Commitment To A Profound Duplicity English Literature Essay

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a novel heavily influenced by Stevenson's interest on the duality of the human psyche. Throughout the novel, a sense of "good and evil" permeate, while still interplaying the theme of psychological addiction and duality. One may simplify this novel, regarding it as nothing more than the two burdens stated above; however, to look past its emphasis on the psychological pathology that grew with each dose of the drug would be an exercise in uselessness. An implication of this method of generality is that one may not grasp the true essence of this fable. Jekyll was not simply a man afflicted with chemical addiction; his pre-existing psychological detriments ultimately led to a worsening of his cognitive state and eventual suicide.

The first point I must address is Jekyll's apparent loss of self control throughout the novel. This loss of self control is indicative towards his first sign of denial. It began towards the conclusion of Jekyll's dinner party, while Utterson's comments became increasingly swayed towards the topic of Mr. Hyde. Jekyll, seemingly naïve, stated "the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde. I give you my hand upon that… (44)." Jekyll demonstrates that he is living in a world of illusion; like many modern-day substance abusers, he perpetuates a cycle of denial and self-loathing. Was Jekyll's cognitive impairment palpable before the invention of the drug?

"Stevenson's short novel does not reveal much to us of Jekyll's character history, but that Jekyll is a tormented man long before he becomes captive to his novel drug is evident from the doctor's own narrative; indeed, when we discover that Jekyll is but the public persona of a man who is much more and other--than he appears to be, we realize that it is the doctor's addiction that offers the means by which the character of Henry Jekyll is to be definitively understood, for Henry Jekyll, apart from whatever else he may be, is an addict (Wright)."

Wright's main argument stems from Jekyll's own 'narrative', with the text stating "Jekyll now with the most sensitive apprehensions, now with a greedy gusto, projected and shared in the pleasures of Hyde; but Hyde was indifferent to Jekyll (89)". Unearthing whether this was a hint towards previous psychopathology or bipolar behavior is unneeded; we can vividly see the path that Jekyll walked into the gallows of his own demise. The quote may also hint at Jekyll's life-long desire to be someone other than himself; in effect, this may be why Jekyll continued to take the drug.

Pointedly, one should not be too surprised when Jekyll finally succumbs to Hyde's superior physical and mental brute-force. Jekyll was obviously mistaken when he overlooked the sad verity of his state; once again, Jekyll recognizes the problem by stating "I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self, and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse (89)". Jekyll is aware of the problem, yet he is apparently unfazed, and does nothing to solve it. Therefore, "there is a sense in which Hyde, for all his monstrosity, is but an addiction like alcohol, nicotine, drugs (210 Oates)".Of course, such a question with no clear acknowledgement will be hard to answer; many writers, such as Stiles, took a different approach, stating "Stevenson explores the potentially heretical possibility that human beings are inherently double even in a healthy state."

However, Jekyll had stated

"I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both; and from an early date, even before the course of my scientific discoveries had begun to suggest the most naked possibility of such a miracle, I had learned to dwell with pleasure, as a beloved daydream, on the thought of the separation of these elements (82)."

Obviously, Jekyll had not been in a healthy mental state, so the proposed 'duality' of his nature may have simply been from a mental detriment. According to Jekyll, he and Hyde existed long before the creation of the drug; the drug was simply an outlet for Hyde to become tangible to the rest of the world. I want to clarify that the idea of human duality is still a great possibility - I simply believe that Jekyll's own mental afflictions did him in long before he started taking the drug.

Dr. Henry Jekyll, on the outside, was a handsome, fairly successful doctor from London that had a friendly persona and many friends. On the inside, however, Jekyll was a doctor whose life had been spent living in two separate worlds; when he drank the elixir, Edward Hyde manifested himself in Jekyll's flesh and bone. Why does it matter that Dr. Henry Jekyll had such a gargantuan problem? Learning to better understand psychopathology isn't simply a profession; delving into the minds of the afflicted allows us to gain much-needed perspective on the mentally deranged. This perspective eventually leads to treatments and eventual cures. Over time, Dr. Jekyll fell into a world of self-loathing and denial, which quickly led to isolation and suicide. Jekyll became trapped in a perpetuating mental prison; as he became increasingly isolated, connections with the outside world and his affiliates were cut. The ones who loved him were shut out of Jekyll's life, eventually shutting the door to his own.