The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde Essay

The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde Essay

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“Man is not truly one, but truly two”. Stevenson’s novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, addresses late Victorian anxieties and theories regarding psychology. Gall’s theories of lateralization, as well as the inklings of psychoanalysis, were beginning to emerge, bringing their influence into literature. The intrapsychic processes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde illustrate an evident duality of persona throughout the novella, which was an evolving thought in the study of psychology at the time. The binate facets of the self are portrayed through recount of action and character description, and exist in the novella to exemplify the marred and non-equipotent nature of humanity as a whole. Dr. Jekyll embodies a caricature of a well respected man in society. He has an established career and has acquired seemingly zero enemies. However, Jekyll’s analogous guise, Mr. Hyde, is a fearsome, primitive, and wholly animalistic being. Together, the two make a whole; one cannot live without the other. Thus, Stevenson is suggesting that good cannot exist without bad, and bad cannot exist without good. His meticulous construction of the novella’s main character inaugurates that human nature itself is dualistic, and even every day man has composite parts within himself.
Stevenson’s portrayal of two separate personalities can be seen as a parallel to Gall’s theory of the double brain. The localizationist theory, a forerunner of psychological theories at the time, focused on “how mental activities (or cognitive processes) are organized in the brain” (Zola-Morgan 360). It was suggested that “each brain hemisphere might house a separate personality, … a separate soul” (Stiles 882). From the standpoint of late Victorian psychology, it was fr...


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... or unconsciously, repress his Hyde personality by not allowing him to come out to play that night; however, Hyde appears regardless, illustrating that the dark and unconscious component of human nature cannot be inhibited. Furthermore, Freud claimed that “all dreams were wish fulfillments” (Kitcher 118), leading one to interpret that Jekyll’s nighttime regression into Hyde was but a fulfillment of his innermost desires. As respectable in society as he may be, Jekyll wants to be as free and impetuous as Hyde can be.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde clearly exhibit the late Victorian notions of a dualistic human nature and lateralized brain function. Stevenson’s careful structure of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde communicate emerging, and rather detailed, ideas about the human psyche and mankind as a whole, leaving us with a crucial question: Who exactly are we?

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