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The duality of human nature-Jekyll's reason/explanation


Jekyll insists that “man is not truly one, but truly two”, he imagines that human soul is the battlefield for angel and devil fighting for mastery. Jekyll himself admits in his confession that since he was young, he felt an inner dualism: he swung between respectability, seriousness in public and frivolous, indecent desires in the depth of his soul. The will of keeping the respect he had won among his colleagues but, at the same time, of satisfying his “animal instincts”, “his inner beast”, led him to perform experiments in order to divide the double side of his soul. This achievement, that he masks as a success for mankind , is actually the fulfillment of his dream of living without limits his evil intents, which are concealed in every man, still keeping on showing an honest “surface”.( That’s why, after changing from Hyde into Jekyll, he feels in high spirits for his night “raids” and not guilt for Hyde’s crimes). This is the Victorian compromise: appearance was the only important thing, behind which people could conceal the ugliest crimes. Jekyll feels oppressed and blocked by the strict laws and code of behavior of the society, he needs a way to express his true I, which requires freedom, satisfaction of senses, dissoluteness and brutality.

Dr. Jekyll V.S Mr. Hyde


Jekyll is a respected doctor and prosperous man, well established in the community and well known for his kindness, his charitable works and his religious devoutness. Since his youth, he has always distinguished for his great ability, hardworking attitude and his “desire” to be respected by the best and wisest among his colleagues. He has always led “a life of effort, virtue and control”(but he has also concealed his “pleasures”, has secretly engaged in unspecified dissolute and corrupt behavior).For what concerns his look, Dr Jekyll is a tall, handsome, well-made man, he has a harmoniously proportioned body, white well-shaped hands and a smooth face.
Mr Hyde is a small, ugly, deformed person, with dark, hairy hands and a pale face which reveal no sign of mercy. As a consequence, his appearance arouses hatred and repugnance in those people looking at him( he’s a revolting individual). His physical ugliness and deformity symbolizes his moral hideousness and warped ethics. In fact, Mr Hyde is pure hate, evil and the crimes he has committed reveal his depravity and cruelty: they involve violence against innocent people who haven’t done anything to provoke his rage and deserve death; this underlines the extreme immorality of Jekyll’s dark side. Mr Hyde has trampled over a little girl who had bumped into him by chance, then has killed Danvers Carew violently, with a stick, delighting in the crime, showing no remorse for the murder. Hyde’s hairiness indicates Jekyll’s animalistic instincts (Stevenson often uses similes or metaphors referring to animals to describe him: Hyde moves as quickly as a monkey, he hisses…) Hyde is a primitive creature, just an animal pushed by instinct, passion, heedlessness of moral and social constraints, violence against innocents for no reason except the joy of it. He represents the supremacy of instinct over reason, immorality over morality. Finally, his small stature is due to the fact that Jekyll’s dark side isn’t developed very much, since he has always led a virtuous life; Hyde is less powerful than his alter ego (indeed Hyde is often represented while he’s wearing Jekyll’s clothes which are too large for him, this is the symbol of the doctor’s greatness), but this is valid only at the first time: because of al the crimes and iniquities committed by Mr Hyde, Jekyll becomes weaker and weaker and his dark side starts to overcome him. Every time Jekyll feels tired or sleeps, he changes into Hyde without the help of the potion; this makes him understand that he must cease with the transformation if he doesn’t want to be trapped in Hyde’s form forever.
The double personality Jekyll’s is reinforced by the symbolism of his house whose different façades represent the opposite sides of his soul: the decaying door which is part of a sinister block of flat and the air of neglect symbolizes Hyde’s corruption and perversity, whereas the prosperous-looking main house stands for Jekyll’s respectability. Because of the structure of the streets in the area, people can’t understand they are part of the same building, so they can’t detect the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde.
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