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What is the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
The relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of interconnected dualism. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are opposing, yet complimentary aspects of the same person, engrossed in an internal struggle between Victorian restraint and atavistic, criminal urges (Bennett 2015) (Arata 1995).
As Dr. Jekyll recounts, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are embodiments of “the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness.” (Stevenson 2005). The character of Mr. Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personifies the primitive, murderous, angry, and what was perceived by Victorian society, as degenerate impulses of Dr. Jekyll (Arata 1995). His primitivism is implied by his “ape-like” appearance (Arata 1995). This is in stark contrast to the sociable, well-groomed appearance of Dr. Jekyll, symbolic of the values of the Victorian professional class, characterized by the notion that one’s reputation and honor is of utmost importance (Macura 2009). Dr. Jekyll ingests a potion that transforms him into Mr. Hyde, altering his appearance, so that he can indulge in impulsive, primitive, and sometimes, criminal pleasures of “the lower aspects of his soul”, without the resulting consequences to his reputation (Stevenson 2005). When Dr. Jekyll decides that his reputation, and material wealth derived from it, are more important than his indulging his “primitive self”, which affords him a feeling of youthfulness, strength, and freedom, he finds himself beyond a point of no return. Consequently, whereas he started ingesting the potion to become Mr. Hyde, this alter-ego becomes the dominant personality, and he becomes dependent on the potion to maintain his original personality of Dr. Jekyll.
Clearly, the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of antagonistic, internal, aspects of a single personality, struggling for dominance. It is symbolic of the internal moralistic battle of the human experience.
Arata, Stephen D. “The Sedulous Ape: Atavism, Professionalism, and Stevenson’s” Jekyll and Hyde”.” Criticism 37.2 (1995): 233-259. Accessed 24 October 2017. www.jstor.com
Bennett, Susanna. Representations and Manifestations of Madness in Victorian Fiction. Diss. University of Waikato, 2015. Accessed on 24 October 2017. researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz
Macura, Michal. “Moral, social and psychological issues in the works of Robert Louis
Stevenson.” Thesis. 2009. Accessed 24 October 2017. dspace.cuni.cz
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Broadview Press, 2005.
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