The Conscious and Unconscious: Analysis on the Life of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde

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The Conscious and Unconscious: Analysis on the Life of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde

Bernadine SyTiong

March 16 2010

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson originated from a dream that the author once had and he described it as “a fine bogy tale” when he awoke from it. Stevenson was first inspired from the city’s low life and the bizarre characters that he came across with and that his Calvinistic upbringing and his constant fight against ill-health led him to be engrossed with death and the darker side of human nature serving as his inspiration in many of his works making him as a novelist often noted by his powers of invention and depth of psychological insight found in his work. This novel which focuses on the split personality and the belief that evil is potentially more powerful than good has been a popular topic even up until now. Humans may often be ignorant about the fact that at times they do hear a voice inside that tells them the desires of a personality exactly the opposite of the current one. The “Theory of Psychoanalysis” according to Sigmund Freud is that the whole psychoanalytic theory is in fact built up on the perception of the resistance exerted by the patient when we try to make him conscious of his unconscious. Once a person lets his unconscious free even for only a matter of time, it will always desire to get out from its cell once he is closed in again and the conscious will be disturbed and often times give in to the temptation of letting the other be control of him again. A successful doctor born to a large fortune and well respected by his fellow men, a life seems like to be perfect yet still yearning for something. This is exactly how Dr. Henry Jekyll feels after years of failure in inventing a sort of potion. His years of wanting to complete it only made him more anxious of desiring to have its final result and maybe finally ease his longing of something he has yet to discover. Dr. Jekyll is the best example of man in its most secret manner for man hides his true feelings which he knows can affect people’s view of him. Here we can see Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. The unconscious is manifested to us as something that holds itself in suspense in the area of the unborn. When Dr. Jekyll had finally completed the potion and tested it on himself, an alter ego of himself came out yet this alter ego looked nothing like him for if Jekyll was a little man with a big handsome face, Edward Hyde, Jekyll’s alter ego was described as: “Pale and dwarfish; he gave an impression of deformity without any namable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, he had borne himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture of timidity and boldness, and he spoke with a husky whispering and somewhat broken voice…” Everyone that met him had an impression of unknown disgust, loathing and fear towards him, very unlikely when compared to Dr. Jekyll. In this case we see that there is a split of personality and by their appearances we can already see who the bad is and the good. Though this seems surreal and impossible, it implements a person’s “splitting of the mind” and “splitting of the consciousness” which belongs to Freud’s “Several prominent 19th century about unconscious process”. Whenever Edward Hyde is in control of the body, he has a hunger for evil like he breathes it, on the other hand when Henry Jekyll gets back to his body he seems to not remember what Hyde has done like he was asleep all the time that Hyde was in control. The first of Freud’s ideas is that, “mental activity separates into parallel streams, only one of which can be conscious at any moment.” In other words, he described this as the splitting of the mind. Here he described that a man as such performs activities mechanically and with only half their mind on them. There really are times that people do things unconsciously even just for a second because there are times that we...
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