illustration of a face with two separate halves, one good and one evil, located above the fumes of a potion

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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How does Jekyll interpret his relationship with Hyde?

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Henry Jekyll is a man who is proud of his upstanding reputation and position in the community, but he struggled with his darker side which presented him with temptations and behaviors that his good side was ashamed of and had difficulty dealing with.  In an effort to discover more about the dual nature of man, Henry Jekyll begins experimenting and creates a potion and drinks it, willingly risking his life.

Dr. Jekyll believes that he has succeeded in separating the dual nature of man, the good from the evil.  So when he sees Mr. Hyde, he is thrilled, even though Hyde is hideous looking and much smaller in stature.

With Hyde released, and Jekyll carefully hidden beneath, Mr. Hyde is set free to be wild and violent without consequences. His vicious nature released, Dr. Jekyll is able to indulge in his dark passions without shame or guilt.  He is pleased with the arrangement, as Mr. Hyde, Jekyll is animalistic in nature, but he bears no responsibility as Dr. Jekyll.

"Jekyll has a mixed response to his alter ego. When he drinks the potion and transforms into Hyde he at first admits, "I felt younger, lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness, a current of disordered sensual images running like a millrace in my fancy ... an unknown but not an innocent freedom of the soul. I knew myself at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil;"

Dr. Jekyll believes that he needs Mr. Hyde in order to live a good and pure life.  He is able to absolve himself of temptations and desires, exercising them as Mr. Hyde so as Dr. Jekyll, his behavior is impecable, beyond reproach, he is civil, polite, upright and law abiding.



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How does Dr. Jekyll interpret his relationship with Mr. Hyde?

At first, Dr. Jekyll is excited when he changes into his alter ego. "I felt younger; lighter; happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness,..." Jekyll feels a sense of freedom from his transformation, knowing that Hyde represents a part of himself. "This too was myself. It seemed natural and human. In my eyes it bore a lovelier image of the spirit, it seemed more express and single, than the imperfect and divided countenance I had been hitherto accustomed to call mine." Later, however, Dr. Jekyll realizes the evil of Mr. Hyde, noticing his smaller stature when he turns into Hyde. As Dr. Jekyll tries to control Mr. Hyde's corrupt and violent acts, Mr. Hyde gains strength, expressed by the merciless and fatal beating of Carew. Hyde enjoys the murder, displaying that "in the hands of Edward Hyde [his pleasures] began to turn toward the monstrous" reflecting Hyde's "vicarious depravity" in carrying out his crime. The only alternative left to Dr. Jekyll is his suicide.

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How does Dr. Jekyll interpret his relationship with Hyde?

Dr. Jekyll does not repudiate his kinship with his alter ego Mr. Hyde. He seems to have a certain feeling of affection for this other individual because he recognizes him as a kindred spirit. This is not uncommon in human relations. A man who is honorable, civilized, public-spirited and law-abiding might be attracted to another man who is entirely different, who rejects conventional morality and lives to please himself. This kind of hedonistic, irresponsible man can lead an otherwise sober, industrious and trustworthy man astray, and even eventually lead that man to his utter ruin. The same thing can happen to women who are led astray by men or by other women.

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, the greedy, crafty, selfish, and miserly Cassius says to himself after his interview with the noble Brutus:

Well, Brutus, thou are noble; yet I see

Thy honorable mettle may be wrought

From that it is disposed. Therefore it is meet

That noble minds keep ever with their likes;

For who so firm that cannot be seduced. (I.3)

Dr. Jekyll may be naive, like Brutus, or schemeing, like Cassius. They are easy to victimize by inferior men. Both come to tragic ends.

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In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, how does Jekyll interpret his relationship to Hyde?  

Dr. Jekyll goes through several phases of interpreting his relationship to Hyde. At first, Jekyll is simply delighted about being Hyde. For one thing, he has proved his theories about dualities and separating dualities to be true. For another, he feels a vast freedom in being able to behave anyway he wants and have no constraints and, more importantly, no possibility of shaking people's opinion of him as a man of high moral and religious values. As Jekyll's conversions to Hyde (a name in Scandinavian meaning sanctuary) continue, Jekyll becomes worried and then alarmed because he feels Mr. Hyde becoming stronger and more robust with his evil power. Jekyll feels the relationship between them changing and knows that, at the rate things are going, he will one spontaneously turn into Hyde and stay that way. At this point Jekyll begins to be fearful of the relationship. Indeed one morning he awakens in Dr Jekyll's house and bed but in Mr. Hyde's stature and person. Another change in how Jekyll feels about the relationship when he mends his ways and devotes himself to doing good: he feels like a man who has escaped a horrible fate. He even feels arrogant and smug about his charitable activities. Finally, when Hyde takes over once again while Jekyll sits sunning himself in the park and gloating about himself, Jekyll's feels pure terror about his relationship to Hyde; knowing there is a price on Hyde's/his head for murder undoubtedly spurs that terror forward. It is this final feeling of terror that compels Jekyll to end the life of Hyde and in so doing, end his own life as well.

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How does Dr. Jekyll interpret his relationship with Mr. Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

In Chapter 10 of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll speaks about his relationship with Mr. Hyde. The relationship is a complex and progressive one. His scientific medical studies were "wholly towards the mystic and the transcendental" for the purpose of answering the questions of whether the two sides of human duality--good and evil--could be separated so that evil could go it's own way without conscience and good could go its own way without temptation toward evil.
In the beginning of his experiments, Jekyll was amused by the ability to shed the respectable life of Henry Jekyll and assume the depraved life of Edward Hyde: "I smiled at the seemed...houmorous." In the end, after the murder of Sir Danvers and the beginning of Jekyll's spontaneous transformations into Hyde--the first of which occurred on a park bench--Jekyll became repulsed by Hyde, like everyone else was, and hated him with a deep loathing just as Hyde now hated Jekyll.
In Jekyll's confession written to Mr. Utterson he says he can no longer call Hyde "I" as Hyde is "another than myself." Jekyll recognizes the impossibility of a split duality and acknowledges that the creature Hyde is not himself. Jekyll knows that, since the chemical powders are all used up, at the next transformation into Hyde, Jekyll will cease to be and Hyde's destiny will be (he believes) morally separate--if not physically separate--from his own.

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