Topic: SociologyIdentity

Last updated: March 3, 2019

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde took place in Victorian era, when

middle-class people were expected to follow the strict codes of society in order to

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keep good public images. Jekyll and Hyde are good examples for showing how the

Victorian society determines a person’s quality based on its own codes. Through

Jekyll and Hyde, we are able to see the differences between a so-called properly

behaved Victorian gentleman and a man who is considered to be beast because

his misbehaviors is against the Victorian social values.

The most obvious difference between Jekyll and Hyde is their appearances,

Jekyll is described to be tall and good- looking, with his face being shaved and clean”

a large, well-made, smooth faced man of fifty, something of a slyish cast perhaps, but

every mark of a capacity and kindness” (Stevenson, 1886, p. 1686). On contrary,

Hyde’s appearance is described to be more like a beast than a human being” God

bless me, the man seems hardly human.” (Stevenson, 1886, p.1685) Hyde is also

short, deformed, horrifying and hairy,” there is something wrong with his

appearance, something displeasing, something downright detestable.” (Stevenson,

1886, p.1680)

The key differences between Jekyll and Hyde is the attitude toward facing the

hypocrisy of Victorian society. Jekyll is a typical Victorian gentleman, he represents

the public self, who always repress his inner desire and follows the strict rules of

Victorian society so as to keep his honorable images. On the other hand, Hyde is

completely the opposite, he represents the private self of Dr. Jekyll, who is careless

about the codes and his own public images, Hyde is anti- social, who always

behaves against the social values.” Through Hyde, the respectable Dr Jekyll is freed

from the restraints imposed by society” (Buzwell, 2014)

The other important difference between Jekyll and Hyde is their personality, Dr.

Jekyll possesses two selves, the good self and the lurking evil self. The good self of

him, Jekyll, is good-tempered man with a charitable heart, a doctor who devotes

himself in healing and helping others, while Hyde is bad- tempered, he easily

lose control of himself and finds pleasure in committing violence on others. For

example, Hyde tramples an innocent girl and beat an old man to death without

showing any sympathy on them. As Mr. Utterson describe Hyde to be” O my poor old

Henry Jekyll, if I ever read Satan’s signature on one’s face, it is on that of your new

friend.” (Stevenson, 1886, p.1685)

The other difference between Jekyll and Hyde is their social status, the author

implies it by providing them the different settings in the places they live and the

doors they leave from. Jekyll’s dwelling contains luxurious hall with warm fires and

expensive furniture, which “wore a great air of wealth and comfort” (Stevenson,

1886, p.1685), and the door which Jekyll leaves from lead to a street that is

surrounded by ancient buildings. While the place where Hyde lives is described to be

filthy, shabby, with clothes and ashes all over the floor, and the door that Hyde leaves

from lead to a street that is…..

In conclusion, Jekyll is a typical Victorian gentleman, an upper-class man who is

handsome, properly- behaved with good manners and kindness, a man who follows

the rules and represses himself to maintain good public images. Unlike Jekyll, Hyde is

a lower-class people, who is horrifying, brutal, beast- like, a man who shows no

interest in following any rules of society and beholds nothing but evilness.

By contrasting the differences between Jekyll and Hyde, we not only can see the

duality of human, but also the importance of being a properly- behaved people in the

Victorian society. Moreover, we are able to see how the great stress of living in a

hypocritic Victorian society forces people to find an escape through creating another

identity, which finally lead to self- destruction that turns a decent gentleman into a

beast, “my devil had been long caged, he came out roaring”.(p1715)


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