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Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

1204 words - 5 pages

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde focuses on Henry Jekyll, a doctor who feels conflicted by his desire to follow the norms of his social era and his supposedly disgraceful urges. This results in Jekyll attempting to separate the shameful part of himself so that he may meet the standards of his stringent moral code. This endeavor to remove his base characteristics results in the manifestation of Mr. Edward Hyde, the representation of Jekyll’s contemptible nature. In the novella, Stevenson employs Utterson, Jekyll, and Hyde to depict man’s duality as well as the self-oppression of characteristics that were typically vilified during the 19th century.
Utterson, one of the major characters, lends his unique perspective and simultaneously acts as an example of man’s inner duality. In the description of Utterson’s character in the exposition of the novel, Stevenson employs diction that portrays him in an extremely reserved manner. Yet, through his “rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile,” and “cold” demeanor, Utterson is still perceived as “somehow lovable” (Stevenson 5). This simple juxtaposition of his personality and physical characteristics introduces the theme of man being divided into two distinct elements. This conflicting image of Utterson drastically develops as the audience discovers that “At friendly meetings, and when the wine was to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye; something indeed which never found its way into his talk” (Stevenson 5). In this passage, the text portrays Utterson as typically nonhuman, but his indulgence in piquant wines cajoles a hidden aspect of his personality into existence. Furthermore, Utterson “was austere with himself, drank gin when he was alone, to mortify a taste for vintages; and though he enjoyed the theatre, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years” (Stevenson 5). He belongs to the upper class in London, meaning that expensive wines and trips to the theater would amount to a pittance in comparison to his vast wealth. Despite this, Utterson still denies himself the extravagance he enjoys and attempts to curb his pleasure of wine through the consumption of gin, a harsh alcoholic beverage which quickly leads to inebriation. Utterson’s greatly contrasting personalities exhibit the true duality of man’s nature.
Henry Jekyll, M.D., D.C.L., L.L.D., F.R.S., functions in the novella as the protagonist. His fractured personality serves to illuminate the disturbingly chilling effects of repressing an aspect of oneself. In his personal account of transpired events, Jekyll reveals to the audience that shameful feelings plagued him throughout his childhood and so, like Utterson, denies himself of the unspecified pleasures he craves. Jekyll’s narrative depicts his character as remarkably virtuous and he appears to hold himself to a rigid moral code. Due to this, he regards his reprehensible urges with “almost a morbid sense of shame,”...

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