The complex nature of man always involves some sort of duality between good and evil. That is the main theme/idea that the book The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr.Hyde discusses, along with Sigmund Freud’s The Uncanny. Even the illustration in this essay represent the duality of man. The good and the evil, on one side lies a man with no angry remarks on his face, nor any chains. The other side represents the evil; a man chained up with a hateful expression. This essay will explore how The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, including The Uncanny, along with this image show examples of man’s duality.
The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde revolves around Dr. Jekyll and his friends. One day Dr.Jekyll creates a potion that allows him to unleash his primal alter ego Mr. Hyde. Chaos ensues as Mr. Hyde takes to the streets and causes mayhem around London. From trampling a girl to beating a man to death, Mr. Hyde seems to have Dr. Jekyll’s friends concerned. Dr. Jekyll reveals his friends that he is trying to get rid of Mr. Hyde, only to wind up truly revealing they are both the same person.
Dr. Jekyll mentions his struggles with addiction in regards to becoming Mr. Hyde. For example, Mr. Utterson a friend of Dr. Jekyll visits Dr. Jekyll and speaks to him about Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde thanks his friend, “My good Utterson,’ said the doctor, ‘this is very good of you, this is downright good of you, I cannot find words to thank you in. I believe fully; I would trust you before any man alive, ay, before myself, if I could not make the choice; but indeed it isn’t what you fancy; it is not so bad as that; and just to put your good heart at rest, I will tell you one thing: the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde. I give you my hand upon that; and I thank you again and again; and I will just add one little word, Utterson, that I’m sure you’ll take in good part: this is a private matter, and I beg you to let it sleep.’” (Stevenson, Louis, Robert, Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde). Upon analysis of this statement Jekyll makes to his friend he seems to feel as though he has a grasp with My. Hyde. Until the wording reveals that he himself is struggling to deal with Mr. Hyde. By saying “the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde.” and, “this is a private matter, and I beg you to let it sleep.” give a sense of worry that Dr. Jekyll is facing. On one hand he is confident about getting rid of Mr. Hyde, on the other he is afraid to bring his friends into the matter, he knows as Mr. Hyde he can cause them harm if something goes afoul. This is an example of how Dr. Jekyll is struggling with the duality of nature within man.
Another example is when Dr. Jekyll has his full statement written down in regards to transforming into Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll admits that man has duality within themselves, something that purely evil that they keep locked away. Meanwhile, the person on the outside is usually the virtuous kind who tries to do the right things in life. For example, “With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one but two.” (Stevenson, Louis, Robert Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde).
We can tell due to unleashing Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll has discovered that man has a dual nature within themselves. Mr. Hyde is simply a personification of Dr. Jekyll’s evil nature, which explains why he kills a man within the book and tramples a little girl. Lastly, Dr. Jekyll also says this, “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, Louis, Robert Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde).
Dr. Jekyll mentions how he takes a potion to become Mr. Hyde, and by doing so he awakes the duality within him. For example, “The drug had no discriminating action, it was neither diabolical nor divine; it but shook the doors of the prisonhouse of my disposition; and, like the captives of Phillippi, that which stood within ran forth.” (Stevenson, Louis, Robert, Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde). Unleashing Mr. Hyde was Dr. Jekyll’s way of freeing the evil that laid within him. As Mr. Hyde he can commit any crime and be free to do anything deemed irrational by society. Which is something Dr. Jekyll a man of prestige amongst society and his friends can not commit to doing. Which is why he uses Mr. Hyde as an outlet, for releasing his inner thoughts of evil and frustrations. These are examples of how The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde touches upon the duality of man in nature.
The Uncanny by Sigmund Freud focuses on what is considered “uncanny” in other words what is scary or out of place. While at the same time Freud examines the works of other scholars and their interpretation on the “uncanny”. Freud also manages to look at different languages for their interpretation of the word “uncanny” as evidence as to what the “uncanny” could possibly mean/be. For example, “In his study of the ‘uncanny’ Jentsch quite rightly lays stress on the obstacle presented by the fact that people vary so greatly in their sensitivity to this quality of feeling.”
In order for us to fully grasp what this quote is saying we must look back to what Freud thinks uncanny means. According to Sigmund Freud, “The subject of the ‘uncanny’ is a province of this kind. It is undoubtedly related to what is frightening-to what arouses dread and horror, equally certainly, too.” (Darwin, Charles, The “Uncanny”?) So, pretty much the word “uncanny” relates to something that arouses dread and fear. By using the definition of the word uncanny, we can truly see what Freud, along with other scholars mean when they use the word uncanny.
Another quote to involve some sort duality within the nature of man, “It is long since he has experienced or heard of anything which has given him an uncanny impression, and he must start by translating himself into that state of feeling, by awakening in himself the possibility of experiencing it.” (Darwin, Charles, The “Uncanny”?). This quote can get linked to The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde in regards to Dr. Jekyll transforming into Mr. Hyde. As well as the theme of this essay which is the duality of the nature of man. In order for Dr. Jekyll to fulfill his uncanny feelings that were barking at him internally, he must transform into Mr. Hyde. By transforming into Mr. Hyde he is able to freely commit any desire his feelings of uncanniness call for.
In regards to the image at the front of this essay, the two men which lay at either side of a pillar. The person on the left clearly being the “normal” one, the one of the right is fulfilling his uncanny nature. We can see so by how the man on the right has shackles and chains which dangle around his wrists. The angry look on his face exclaims how much of a danger he is, to both himself and society. These two men, are in a sense Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego Mr. Hyde if they were separated from each other. Dr. Jekyll, the famous doctor with a huge cast of friends is very well respected. Especially by his friends, the book even mentions they take days off to spend time with him and other friends. Mr. Hyde of the other hand is shown to be a menace, he is being hunted by Dr. Jekyll’s friend Mr. Utterson. This is how the statue relates to The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.
Another person could even say the two statues actually represent the duality of good vs evil within man. Especially if you use the examples from The “Uncanny” by Sigmund Freud. In order for someone to adapt and change to the uncanny nature within themselves they must first participate in any kind of acts that are deemed “uncanny”. That can be anything from committing various crimes, robbing, raping, murder, and other acts of terror society deems unfit. Or, at least according to Mr. Hyde beating a man to death and trampling a little girl who was a prostitute.
In conclusion, the complex nature of man always involves some sort of duality within man. From the two statues within image which represent good and evil. To The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde which also represents the duality of man. A man who loses himself to his darker, uncanny side. A man who transforms into the evil Mr. Hyde and tramples little girls and beats men to death. At the same time Freud’s The “Uncanny” depicts how the average person deals with this duality of uncanny nature within themselves. So yes, overall people face a duality of good vs evil within themselves. It’s just how they present themselves and deal with their nature that sets them apart from what is considered “uncanny” by society’s standards.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: and Other Stories. Coward-McCann, 1960.
Freud, Sigmund. “The ‘Uncanny.’” The “Uncanny”, pp. 929–934.
“Image Gallery: Print.” British Museum, www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?assetId=652971001&objectId=3085102&partId=1.