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

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Mr. Hyde's ability to dominate Dr. Jekyll in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

Summary:

Mr. Hyde's ability to dominate Dr. Jekyll represents the struggle between good and evil within a person. Initially, Jekyll controls the transformations, but over time, Hyde's influence grows stronger, reflecting Jekyll's loss of control over his darker impulses. This ultimately leads to Hyde's complete dominance, symbolizing how unchecked evil can overpower and consume the good.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why can Mr. Hyde destroy Dr. Jekyll?

The dark side of Dr. Jekyll (Mr. Hyde) has overtaken the "good" side of him (Dr. Jekyll).  Dr. Jekyll struggled with his own demons, including "messing around" with the order of nature and of creation, which would be a big "no-no" in the sense of Christian beliefs.  In some ways, Dr. Jekyll is playing God by experimenting with chemicals, etc., which alter who he is.  After Hyde murders someone, Dr. Jekyll realizes that he cannot escape this dark side; by the end of the story, he can turn into Hyde without the aid of chemicals.  Dr. Jekyll becomes Hyde one more time because he knows that Hyde will kill himself before being captured and sent to prison for murder. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Mr. Hyde gain control of Dr. Jekyll in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"?

Dr. Jekyll's transformation has a chemical aspect, in that he develops and drinks a potion that removes his moral inhibitions. However, the reader cannot be sure if it is the potion itself, or simply Jekyll’s belief in its effectiveness, that actually causes the change. It may be Jekyll’s desire to reduce his inhibitions that initiates his ultimate transmogrification into his evil alter ego. As he indulges in his formerly suppressed desire to commit evil deeds, the desire grows increasingly strong; ambition fuels the evil within him. The turning point comes when he commits a murder; after that, there is no returning to his pure, uncorrupted state. Jekyll realizes that “the balance of my soul” has been destroyed. Even though he returns to some of his virtuous pastimes, such as charitable works, he is insincere, so the mere performance of those actions has no positive effect: he is already lost.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Mr. Hyde gain control of Dr. Jekyll in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"?

As the divide between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde widens, Mr. Hyde increasingly takes control. This is because he represents Dr. Jekyll's more primitive, atavistic impulses, what we would today call his id. This part of Dr. Jekyll is amoral, functioning without the brakes of conscience and allowing Mr. Hyde to act directly and ruthlessly on his desires: he simply doesn't care about consequences and has no mechanism to make him care, whether his actions are right or wrong. He does what he wants to do.

Dr. Jekyll, however, is naturally prone to contemplate the moral dimensions of his actions and to put great emphasis on doing right rather than wrong. This slows him down and also stops him from exhibiting behaviors he knows would be evil. This inhibition gives the reckless and completely uninhibited Mr. Hyde his advantage.

We can see that , in the short term, the person with no conscience who is able to destroy things and grab what he wants is likely to succeed. However, in the long term, a more thoughtful and contemplative person (or society) is more likely to prevail. We see this play out in the novella when Dr. Jekyll is able to make the moral decision to commit suicide for the greater good of society, thereby stopping Mr. Hyde, who, of course, dies with him.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Mr. Hyde gain control of Dr. Jekyll in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"?

From Dr. Jekyll's own account, he has had in him prurient desires that he secretly has satisfied. When he tries to separate them from his professional identity by transforming his appearance so he can conduct his immoral activities without recognition, Jekyll inadvertently has strengthened these desires by providing them essence in the person of Mr. Hyde. Indeed, this creation of a being in whom these immoral urges can be separated from the person of Dr. Jekyll gives them strength as they have their own identity.

By Chapter 7, then, the evil side begins to dominate Jekyll as Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield take their Sunday walk. For, as they speak to Dr. Jekyll beneath his window, they notice a remarkable change in the features of the physician.

...Mr. Utterson at last turned and looked at his companion. They were both pale; and there was an answering horror in their eyes. 

In Chapter 8, Jekyll's manservant Poole seeks the help of the lawyer Mr. Utterson, whom he leads to the cabinet door of Jekyll's laboratory. The man within, Poole contends, is not his master. He is shorter, more of a "dwarf' and his face appears masked. It takes more and more of the potion for Jekyll to return himself to normal. For, Hyde is pure evil, but Jekyll is both evil and good mixed together. Thus, since there is less in Jekyll that is good than what is evil, it becomes easy for evil to supersede good.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on