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Discuss how, symbolically, Hyde only represents a small portion of Dr. Jekyll. Does...

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chaffss13 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 27, 2011 at 12:13 AM via web

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Discuss how, symbolically, Hyde only represents a small portion of Dr. Jekyll. Does this mean that only a small part of him is evil?

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 12, 2012 at 5:00 PM (Answer #1)

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Stevenson obviously wanted to suggest that, at least in the case of Dr. Jekyll, the evil part of his character was much smaller than the good. Stevenson's story is intended to illustrate the truth that every human character is a mixture of good and bad qualities, but the author could not avoid acknowledging that the mixtures are different in different persons. In Dr. Jekyll's case, it is specifically stated in several places that he is a very good man who spends his time doing medical research  to benefit humanity. The amount of wickedness in his character is relatively small, although he is well aware that it exists. The evil portion of Dr. Jekyll that remains when he is transformed into Mr. Hyde is symbolized by the fact that Hyde is much smaller in stature and that Jekyll's clothes look ridiculously large on him on the occasions Jekyll unexpectedly becomes transformed into Hyde without having had time to change into the clothing he had to have specially made for his alter-ego. Stevenson emphasizes Hyde's small stature because he wants to remind the reader of the big difference between the two men's characters. There is a strong suggestion throughout this tale that a person's character can be judged from his general appearance. A good man looks like a good man and an evil man looks like an evil man, according to the general belief in Victorian times.

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