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Art Wu
EWRT 1B
3/24/2013
Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Research Paper
Human Nature
We have been very familiar with the idea——the dual nature of the human psyche, or split personality, because it has formed the basis of many novels and has been explored in many scientific works. Compared with the coin, it is not difficult to know that everyone has two sides: one is good; one is bad. Well, the book “Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” written by Robert Louis Stevenson, is just about a person who has a dual personality, but not so exactly to some extent. It is a mystery story, and the mystery is Mr. Hyde. Who is he? What is he? For most of the book, I’m lead to believe that the story concerns two people. Dr Jekyll, born in a rich family in the year 1830, is a kindly old doctor, with two very old friends, Utterson and Lanyon. Mr. Hyde is a smaller, younger man, with a capacity for evil which seems to emanate from him and repels everyone he meets. And yet, despite being apparent opposites in so many ways, there are clear links between the two men. Hyde gives the family of a child he has beaten a cheque signed by Jekyll. Hyde has a key to the back entrance to Jekyll’s house, and Hyde can come and go at will and give orders to Jekyll’s servants. Most disturbing of all for Mr. Utterson, who is Dr Jekyll’s lawyer, are the terms of the doctor’s will, which bequeaths all the doctor’s money to Hyde should the doctor disappear for three months. Clearly, Hyde has some sort of hold over the doctor, and the lawyer fears may murder him at some point for his money. Gradually, Hyde’s acts of cruelty become worse and worse, culminating in the murder of a famous man. During the murder, Hyde is recognized and goes on the run. At first, Utterson is pleased to read a letter from Hyde saying that he is going away forever, but is horrified when he realizes that it is in Jekyll’s handwriting. Finally, I learn the truth about the two men. They are one and the same. Jekyll has been conducting experiments to release the evil man inside his good self, but the experiments have got out of control. Mr. Hyde emerges at will and it takes stronger and stronger doses of chemicals to return to the form of Jekyll. Finally, Jekyll runs out of chemicals and Hyde emerges forever, only to kill himself before he can be captured. It is obvious that this story represents a concept in Western culture, that of the inner conflict of humanity's sense of good and evil. In particular the novella has been interpreted as an examination of the duality of human nature (that good and evil exists in all), and that the failure to accept this tension (to accept the evil or shadow side) results in the evil being projected onto others. Paradoxically in this argument, evil is actually committed in an effort to extinguish the perceived evil that has been projected onto the innocent victims. In Freudian Theory the thoughts and desires banished to the unconscious mind motivate the behavior of the conscious mind. If someone banishes all evil to the unconscious mind in an attempt to be wholly and completely good, it can result in the development of a Mr. Hyde-type aspect to that person's character. This failure to accept the tension of duality is related to Christian theology, where Satan's fall from Heaven is due to his refusal to accept that he is a created being (that he has a dual nature) and is not God. This is why in Christianity, pride (to consider oneself as without sin or without evil) is the greatest sin, as it is the precursor to evil itself; it also explains the Christian concept of evil hiding in the light. The novella has also been noted as "one of the best guidebooks of the Victorian era" because of its piercing description of the fundamental dichotomy of the 19th century "outward respectability and inward lust," as this period had a tendency for social hypocrisy. It’s generally acknowledged that one of the hallmarks of the Gothic novel is its preoccupation...
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