Most people during this time believed that one could identify a criminal by physical appearance alone.

In addition Stevenson portrays Hyde with a small stature which can be interpreted as the fact that, as Jekyll’s dark side, Hyde has been hidden form the world, prevented from growing and thriving. Hyde’s hairiness may indicate that Hyde is not so much a portrayal of Jekyll’s evil side as the body of Jekyll’s instincts, or his animalistic center beneath Jekyll’s clean exterior. On the other hand Hyde is not only depicted as Jekyll’s animalistic side.

Hyde is more than just an animal. For example the reader would not expect Hyde to take such delight in crime if Hyde were purely animal. Throughout the story Hyde commits violent acts against innocent people for no reason except what the reader perceives as the joy of it something that would not fit the character of an animal. Hyde is shown as deliberately immoral and happy to be that way. Hyde knows the law and experiences joy for breaking it. Hyde seems strangely at home in the urban landscape which is also uncharacteristic of animals. Not only does this show how Hyde is not plainly an animal, but it also shows that society has a darker side to it because Hyde is so comfortable in the urban setting.

In order to completely understand all of the ideas portrayed in the novel of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the reader must understand the time period in which Stevenson is writing. Stevenson describes life in London during the 1880s as “the latter half of the Victorian period.”(The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) During this time society was divided into two social classes there was only a very rich and a very poor class with hardley anyone in between. Generally, people were uncomfortable and often not wanted in parts of town that people of other social groups lived in, because of this the people of London usually stayed within their own neighborhoods. Not only do people of this time believe that you can tell the nature of a person based on their looks alone, but Stevenson also suggests that they believe in evil inside of all humans and that if they are not careful that side will emerge and take over complete control of the individual.

Throughout the story Dr. Jekyll faces a very obvious physical conflict between Himself and Mr. Hyde. The true conflict however that Stevenson wants the reader to see is how once Jekyll releases his evil side, once he gets a taste of being bad, how he enjoys it and at first doesn’t want to return to being Jekyll. What stevenson is trying to say here is that once someone acts against their morals once, what is stopping them from doing it again? In the end most readers will at first probably find Jekyll as weak because hyde is able to conquer him so easily. However Jekyll is still able to hold onto a little bit of control and kill himself, as hyde, in order to protect society from the evil of his dark side.

In the story science brought out the darker side of human nature and ended up dominating over all compassion. Overall, while Stevenson makes it clear that human nature consists of two sides it is left open to the reader to interpret what those sides are. One may believe they are of evil and virtue. However another reader may interpret it as one’s inner animal and the facade that civilization has imposed. Stevenson ends the novel by leaving the reader to think for themselves and have their own opinions on the conflicts within the story.

Work Cited

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1990. Print.

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Glencoe. Web. .


“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Web. .

Kiely, Robert. “Robert Louis Stevenson.” Gale Database. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Web. .

McMahon, Thomas. Authors & Artists for Young Adults (Authors and Artists for Young Adults). Belmont: Thomson Gale, 1998. Print.

“Robert Louis Stevenson.” Twayne’s Authors Series. Web. .

“Stevenson, Robert Louis.” Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Web.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1990. Print.

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Glencoe. Web. .

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