Jekyll Analysing Themes Of Social Morality Of Human Nature English Literature Essay


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The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is a Victorian horror novella written in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story is about an intelligent and respectable man, Dr Jekyll, who created a drug that transforms him into an evil creature that takes delight in breaking laws, committing crimes and injuring people whom he called Mr Hyde. Most of Stevenson's novels, including this one, had the same theme; the duality of human nature, although the theme does not emerge fully until the last chapter, when the complete extent of the Jekyll-Hyde relationship is revealed. Therefore, we confront the theory of a dual human nature only after having witnessed all of the events of the novel, including Hyde's crimes and his ultimate eclipsing of Jekyll. The text not only firmly places the duality of human nature as its central theme but forces us to ponder the properties of this duality and to consider each of the novel's episodes as we weigh various theories.

Perhaps the angel is permanently overcome by Jekyll's devil. Or perhaps Jekyll is mistaken: man is not "truly two" but is the primitive creature embodied in Hyde, brought under control by socialisation and laws. According to this theory, the concoction strips away the civilized shell, exposing man's primitive nature. Certainly, Stevenson does paint Hyde as animalistic-he is hairy and ugly; he responds instinctively rather than with reason; Utterson describes him as a "troglodyte," or primitive creature. This is also show in chapter eight when Mr Utterson is trying to get Poole to explain why he is afraid. Stevenson deliberately lets the question get asked repeatedly because it draws you in, making you want to read more just to find out Poole's answer. Poole doesn't answer the question; he just carries on talking "I've been afraid for about a week".

Yet if Hyde were just an animal, he would not take such delight in committing crimes. However, he seems to commit violent acts against people for no reason except for the enjoyment of it. He appears deliberately and happily immoral; he knows the moral law and enjoys the breaking of it.

Mr Hyde is seen only by a few but those who have seen him know of his evil looks. One night Mr Enfield sees this monster bump into a child but he didn't stop; he trampled over her like "some damned Juggernaut". He then described Mr Hyde as, "he gives a strong feeling of deformity". He could sense he was deformed but couldn't say how or where. People can't explain why they dislike him so much; it is almost like they can sense the evil.

The first detail about Dr. Jekyll is from his old friend Dr. Lanyon; he mentions the reasons why they don't see much of each other "Jekyll became too fanciful for me." and that Dr. Jekyll was interested in "Such unscientific balderdash". These comments would make the reader curious to know what Dr. Jekyll is up to. Later in the story when Dr. Jekyll makes his first appearance he is described to be "a large, well - made, smooth - faced man of fifty, … but every mark of capacity and kindness". To the reader he appears to be a kind man, the complete opposite from Mr Hyde.


Further on, when Dr. Jekyll wasn't changing into Mr Hyde, he started to act like his old self; he's described as "entertainer … busy … face seemed to open and brighten … at peace". This contrasts with his appearance when Hyde returns, when Enfield and Utterson notice that Dr. Jekyll has an "expression of such abject terror and despair". Dr. Jekyll, in his letter to Utterson explains why he created a new identity - because he wanted to enjoy the things in life that wouldn't be respectable for a man of Dr. Jekyll's calibre

Therefore the opening chapter does introduce the themes of social morality and the duality of human nature, however it is not until the last chapter that we are truly privy to these themes. Therefore, we confront the theory of a dual human nature only after having witnessed all of the events of the novel.

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