Personality and the Beast Within in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Everyone has a dual personality, two sides, good and evil. Robert
Louis Stephenson uses the book to explain this, he wanted people to
realise that not only Dr Jekyll carries a double personality, but the
other characters in the book too. Also the people reading it must see
that they too, are a part of this frightening uncontrollable fact,
that there is “the beast within” us all.
Stephenson suggests that all gentlemen keep secrets, suppress
emotions, desires, and hide their true inner self. In the story Mr.
Utterson is a great example of a gentleman (lawyer) needing to
suppress his less socially acceptable side for the sake of preserving
his respectable standing in society. ‘Though he enjoyed the theatre
hadn’t crossed the doors of one for twenty years’… ‘Utterson was
austere with himself’. Drinking only alone, having the security of
knowing that he is the only person who might witness and therefore
judge him, the respected gentleman could appear a little out of
control. Mr.Utterson feels that if he indulges in luxuries such as
these, he may become too involved and express himself freely, he’s
frightened that he could ruin his image and loose his respectable
reputation. Mr. Utterson hides his other side whereas Jekyll shows it,
by choice or not.
Once the theories of scientists such as Charles Darwin, Herbert
Spencer and T.H Huxley became known people began to think of the human
struggle between good and evil and psychological terms. Ideas such as
‘The theory of evolution’ and the ‘survival of the fittest’,
contradicted the teachings of the Old Testament, and lead many people
to question Christianity. However many people were shocked by these
ideas as they meant that God did not actually construct us all as
unique human beings in view of his own image, but that we had slowly
evolved from earlier simpler life forms. It was hard to accept that we
are just one species among many fighting for survival.
In the nineteenth century Christians believed that on the day of
judgement animals and monsters would go down to hell with the damned.
Newspapers printed pictures of apes standing next to human beings
showing the duration of the evolution and comparing the few
differences. Life had never been looked like this before, nor shared
with the public. It was all very strange and frightening. In the book
‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, Robert Louis Stephenson
writes that Hyde ‘moves like a monkey’. Hyde is compared to an animal,
he is ‘ape-like’, in the introduction-under the tittle Apes and
Angels-it shows that ‘Jekyll conceives of Hyde as his lower element’.
Throughout this book Jekyll is evolving backwards, the mad scientist
has gone too far with his experiments and releases the beast within
At the end of the story Hyde defeats Jekyll-his physical...