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 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 a clean and shaved face “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 alsoshort, 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 iscompletely the opposite, he represents the private self of Dr. Jekyll, who is careless about the codes and his own public images. Hyde is also 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. Forexample, 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 clean street that is surrounded by pretty ancient buildings, which seems to inhabit honorable people.While the place where Hyde lives is described to be filthy, shabby, with clothes and ashes all over the floor. Moreover, the door that Hyde leaves from lead to a street described to be ” the dismal Soho seen under this changing glimpses, with its muddy ways, and slatternly passengers”(Stevenson, 1886, p1689)In conclusion, Jekyll is a typical Victorian gentleman, an middle-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, just as Jekyll suggest “my devil had been long caged, he came out roaring”.(p1715)