Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
From the text "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", Stevenson demonstrates the social moral hypocrisy that prevails in the society. Stevenson has used the character of Jekyll to explain the moral aspect in the society. In the text, Stevenson portrays the nature of human beings how they struggle to hide the inner self especially the negative part in an attempt to retain the outer self mostly the good part of the self. The human beings struggle to keep the evil part of the self as they struggle to manifest the good part of the self. In the text, Stevenson indicates that this leads to tension in the minds as characters struggle to maintain their faces in the social environment. No one is ready to accept the humiliation related to these vices.
In the text, Stevenson has mainly used the character of Jekyll to portray how people struggle to maintain external moral purity. Jekyll is a doctor in profession who has lived with double identities as Jekyll as well as Hyde. Jekyll finds himself in too high pressure to distinguish what is really good and bad. In his attempt to retain his moral purity at the face of the society, he comes up with the guise of Hyde. Jekyll is so determined to retain his moral purity that he manages to discover a potion that would help him to undergo metamorphosis. Hyde represents the evil part of Dr. Jekyll. He portrays the hidden real character of Jekyll. All this effort was aimed to separate his bad qualities from the bad ones (Head, 2006, p.308).
Through the help of the potion, Jekyll manages to portray only the good side of him and conceal the evil part of himself through Hyde. All these efforts are driven by the desire to maintain the external purity.
Ironically, Jekyll says that his sins are nothing compared to those made by Hyde. That is because he is determined to portray the better part of himself. Jekyll want to show that his behavior is better off compared to others. In the form of Hyde, Jekyll creates fear and disgust. It is ironical that Utterson has even reached an extent of fearing for his friend Jekyll for their close relationship with Hyde. He believes that Hyde is posing a danger to the upstanding citizen like Jekyll.
As Hyde, Jekyll commits all forms of antisocial activities comfortably as he is shielded from losing his social purity. One day, while he was walking along the path in the form of Hyde, he knocked down a young girl of about eight or ten when their paths crossed. Surprisingly, he did not stop to help the poor child. Instead, he trampled over her and continued walking as if nothing had happened. He left child there screaming helplessly (Stevenson, 2008,pg. 5). On the other hand, Enfield who was angered by Hyde's action ran after him. In this case, Jekyll behaves in a queer way different from what the society perceives of him. But this does not worry him as the society is viewing him at a different perspective from the genuine Jekyll.
After Hyde was collared back by Enfield after stamping over the young girl, he gave him a very ugly look that made him to bring down sweat (Stevenson, 2008, pg. 5). In this case, Jekyll completely changes his friendly nature that he portrayed to his friends in his genuine form. When later he is forced to pay the parents of the family, Enfield is completely astonished when Hyde makes the payment with a cheque signed by a person he did not expect to be related to Hyde. This is because of the broad difference in terms of behavior that existed between Jekyll and Hyde. Enfield was not aware that he was handling Dr. Jekyll.
In another occasion, Jekyll was overpowered by rage after transforming into Hyde. He changes completely and becomes over raged; a situation that led him to attack Danvers Carew with a heavy rod. The servant to the MP witnesses the incidence and recognizes Mr. Hyde (Stevenson, 2008, pg. 28). From this incidence, Jekyll displays the extremes of the decadence of his behavior. This is very different from the picture that is portrayed by his external appearance as Dr. Jekyll.
From this incident, Jekyll manages to protect his social purity through the disguise of Hyde. He does not feel embarrassed as he is transformed in a different form. While in this form of Hyde, he is overcome by the urge to do all the evils of the world with all the freedom.
From the text, the story seems to advocate only on the appearance of the purity rather than the purity itself. The text encourages people to commit sins in secret provided they are not discovered. That is the reason why many people in the text struggle to maintain their outer appearance rather than the inner purity. Many characters that possess evil are very keen not to reveal these traits to the world.
The story has demonstrated incidences where people have thrived through forging outer purity that reflects exactly opposite of the inner self. For instance, the fact that Jekyll has succeeded to maintain his identity of external purity despite his secret evil deeds is a good example. Although Jekyll has been involved in dirty acts like stamping over a child mercilessly, he still maintains his moral purity at the eyes of the public (Shmoop, 2009, p.2). We can see people like his lawyer Utterson fearing for him because of his close relationship with the dangerous Hyde. In this sense, the story does not advocate for the purity, rather it advocates for its appearance.
When Jekyll was talking to Utterson and Enfield through the window on their Sunday outing, he quickly closed the window in front of them after discovering that he was being transformed into Hyde involuntarily (Stevenson, 2008, pg. 48.). This was after the weakening of his potion. The fact is that Jekyll does not want Utterson and Enfield to discover his relationship with Hyde. Such a revelation will alter his appearance at the eye of the public.
Hyde says that his sins are nothing compared to those made by Hyde. Ironically, this Hyde represents his hidden characters. That means what is important is the appearance of the moral purity rather than the purity itself. Jekyll feels that everything is okay provided he manages to sustain the appearance. Jekyll is determined to commit all sort of evil under the umbrella of Hyde.
The text condemns the over emphasizing of the appearance of moral purity through the case of Hyde. The outward appearance is what people use to judge individuals. This situation oppresses the people in their effort to maintain this outer appearance. People end up in tension in their effort to suppress the evil part of themselves. In the text, Dr. Jekyll is so disturbed that he develops a potion that transforms him into Hyde, the form which portrays the hidden nature of his character. Unfortunately, Dr. Jekyll finally committed suicide after discovering that he was not able to transform himself back into Hyde. He opted for suicide because he could not stand the humiliation with the outer impurity of Hyde. The writer here condemns the unnecessary emphasis on the outer character of the people rather than the inner part of self.
In conclusion, the text has clearly demonstrated that people struggle to maintain the good part of their life while they keep the evil part secret. Characters like Jekyll uses double character to portray only one side of him. The outward appearance of moral purity is what is emphasized. This is what forces Jekyll to come up with a potion that will enable him to maintain his outer appearance. The novel also emphasizes on the issue of emerging science and development (Johnson & Johnson, p.97). Finally, he commits suicide when he discovered that he could no longer retain his outward moral purity when the ingredients to make another potion ran out.