Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, takes place in 1870’s England and centers on a man by the name of Dr. Henry Jekyll, who is a respectable doctor among his own community. In the beginning of the story, Mr. Utterson (who is the lawyer responsible for drafting Dr. Jekyll’s final will and testament) is walking with his friend, Mr. Enfield. As they are walking past this street, Enfield reminisces about a nighttime stroll that he took past this street, where he saw a small and disproportionate man attacking a young girl in the street. When caught, this mystery man by the name of Edward Hyde decided to make amends by giving the victim’s family a check worth one hundred pounds. The odd thing is that this check had Dr. Jekyll’s signature on it and was a genuine copy (Stevenson 4). This is the first glimpse that the reader has of the relationship between the respectable Dr. Jekyll and mysteriously grotesque Mr. Hyde (although people who are disgusted by him can never really figure out why).
As the reader realizes later in the text, Mr. Hyde is nothing more than a transformation of Dr. Jekyll through the use of a formula that the doctor had created himself in order to try and separate his good nature from his evil tendencies. This transformation allows Jekyll to carry out these evil urges in the form of this other part of him that is Edward Hyde. This is done to remove any blame that Jekyll could put on himself through the actions of Mr. Hyde (reasons which I later discuss). The obvious monster is the alter ego of the English doctor, Mr. Hyde, but it isn’t limited to only him.
As the text goes on, can a reader really look and say that Jekyll isn’t as much of an abomination as Hyde? Other than Jekyll being easier on the eyes than Hyde, I argue that both characters are monstrous. Hyde is such a monster due to his tendencies to give in to the most primitive of urges, such as when he attacks the little girl in the first chapter and kills Sir Danvers Carew for no real reason (this, coupled with his deplorable appearance makes it a relatively easy decision when it comes to calling him a monster). Jekyll, on the other hand, requires a little more thought when it comes to what actually makes him such a monster. Jekyll intends to free himself from guilt by indulging in his more evil desires in the form of Hyde (when Jekyll consumes the medicine). However, Henry Jekyll is monstrous because he is fully aware of the implication of Hyde being free, such as being able to hurt the people around him. Nonetheless. Dr. Jekyll still continued to do so because his urge to indulge in his evil desires supersedes his concern of hurting innocent people. Through the analysis of this text, it can be seen how things such as humans crossing the boundaries of man are ever-present in this text. There are also concepts from Freud (i.e. the uncanny) are applicable to this piece of text as well.
In the beginning of this story, Dr. Jekyll can...