What are the internal and external conflicts of Dr. Jekyll in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Stevenson?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Robert Louis Steveson's story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I believe that Dr. Jekyll is greatly conflicted about what he has done.

In terms of the internal conflict, Dr. Jekyll lives each day knowing that when he is Mr. Hyde, he is doing terrible things. Attack and then murder are things that come from Mr. Hyde, but Jekyll is partly responsible if not in the choice to carry out these actions, then from providing the opportunity that Mr. Hyde can. His sense of guilt would be man vs. self.

An external conflict is that which exists between the authorities trying to make sense of Hyde's actions and track him down, and Jekyll's need to cover it up. This is man vs. society.

As the changes continue, Dr. Jekyll becomes weaker, overcome by illness. This is an external conflict, man vs. nature. The ability of the doctor to become someone else suggests yet another external conflict: man vs. the supernatural—because this is not a normal occurrence, and "supernatural" describes anything that is beyond what is natural.

The last conflict is internal: Jekyll has to decide what he must do to stop Hyde, and ultimately, he knows he must change for one last time into Mr. Hyde and then end his life. This is man vs. self.

There are many examples of conflict within the story. Although the circumstances are unusual, the conflicts existing between Dr. Jekyll and his alter-ego are very real and significant.

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