Table of contents
2) Dr. Jekyll vs. Mr. Hyde
3) Dr. Jekyll´s motivation
4) Analysis of the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
In the 19th century published cases of both dual and multiple personalities were accumulated, for instance that of Mary Reynolds, who could have been a model for Robert Louis Stevenson´s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
In parallel to these publications a new interest in supernaturalism, excitement and drama developed. Gothicism as well as duality are themes which Stevenson had long been trying to write about and emerge in lots of his other writings, such as Olalla, The Body Snatcher and The Dynamiter. But the psychic conflict of doubles found its most “explicit treatment” in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), which also “endures as a landmark in the evolution of psychological fiction”. Even the names of ´Jekyll´ and his alternating personality ´Hyde´ have become a kind of allegory for “any homicidal wolf in sheep´s clothing”, not only for those who have read their story but also for those who have not.
This widely-known allegory, which even found its way in the song “Alles aus Liebe” of the German band “Die Toten Hosen”, aroused my interest in analysing the story and their main character(s). Unfortunately, in various film or theatre versions of Stevenson´s most popular work The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the directors have tended to change the story´s content and interpretation. Thus, it can be regarded as a “victim of its own success”.
In the following paper I would like to attend to the original version of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because the originals are presumed to be the best ones.
The Doppelgänger Jekyll/Hyde is definitely the most striking and interesting protagonist, whose psyche I shall attempt to analyse. Firstly, I would like to draw a comparison between the alternating personalities regarding their looks and behaviour, whereas the different narrative voices enable us to get information from Jekyll as well as some other characters. Secondly, I intend to look back in his past and would like to ask for Dr. Jekyll´s motivation for performing such dangerous experiments. Finally, the development of the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the first experiment to their suicide will complete my dissection and enable certain conclusions.
2) Dr. Jekyll vs. Mr. Hyde
Stevenson attempts to express the theme of the duality of man by applying the classic Doppelgänger technique for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A typical feature of this technique is that split personalities, living two “separate” lives with their alternating identities, always end in suicides.
As mentioned in the introduction Stevenson´s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not written from just one point of view but is characterized by the individual narratives of Enfield, Lanyon and Jekyll. The chosen order of the narrative voices “add[s] increasing rhetorical and psychological dimension to the events they describe”. It is beyond question that the most gripping and frightening narration is that of Jekyll, in which he describes his attitude and relationship towards his alter ego. Nevertheless, the previous chapters provide us with numerous other speculations, reactions and opinions of Hyde and construct him as a mysterious character for the reader. By this approach to narration the author also succeeds in creating suspense for the initial reader, who does not find out about Dr. Jekyll´s two identities until the story almost comes to an end.
In the following I intend to have a closer look at the Doppelgänger Jekyll/Hyde whereas I embrace Jekyll´s statement as well as the statements of some other characters, especially that of Enfield and Utterson.
Richard Enfield, Utterson´s walking companion, firstly responds to Edward Hyde by describing his crime of knocking down and trampling the little girl. At first glance bitter hatred for Hyde flares up inside Enfield. “There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why” (p 11). Enfield is only able to describe Hyde to Utterson as an extra-ordinary Satan-like looking man (p 8, 12), whose look frightens him in a way that he starts to sweat (p 7). Mr. Hyde, being the legitimate heir of Dr. Jekyll, arouses Utterson´s suspicion and frightens him because of a possible threat to Jekyll´s reputation. Neither Utterson nor Dr. Lanyon, the two oldest friends of Jekyll, has ever heard of Mr. Hyde before. This encourages Utterson in becoming “Mr. Seek” (p 19) and attempting to solve the mystery.
Meeting the “pale and dwarfish” (p 21) Mr. Hyde for the first time causes a similar reaction in Enfield as in Utterson. He not only feels a “hitherto unknown disgust, loathing and fear (p 22) but also “a nausea and distaste of life” (p 23). Furthermore, Hyde is described as “hardly human” (p 22) and is again associated with Satan.
Within a short time the reader gets to know about Hyde´s second and this time more gruesome crime, the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. Hyde mangles Carew with an “ape-like fury” (p 30). Besides Hyde´s unusual looks and behaviour we gain more strange information about him, for instance from his servants. The servant-maid tells us that “his habits [are] very irregular, and he [is] often absent” (p 34). Above all, there is not an existing photograph of him and descriptions of him differ enormously. Even his family and relatives “[can] nowhere be traced” (p 36). Hyde has also obtained full liberty about Jekyll´s house and his servants got order to obey him (p 24), this makes him an even more powerful character.
Jekyll´s statement provides us an insight into the attitude towards his other personality which is described as “smaller, slighter and younger than Henry Jekyll” (p 87). His small stature may represent the consequence of having been repressed for years. But this repression of the dark side may also give him that superior power and vigor. Additionally, he emphasizes the evil side of Mr. Hyde, which caused the “imprint of deformity and decay” (p 87). Even Jekyll cannot recognize anything human in Mr. Hyde, “that child of Hell” in whom “nothing lived but fear and hatred” (p 103). Various descriptions such as “something troglodytic” (p 22), “ape-like fury” (p 30) and a “corded and hairy” hand (p 101) also underline his “inhumanity” and depict him more as an animal. The reader gets a first hint that Hyde may be Jekyll´s alter ego when Utterson´s clerk compares their hands, which are nearly identical (p 42).
Until the end of the story, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde don´t seem alike at all. Jekyll is portrayed as a “large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty” (p 26) and a well-liked, respectable doctor (p 89). The suspicious Utterson cannot imagine that Jekyll voluntarily messes around with the disgust-arousing Hyde and thinks that Jekyll must be blackmailed. This is Utterson´s only plausible explanation why Jekyll stands up for Mr. Hyde and wants Utterson to promise that he get the rights for Hyde.
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