Repressed Personality and Sexual Subtleties in Robert Louis Stevenson Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
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Repressed Personality and Sexual Subtleties in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Tragedies of repression
In the reference book Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia Stevenson is noted for saying that "fiction should render the truths that make life significant" (760). We see this most closely in his Jekyll/Hyde experiment when Jekyll explains why he invented his infamous potion. Jekyll says: "I concealed my pleasures; and when I reached years of reflection...I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life" (Stevenson, 42). Because of this feeling of being one thing in the public's eye, well respected and controlled, and another on his own, Hyde invents an outlet. This outlet becomes, at least symbolically, a representation of male hysteria, a psychological disorder stereotypically associated with women. Jekyll says "my two natures had memory in common" (48). Thus, Hyde is free to express his base and immoral self without conscience while Jekyll is voyeuristically allowed to watch without regret since the actions are not his own, but a different entities altogether. Jekyll is described crying like a woman behind closed doors because Hyde has become the dominant personality (Showalter, 114).
Stevenson's narrative reflects some of the effects of socialization and their influence on the repression of certain forms of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, which we will explore a little later. Jekyll begins waking as Hyde, suggesting that when his social controls are weakest, Hyde is free to come out. The story dramatizes social norms, the search to deviate from them, and rid oneself of responsibility for one's actions that go against these norms. As Jekyll gets used to becoming Hyde, the socialized and repressed Je...
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...nd abnormal for their feelings. This is quite different than facing explicitly one's repressed feelings or sexualilty, which the public often reacts violently against.
Showalter, Elaine."Dr. Jekyll's Closet." Sexual Anarchy: New York: Penguin Books,1990. 105-126.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Dover Publishing, Inc., 1991.
Waters, Chris. "Robert Louis Stevenson". Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia. Sally Mitchell and Michael J. Herr. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc, 1988. 760-761.
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