Good vs Evil
By: Camila Del Olmo-Colon
In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson explores the topic of duality in humans, by suggesting that everyone has a good and evil side. This book was written in 1886 and is still one of the most famous pieces of gothic literature. During the 19th century scientific discoveries were being made and crimes that influenced the novella also occurred. Jack the Ripper is an infamous, unidentified serial killer who killed 5 female prostitutes in 1888. Also, around the same time, two men named William Burke and William Hare, robbed bodies from graves and also went as far as murdering to sell cadavers to an anatomist. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is about a man named Dr. Henry Jekyll who has a will that says that all of his things should go to a man named Mr. Edward Hyde. Mr. Utterson is worried about Jekyll being blackmailed so he decides to find out more about Hyde. Near the end of the book the reader finds out that Hyde is actually one of Jekyll’s science experiments and they are the same person…
The first person introduced in the story of Jekyll and Hyde is John Gabriel Utterson. He is a well known lawyer but he is known for being “austere with himself” (Stevenson 9). Since he is so strict with himself, he sometimes is sort of jealous of people who do bad things as shown in the following quote, “But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in misdeeds” (Stevenson 9). This quote proves that Mr. Utterson may sometimes fantasise of being able to do these misdeeds. A man named Mr. Enfield tells Utterson a story about Hyde. Utterson becomes very intrigued so he stalks Hyde and wants to know more about who this man is. Utterson does this because it is his chance to get a glimpse of the misdeeds he envies.
In Mr. Enfield’s story an ugly and small man, named Edward Hyde, tramples over a girl. In order to pay the family back, he uses a check. But the check has another name, Henry Jekyll. (Stevenson 11). Throughout the story the reader learns more about Jekyll and Hyde and how one is good while the other is evil. Jekyll is a doctor who lives in a very nice home, while Hyde lives in Jekyll’s old dissecting lab. In chapter 4, on page 28, Hyde kills Mr. Carew, a well known member of parliament. The last chapter of the book is a letter from Jekyll to Utterson and he says “This, as I take it, was because all human beings, as we meet them are commingled out of good and evil; and Edward Hyde, alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil” (Stevenson 62). The quote shows that Jekyll knows that Hyde is an evil man but not only is he evil, Hyde is HIS evil side.
Although Hyde is Jekyll’s “evil” side, he may not actually be the evil one. Jekyll makes the potion so that he can separate his good and evil side. Jekyll enjoys drinking the potion and continues drinking it even though he knows he will be pure evil; he is well aware that while he is Hyde he can to the most awful things (Stevenson 61). Since Hyde is Jekyll’s evil side, all of the bad things Hyde does are actually what Jekyll wishes he could do. But he can not do them because he can not ruin his reputation.
Duality in humans comes up throughout the entire novella in different characters. It is shown in Mr. Utterson when he decides to involve himself if Jekyll’s secret. Also, duality in human is shown in Dr. Jekyll when he chooses to bring out his evil side. No matter how hard someone tries, they can never be completely rid of the evil within them.