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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a novella written by the Scottish writer-Robert Louis Stevenson. It made its place alongside other controversy novels of 20th century such as Dracula or Frankenstein. The story follows Mr. Utterson-a lawyer and a friend of Dr. Jekyll, through a horrifying and mysterious story. The main theme of the novella is how people having two opposite characteristics: the good and the evil, the realistic and the spiritual, the self-controlling and the frustrating. It also builds a picture of England under the shadow of Queen Victoria and its changing. A combination of Gothic horror, science-fiction, detective and adventure, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is fascinated from the very first page.
Dr. Jekyll, a doctor, a member of the British upper class, whose background is excellent. He was born to a large fortune, an educated man who commands the respect of all. He grew up with "an imperious desire to keep his head high" before the public, thus he had to hide his irregularities with a "morbid sense of a shame". Very early, Jekyll saw the need to hide his shameful part of himself. Also very early, he realized a "profound duplicity of life", and man's dual nature. From his studying and experiencing, he came to a conclusion that "man is not truly one, but truly two". As a scientist, Jekyll believed that it is necessity to separate the two identities, to prove his theory and to find the answers for his own questions about the polar twins that exists in every man, and how were they dissociated. Although he knew that it would risk death, his temptation of discovering was so strong that he decided to make a potion which he believed, would separate him from his "polar twin", and took the potion.
The potion did not kill him but turns him into another person, his evil side of nature - Edward Hyde. Hyde was described to be "less robust and less educated" than Jekyll, but was smaller, slighter and younger and above all, he was a pure evil. And the drug was a "gate" which Jekyll used to turn to Hyde, and from Hyde back to be Jekyll. Jekyll, who grew up and lived as a member of the upper class, and under the Victorian society, he had to stay away from "vileness, vulgarity and villainy" matters which a dignified and respectable scientist would not be associated with, and it started to bore him. But in the shape of Hyde, Jekyll could now again enjoy the activities that he pursued when he was young, while the respectable doctor remained safely from detection. That was the first slip that he made - let himself being tempted. But Jekyll soon felt wonder and disgusted at what Hyde had done, for which he described to be "inherently villainous", and his "vicarious depravity". And one day, Jekyll woke up, not where he seemed to be, in his house in London, but in Hyde's little room in Soho, in the body of Hyde. He had gone to sleep Henry Jekyll, but awoke Edward Hyde. That is when the feeling of terror and horror came to him - he started to lose his control over Edward Hyde and his "original and better self". But Jekyll did not want to give up Hyde because of his enjoyment to the adventures that he had done in the shape of Hyde. Jekyll was a like baby who indulged and was pampered by the activities performed by his double, even though he knew that he might turn himself entirely to be "despised and friendless". He just treated Hyde as his "errant son" who must be punished and made the choice that he would keep his good side, but with "some unconscious reservation" - not giving up the house in Soho nor destroying Hyde's clothes. He remained to be Jekyll for two months, but after that, he was "tortured with throes and longings" as "Hyde struggling after freedom". The extreme enjoyment that he had been receiving as Hyde is ultimate, which led to Jekyll taking the transforming draught again. Jekyll's enjoyment allowed Hyde to grow into stature and much stronger, he "came out roaring" after being repressed for long, and much worse, more "devil". He now had to contend with his "lust of evil", "damned horrors of the evenings", "the ugly face of my iniquity" stared into his soul. However, Hyde was not denied because above all, Jekyll's temptation was so strong that he still desired Hyde's presence and his activities. That is why Jekyll always tried to protect his secret and did not tell or let anybody know about it. But he also could not let Hyde to "peep out an instant" when the murder case was overlooked or "the hands of all men would be raised to take and slay him". Hyde started to take over while the good side Jekyll was weakened. That is when Jekyll was sitting in Regent's Park in a "fine, clear January day", he felt the symptoms of the transformation without the aid of any chemicals. Hyde appeared because of Jekyll, who had been trying to prevent him, now desired to have him appear again. It was all about Jekyll's emotional feelings that open the "gate" which he had been trying to close, and freed the devil. The connection between Hyde and Jekyll became so closely that we can not determine the two. The transformation had to be concealed and Hyde/Jekyll needed to get the drug in the laboratory. But it was dangerous to get the drug in Hyde's shape. They made a plan, using Poole and Dr. Lanyon, to get the drug and also, to get their, or more correctly, Jekyll's revenge on Lanyon. Although being a good friend with Hyde, Dr. Lanyon had always ridiculed Jekyll and his theory of the existence of evil inside man. After this point, Jekyll and Hyde developed a strange relationship. They hated each other. Jekyll hated Hyde because of his pure evil and his power over him. He also had the feeling of horror that Hyde would probably do more horrible things, and that is when he thought of a way that can stop Hyde - committing suicide. Of course Hyde did not want to be destroyed so during the act of Jekyll's dying after taking the poison, Hyde regained his power so that when Utterson and Poole broke the laboratory's door, they found the dead body not of Jekyll, but of Hyde. This was also the moment when Hyde's power was the strongest, he had the extreme power over Jekyll.
Clearly, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde gave the idea of man's duality nature. In Jekyll's view, every soul contains two elements - the good and the evil, and one is dominant. Thus, it does not mean that a good man never has an evil thought or behavior. Jekyll's experiment, beside scientific matters, it was not what Jekyll expected it to be. He did not want his evil persona to gain control, but throughout the story, it proved that Jekyll's temptation was the condition for Hyde to develop stronger. This means that when people are tempted, that is when they let their evil persona to grow.
Stevenson, R.L. (1886) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Publisher: POCKET BOOK, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Name: T. Hung Pham
Assignment: Essay on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Due date: 21st, October 2010
Word count: 1, 234 words
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