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 "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" represent Jekyll as a whole person and Hyde as a purer, less complex person?

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In “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Robert Louis Stevenson demonstrates the differences between a whole person and a partial person through his crafting of the two titular characters. Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego, Mr. Hyde, represent the dualism of human nature. This juxtaposition is both psychological and physical.

Dr. Jekyll is presented to us as a whole person. He is a well-respected doctor, known for his kind, generous behavior. There are multiple facets to his personality: he is a friend, a professional, and a caring, charitable member of his community. He is hard-working, dedicated, curious, friendly, and inquisitive. He is able to feel a complex, contrasting range of emotions, including joy, fear, sadness, guilt, and compassion. Physically, he is described as a typical, fully developed grown man.

Contrastingly, Mr. Hyde is portrayed as a partial person. He is not complex like Dr. Jekyll. His personality does not have multiple facets; he is only one thing: evil. He is a violent, cruel being who is incapable of complex thoughts and emotions. His one and only interest is the commission of evil acts. Physically, Mr. Hyde is described as being of “small stature” and grotesque in appearance. He is “pale and dwarfish,” and he gives the “impression of deformity.” The characters who encounter Mr. Hyde are often unable to articulate their impressions of him, but something about him leaves them all unnerved and perturbed.

Dr. Jekyll acknowledges that darkness is a part of his personality, but he cannot act on his dark urges, because he is limited by the constraints of civilization and social norms. To remedy this problem, he develops a potion that allows him to separate his good and evil sides. Mr. Hyde is the embodiment of the evil part of Dr. Jekyll’s personality.

The physical difference between the two characters suggests that Dr. Jekyll’s good side is more fully developed than his evil side. Mr. Hyde appears small and underdeveloped in comparison to Dr. Jekyll because evil is merely one of many aspects of Dr. Jekyll’s personality.

Dr. Jekyll has a complete personality, whereas Mr. Hyde has only one characteristic. Although Dr. Jekyll is a whole, complex person, he is also less pure than Mr. Hyde. Since his personality is comprised of multiple different parts, these parts are diluted in a sense. Mr. Hyde has one concentrated quality, which makes him purer than his counterpart. Dr. Jekyll is governed and limited by society, whereas Mr. Hyde has the freedom to be true to himself and surrender to his impulses and desires, evil as they may be. Dr. Jekyll cannot indulge his darkness and is forced to suppress it, preventing him from being his true self.

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