Jekyll and Hyde Are Not Two Different Characters

Many analyses of Jekyll and Hyde discuss the duality of human character and the obsession with the primitive, evil man inside us all, begging to be let out, but many critics do not discuss how incredibly disturbing the transition actually is. They mention Jekyll and Hyde as two separate characters representing two separate ideas, but in reality they are both the same person and Dr. Jekyll is really not the ideal Victorian man most readers symbolize him as.

For example, the entire last letter describes gruesome deeds done with some remorse, but not enough based on the actions. Jekyll writes the letter in his voice; Jekyll writes the letter to Utterson, yet his descriptions about his alternate personality at the beginning of the letter show a fascination and almost fetishization. The description, for example, has a strong erotic tone to it:

“The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then these agonies began swiftly to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great sickness. There was something strange in my sensations, something indescribably new and, from its very novelty, incredibly sweet.” (57)

The language sounds sado-masochistic, and the fact that he performs this over and over again to get the same result coincides with the constant search of pleasure through pain, simulating the effects of orgasm as Deleuze and Freud wrote about. Jekyll gets pleasure out of this painful experience or else he would stop performing it over and over again. He feels a sick freedom that no one else in Victorian society, due to their strict rules, are allowed to feel.

The fact of the matter is Jekyll and Hyde, though different in appearance, are still the same exact person. Hyde comes from Jekyll, but possibly even more terrifying, Jekyll comes from Hyde. In every evil, corrupt person lies some form of goodness, which may be even scarier.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Jekyll and Hyde Are Not Two Different Characters

  1. Emily Manbeck says:

    Johan, I definitely saw the themes you have discussed here as I was reading the novella (for the second time). Jekyll creates Hyde with the belief that separating his good from his evil side will completely eradicate his corrupt thoughts and birth his true form into the world. However, his experimentations do the complete opposite. They, in fact, bring his disturbing and violent side into existence and leave his true self untainted.

    It follows that Jekyll will always have to face his darker, crueler alter ego: Not only does Jekyll feel these emotions when Hyde appears, but he also has to suffer through them when he becomes Jekyll again. Though Hyde clearly embodies evil and untamed passion, Jekyll does not necessarily serve as a paragon of rationality and virtue.

    First, if the true Jekyll were truly an angel on earth, he would not have had to go through with the experiment.

    Second, if the true Jekyll was actually all good, the “Jekyll” side would instantly overcome the bad, or “Hyde,” side. Indeed, the good and the bad would be completely separate and never have to interact with one another; or if they had again stayed in one body, the “Jekyll” side would not be as haunted by Hyde’s actions because he, Jekyll, did not possess Hyde’s malicious intents.

    Finally, Jekyll cannot exemplify moral perfection because he feels so much regret and disgust at remembering all of Hyde’s actions. Hyde literally lies, or as Ivy pointed out “hides,” inside Jekyll, popping up at moments of aggression or arousal and constantly reminding him that he can never escape his subconscious — as Freud would put it.

    However, it is in attempting to suppress Hyde that Jekyll fails and eventually fades away. As he does not address his darker thoughts, Jekyll misrepresents his true identity publicly and leaves himself vulnerable to attack from inner desire. Hyde, or evil, knows it has control over Jekyll; it knows that it will win. Drawing from Deleuze, I’ve decided that in choosing not to speak out about his private, more disgusting ideas, Jekyll prevents himself from progressing and, instead, allows for the profane and barbarian to prevail.

Leave a Reply