Repression Compared with Self-Indulgence in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, repression appears to be a common theme. Stevenson chose to incorporate this because it was a common Victorian belief. So what is Stevenson trying to say about repression by making Dr. Jekyll secretly self indulgent? Many people believe that Jekyll assumes the role of Hyde in order to carry out these indulgences that he otherwise could not. Also Jekyll chose to repress his urges because Victorian society frowned upon them. This idea is further elaborated on by Masao Miyoshi, in “Dr. Jekyll and the Emergence of Mr. Hyde”:
For it is a commonplace of our understanding of the period that the Victorian writer wanted above all to “stay in touch.” Comparing his situation with that of his immediate predecessors, he recognized that indulgence in a self-centered idealism was no longer viable in a society which ever more insistently urged total involvement in its occupations. The world was waiting to be improved upon, and solved, and everyone, poets, included had to busy themselves and “make up their minds on as many matters as possible.” (479)
I agree with this idea because there are many pieces of evidence in the novel. Although, from just reading the book, I do not know what Dr. Jekyll’s “secret pleasures” are, but all I know is that he needs to go to the extent of becoming a different person to fulfill his urges. Stevenson gives the reader a hint on what Jekyll is hiding by stating, “The pleasures which I have made .haste to seek in my disguise were, as I have said, undignified” (135). Here Jekyll feels he must repress his desires, even though they really are not as scandalous as it is perceived.
Stevenson also lead us to believe that in hopes of repressing his urges, whatever Hyde did, Jekyll was not responsible for. Jekyll did not feel guilty nor did he feel in the wrong. Although these were Jekyll’s desires, he used Hyde to carry them out but, “Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde, but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously...