Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Tragic Hero

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In the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll was a scientist who felt constrained by the social expectations. He created a potion that he hoped would split the good half from the evil half in him. The potion backfired and created Mr. Hyde - a second, evil, personality to share Dr. Jekyll’s body. This second personality eventually drives him to take his (and Mr. Hyde’s) life. A tragic hero is an essentially noble or admirable person who causes his own downfall due to some flaw in his own character (the “tragic flaw”). Dr. Jekyll is not a tragic hero. Dr. Jekyll’s notions for creating the potion were neither noble nor admirable, and his one act of goodness at the end does not redeem him for all of the evil that Mr. Hyde has done.

Dr. Jekyll created the potion to escape from reality and to create a scapegoat so that he can go and do outrageous things. This is, in no way, noble or admirable. Dr. Jekyll wanted more excitement in his life and he was too scared to go out and do things like gambling, drinking and having affairs with various women, so he created Mr. Hyde. If Dr. Jekyll was heroic, he would have ignored the “rules of society,” and gone out and done the things himself. The other reason that Dr. Jekyll created Mr. Hyde is for personal fame and glory. Dr. Jekyll just wanted to be famous. Both of these reasons are extremely self-centered and self-serving. Dr. Jekyll is a selfish coward and should not be considered a hero, tragic or otherwise.

Dr. Jekyll eventually takes his own life to protect the world from the evil that is Mr. Hyde. This is a noble act and is the ONLY noble or heroic thing that Dr. Jekyll does in this novel. It does not balance out all of the discord that Mr. Hyde has caused. Mr. Hyde ran over a little girl without saying as much as sorry. “All at once, I saw two figures: one a little man who was stumping along eastward at a good walk, and the other a girl of maybe eight or ten who was running as hard as she was...
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