In light of Halloween, rather than write a horror story like the 2016 Presidential Election, I thought to share something rather unfamiliar to general public. The beloved classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has interesting twists that correlate perfectly to the Seven Monster Thesis By Cohen (http://courses.jessestommel.com/queerrhetorics/Sch...) as well as the Freudian Complex and even evolutionary traits. If you haven't read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, read it and get back to me. You'll want to hear this analysis as it will completely blow your mind and give the book a whole new meaning.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a mystery novella at the surface. However, once one analyzes the text, he/she will unveil the more scholarly aspect of the short story. The main characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, represent the duality of human nature and parallel superlatively with the first thesis, ”the Monster’s Body is a Cultural Body”, from Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s Monster Theory Reading Culture (Seven Theses), a list of theses that intend to relate traits from fictional monsters with monsters in our society. Furthermore, features of the Freudian Complex as well as an underlying theme of evolution, transforming uncivilized individuals to humans with complex emotions drilled into them by society, are disseminated throughout the novella. In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the author Stevenson delineates a multitude of themes including the relationship between monster and culture, the duality of individuals, evolution, and philosophical and psychoanalytical ideals.
According to Cohen, “a monster embodies a fear, desire, anxiety, or fantasy” (4). Therefore, it can be argued that Mr. Hyde is the monster and Dr. Jekyll is the representation of culture. Cohen’s first thesis further expounds upon the reason for Hyde’s existence. The people of London perceived their reputation as their most prized possession, and they would not do anything to weaken their status. Hyde is the physical embodiment of the Londoners’ fear: loss of reputation. Dr. Jekyll yearns for Mr. Hyde’s ability to indulge in all selfish desires. However, Dr. Jekyll is forced to repress his unorthodox means in order to keep his reputation as a well-respected doctor intact. By creating a completely different entity by the name of Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll remains a distinguished individual in the eyes of his peers while simultaneously pampering his evil side society would not approve of.
Another pertinent theme in the novel is expressed not only in the characters but also in setting. The main setting (Jekyll's house) and multiple characters in the novella are all examples of the duality of nature and represent the good and evil in each individual. Dr. Jekyll's personality and morality combined with Mr. Hyde's evil and retaliation make up a human being (Singh and Chakrabarti 2). Singh and Chakrabarti define duality as the following:
Simply put, dualism can be understood as a thought that the facts about the world in general or of a particular class cannot be explained except by supposing ultimately the existence of two different, often opposite, and irreducible principles. Dualism is most often discussed in context of the systems of religion as well as philosophy. (1)
Dr. Jekyll is the good side of individuals, the side that displays judiciousness and rationality. Mr. Hyde is the bad side of individuals that depicts the darker indulgences that all people clandestinely crave. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde together create the perfectly imperfect human being. Mr. Enfield is a more subtle example of the duality of nature. He “encounters Mr. Hyde coming home from some place at the end of the world, about three o clock of a black winter morning” (Stevenson 8). Why Mr. Enfield is walking the streets at three in the morning is not divulged in the novella, but one can suspect based on his whereabouts that his actions were not the most honorable (Buzwell 7). One can assume that Mr. Enfield, although not explicitly stated, lives a secret double life as well. Duality of nature is also expressed in setting. Dr. Jekyll’s house is in a very elitist neighborhood but the back of his house is connected to the worn out, old door that Mr. Hyde entered to retrieve money to pay off for his awful misdemeanor, trampling over a young girl. “The twist is that the reputable front and the rundown rear form two sides of the same property" (Buzwell 7). Because the front of Dr. Jekyll’s house is respectable, associated with the doctor’s goodness, and the back is associated with Mr. Hyde and crimes against humanity, Jekyll’s house is a physical and figurative example of the duality of human nature.
Evolutionary principles are also threaded throughout the novella. Mr. Hyde represents uncivilized individuals and Dr. Jekyll represents civilized human beings. Dr. Jekyll is viewed as an honest, dependable man while Mr. Hyde is ostracized. Everyone is fearful of him. He is also said to be throughout the novella ‘physically detestable’ yet no one can point out anything specifically wrong with his appearance. Greg Buzwell’s analysis of the evolutionary aspect of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impeccably fits with Hyde’s undistinguishable deformation. It also explains why Mr. Hyde feels no shame harming others and, as a result, does not fear tarnishing his reputation. He considers the idea that Mr. Hyde is physically detestable to others because “he subconsciously reminds those he encounters of their own distant evolutionary inheritance" (Buzwell 1). Dr. Jekyll however does care for his reputation, and thereby refuses to commit heretical acts against his society and people. When the people of London take a look at Hyde they see no physical deformity but a mental one. His lack of conformity, guilt, and embarrassment frighten and disgust the civilized individuals of London and thus, they find Hyde grotesque. These complex ideals are drilled into humans based on societal values which is why Mr. Hyde, an uncivilized degeneration of mankind, does not abide by them.
Certain elements in the novella are representations of components discussed in the Freudian Complex. Singh and Chakrabarti both explain that Jekyll rationalizes and creates balance between his wants and society’s demands (ego) whereas Hyde works only to please himself (id) (1). The id is the part of the mind that indulges in all desires juxtaposed with Mr. Hyde who does whatever he needs to be satisfied. The ego is the part of the mind that balances desires and morality which can be paralleled with Dr. Jekyll and his urge to indulge but his responsibility to remain a notable doctor in London (Singh and Chakrabarti 3). Mr. Hyde is obligated to suppress his ungodly desires which is why he is the ego according to Freudian Complex. The superego can be represented by London society in the Victorian era because the superego is the sort of inner moral authority (Singh and Chakrabarti 3). The primary reason that Dr. Jekyll created Mr. Hyde was to satisfy the superego. With the creation of Hyde, Jekyll is deemed a decent individual under society’s watchful eye while Hyde destroys all what Jekyll’s seems to stand for: morality and reputation. Mr. Hyde is the id because he, without hesitation, does whatever is needed to satisfy himself, whether it’s trampling a young girl or killing a man. Both Jekyll and Hyde’s characteristics make up a human being, all with flaws and all…or most… with a sense of morality.
The culmination of evolutionary, psychoanalytical, and philosophical ideals as well as the application of the facets of human nature are at the core of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll is a representation of not only culture but a civilized human being as well as the ego according to the Freudian Complex. He is the character with strict moral guidelines that were embedded in him by his society. This is why Dr. Jekyll refrains from committing crimes. He is a prime example of how our desires are restricted by our environment. Mr. Hyde is the monster and the uncivilized individual who has not developed enough to understand complex emotions such as guilt, sadness, anxiety, or fear: an explanation for his unfitting behavior in London. It also clarifies on the “deformity” Hyde supposedly has which is the lack of humanity he displays. Together both Dr. Jekyll’s goodness and Mr. Hyde’s selfishness compose every individual. One cannot exist without the other which is why in the end, once Hyde is destroyed, Jekyll is destroyed as well.
Buzwell, Greg. "‘Man Is Not Truly One, but Truly Two’: Duality in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde." British Library. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota, 1996. 4, Print.
Singh, Shubh M., and Subho Chakrabarti. "A Study in Dualism: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Indian Journal of Psychiatry. Medknow Publications, 2008. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Scribner, 1886. 8, Print.