Comparing Anxiety And Drug Use In Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde And The Sign Of The Four

1576 words - 6 pages

Anxiety and Drug Use in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Sign of the Four

The life experiences and writings of the Victorians are peppered with anxiety.  External influences such as sweeping change or fear of change can produce unease, as seen in the their anxious attitude toward Darwinism and colonialization, which greatly influenced the political, spiritual, and psychological landscape of nineteenth century England.  However, for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll, anxiety springs from an internal source: the human mind and its many urges.  For Jekyll, the anxiety is fueled by a desire to set free his evil urges; for Holmes, the catalyst is his proclaimed "boredom" with everyday life.  Jekyll and Holmes struggle with their separate anxieties and reach similar solutions.  Both the doctor and the detective choose a drug to alleviate their anxiety.  The unsuccessful outcomes that these chosen drugs produce speaks to the Victorian notion that anxiety could not be conquered.  The people who lived and died under Queen Victoria not only dealt with anxiety in their own lives, but also fortified their literature with it.  Doyle's The Sign of Four and Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde explore two distinct anxieties and the consequences of using drugs to alleviate them.

For both Holmes and Jekyll, an internal anxiety plagues their actions and thoughts.  An aversion to "boredom" troubles Holmes, while Jekyll struggles to come to terms with "man's dual nature" (Stevenson, 42).  Holmes defends his drug use by declaring:

My mind... rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants (Doyle, 136).

Holmes cites boredom as the cause of his drug use, but the problem really seems to be an anxiety about having to assert his intellectual dominance over others.  Further, his anxiety also stems from an internal inability to create intellectually stimulating situations for himself. 

Jekyll's anxiety is also internal but more psychological in nature.  The doctor comes from an established family and thus must conceal his bad qualities.  He perceives the duality of man within himself, both good and bad, but as a member of society's elite, Jekyll has no room in his life for immoral or socially unacceptable behaviors and urges.  As he realizes that "man is not truly one, but truly two," (Stevenson, 43) Jekyll's anxiety stems from an internal inability to create a consciousness that can accommodate his urges.  It is interesting that both the well-educated Holmes and Jekyll, one being an intellectual elitist, the other a social elitist, would turn to the dangerous world of drugs to ease their anxieties.  But desperation often forces man to make unsound decisions.  Jekyll sees drugs as an antidote for guilt; Holmes, as an antidote...

Find Another Essay On Comparing Anxiety and Drug Use in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Sign of the Four

Stevenson's Use of Literary Techniques in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

974 words - 4 pages Stevenson's Use of Literary Techniques in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde In his novella "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", Robert Louis Stevenson explores the dual nature of Victorian man, and his link with an age of hypocrisy. Whilst writing the story he obviously wanted to show the people of the time what happened behind closed doors. In Jekyll's suicide note he makes the following observation " I have observed that when I wore

Stevenson's Use of the Concept of Duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

1462 words - 6 pages Stevenson's Use of the Concept of Duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written during the 19th century by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was written during a time where Victorian society had a lot of strong moral values. These values were very strict and controlled every aspect of the Victorian lifestyle. Aggression and fighting was looked down on and arguments were much preferred to be settled

Comparing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

1497 words - 6 pages The disparity between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is also evidenced in their actions which underscore the duality of good and evil. Hyde is introduced in an altercation in alley when he collides with a little girl. Rather than expressing remorse, he “trampled calmly over the child’s body and left her screaming on the ground.” (Stevenson, 7) He puts the incident to rest by buying the family off but not without raising suspicion. There is a sense of

Stevenson's Use of Literary Techniques in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

3642 words - 15 pages Stevenson's Use of Literary Techniques in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tells of how a scientist abuses his knowledge so that he can become another being but the double he becomes is one that cannot be directly blamed for his crimes and actions. Throughout the story Stevenson uses many different literary techniques to convey how the characters feel. These

The Real Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

1438 words - 6 pages Amber KirschnerENG 107-01Paper #1 (4 pgs.)9/22/14The Real Jekyll vs The Real HydeIn the novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson demonstrates the conflicting sides of the human psyche through a fantasy that could very much be compared to what actually happens in many people in real life. Jekyll and Hyde are merely a metaphor to the way outside people perceive a generally good person, the way a person has good and evil sides and

The Titles of Dr. Jekyll in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

780 words - 3 pages The Titles of Dr. Jekyll in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde In the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll held a number of titles, including M.D., D.C.L., LL.D., and F.R.S. These titles indicate that Dr Jekyll was a well educated in man in both medicine and law. The first title, M.D., stands for doctor of medicine. In the mid 1800's (about the time Jekyll would have been educated), medical students

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

573 words - 2 pages English Questions on The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 1. What is the main plot of the book The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a book based on a man with two different personality’s and two physical appearances, his own as well as a strange man who goes by the name of Mr Hyde a mysterious dark individual who lurks in the dark and pounces once spotting his prey weak an vulnerable. The character of Mr Hyde was created

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Essay

866 words - 4 pages helping to solve a problem in this novel, though it is not identified whose problem he will try to solve. This also foreshadows a problem in the book; Utterson leads the reader to believe that a horrid situation will arise between Jekyll and Hyde. Mr. Hyde is driven purely by the temptations of evil; the urges that Dr. Jekyll is unable to act on. This temptation causes Mr. Hyde to murder Sir Carew with the walking stick. The walking stick is

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

1208 words - 5 pages Untitled The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde By Emily Doyle "Man is not truly one, but truly two." Perhaps this is the most significant quote in the novel `The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", as it reflects the central theme of the novel by not only speculating the duality of humankind, but setting the framework for critical analysis and further exploration of the properties of this duality and the

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

1221 words - 5 pages evidently illuminates the sexist society of the Victorian period through the representation of the female characters. In conclusion, through Stevenson’s use of language techniques in ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ it enhances that texts are in fact a reflection of their context. Stevenson illustrates how the sharp division of class, conflict between science and religion and the sexist society prevalent in the Victorian era profoundly affected Victorians during that time and are integrated into his novella through the characters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Readers can deduce that context can greatly influence the ideas and topics an author writes about.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

1477 words - 6 pages James Johnston The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde The Duality of Human Nature Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde centers upon a conception of humanity as dual in nature, although the theme does not emerge fully until the last chapter, when the complete story of the Jekyll-Hyde relationship is revealed. Therefore, we confront the theory of a dual human nature explicitly only after having witnessed all of the events of the novel

Similar Essays

Comparing Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde And The Sign Of Four

2131 words - 9 pages order began to be questioned.  So dramatic was the change in thought that Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (published in 1883) and Doyle's The Sign of Four (published in 1890) can be used to display this breaking away from strict social and moral standards.  Stevenson's character Mr. Utterson can be used to personify the earnest social morality that the Victorian age is known for, while Doyle's protagonist Sherlock Holmes

Use Of Imagination In Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, Study In Scarlet And Sign Of The Four

1527 words - 6 pages    While reading Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet and Sign of the Four, I found myself impatiently competing against Mr. Utterson and Sherlock Holmes to find out the solutions to the crimes.  Stevenson and Doyle cleverly use the imagination of their protagonists to display through fictional literature the concern late Victorians felt about the rise of a new

The Similarities Of Characters In Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

719 words - 3 pages way Mr Hyde is described as breaking out in ‘a great flame of anger’ is interesting, fire is wild and uncontrollable, perhaps a little like Mr Hyde himself). Mr Hyde is also described as almost ‘animalistic’ (he is described as attacking Mr Carew with ‘ape-like fury’) which is curious. Another factor which highlights the difference between Mr Hyde and the other main male characters is his background. Mr Utterson, Dr Jekyll, Dr Lanyon

Stevenson's Use Of Mysteries In "Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde"

2029 words - 8 pages How does Stevenson maintain the reader’s interest in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Stevenson keeps the readers interested by using the supernatural and horror side of things to make it scary because when the story first came out they weren’t used to scary stories. He also uses mysteries to keep the readers wondering, guessing and wanting to know more. He includes moral messages in the story to keep people/the readers questioning themselves wondering