Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (from now on DJMH for short) was quite a relief to read. After somehow managing to power through Rousseau and Nietzsche, a classic tale like DJMH was relaxing and definitely did me some good. Yet obviously, like all good things, there was something that bothered me about DJMH. It’s the incredibly nosy Mr. Utterson. Now it’s not to be rude to Mr. Utterson, but Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s personal life is not his business! Perhaps another thing that bothered me about this book is the large amount of secrecy throughout it. I wanted to constantly be able to hear every character’s thoughts. I was intrigued to see everyone’s motivations, especially Jekyll/Hyde’s in depth.

I like how Jekyll and Hyde both had their places, which slowly changed throughout the book. What I mean by places is how at the start, Hyde is constantly ramping through the streets, free of worry until he trampled a girl and beat a man. During all of this Jekyll was almost always reserved and in his room. But as the search for Hyde grows, it is he who becomes more reclusive, hidden from the streets, whereas Jekyll is now more active and outside free to roam the streets and correct whatever deeds Hyde committed in the past.

Other than a few very insignificant complaints, DJMH was very enjoyable. I really liked how Dr. Jekyll seemed like a bit of an unlikely tragic hero. His hamartia (tragic flaw) is his want to transform himself and free his good and evil sides, yet the dark side ends up taking over. This is a story where the hero is defeated, by himself… Maybe it’s supposed to say something about us as people, that somethimes we’re not always able to be the best person. Sometimes our darker side manages to take over, and in Jekyll’s/Hyde’s case it leads to the protagonist (and maybe even the antagonist’s) death.

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Jekyll & Hyde

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (from now on DJMH for short) was quite a relief to read. After somehow managing to power through Rousseau and Nietzsche, a classic tale like DJMH was relaxing and definitely did me some good. Yet obviously, like all good things, there was something that bothered me about DJMH. It’s the incredibly nosy Mr. Utterson. Now it’s not to be rude to Mr. Utterson, but Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s personal life is not his business! Perhaps another thing that bothered me about this book is the large amount of secrecy throughout it.

While I understand that the secrecy and mystery is what makes this book so enjoyable to read, but what I would give for another version written by Robert Louis Stevenson completely in the perspective of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. We would get to see the inside of a character who is definitely having some identity crisis problems, and we would get to see details into the way Jekyll/Hyde live and interact with their own thoughts and actions. Like Caroline mentioned in the lecture, who really wrote the check? It seems like that scene, in the perspective of Jekyll/Hyde would be amazing, as we’d get to see the tension behind the situation, and we’d get to see who made the call of writing the check (whether there was any [internal] disagreement), and who ultimately truly wrote the check out.

Other than these two very insignificant complaints, DJMH was very enjoyable. I really liked how Dr. Jekyll seemed like a bit of an unlikely tragic hero. His hamartia (tragic flaw) is his want to transform himself and free his good and evil sides, yet the dark side ends up taking over. This is a story where the hero is defeated, by himself… Maybe it’s supposed to say something about us as people, that somethimes we’re not always able to be the best person. Sometimes our darker side manages to take over, and in Jekyll’s/Hyde’s case it leads to the protagonist (and maybe even the antagonist’s) death.

Jekyll and Hyde: A Fractured Whole

It always seems like a bit of a cop-out to say how much I “liked” the book at the beginning of a post like this. But I really have to do it this time. I think, for some strange reason, this is my favorite story of all we’ve read so far. I’ll try to analyse this adoration, and hopefully in doing so make a blog post worthy of reading.

Duality is, to me, one of the most interesting ideas in the world. We as people have always liked to separate things into readable segments. Deconstruction for the sake of simplicity, if you will. Racism, Sexism, Violence and a whole bunch of nasty things seem a lot of the time from the idea of “parts”. There is this part, and it is good. There is this part, and that is bad. There is the part of politics that involves economy, and the part that involves environment. You are in charge of that part, he is in charge of that part, etc, etc. I’m not sure if things would be better or worse if we thought of these parts as a whole, but it would sure be different. That’s what religion does in a way, is make all these separate parts a whole. I’m fairly atheist at this point in my life, but I think that seeing things as a whole is a far more accurate view of people, and of the world. For example, economy and environment exist together, look after the environment, over time the economy will also change. This might sound like a rant a bit, but this is whole idea of a fractured whole is something that really fits into Jekyll and Hyde, and is why I can really ascribe to the idea that Stevenson is writing about the mix of good and evil in a person as a whole, rather than just the two parts as separate entities.Yes there is duality, but it is unnatural duality. It only shows us what is inside anyway.  I think Stevenson might be saying that by forcing ourselves (all of society) to separate ourselves into good and evil we are causing ourselves more harm than if we just accepted both natures as a whole identity.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the ideas of repression, and the way that leads into the sexuality of the characters. This novella is burgeoning with repressed ideas I think. One of the reasons it was so popular might for that very reason. We need a literary or media related way to deal with repressed thoughts and feelings, and  that is precisely what hide is. He is a walking bundle of human repressed thoughts. This is sort of a cynical view, that we as humans are all walking around hiding dark, malignant, malicious thoughts, and that definitely may be, but I think it’s interesting that by reading into a story like this in such a number of different ways we are still really just realizing our own perceptions and repressions. Good job Stevenson.

Rad!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Response

Soooo.. not sure about anyone else, but I was ecstatic to finally read a text that was not written by a philosopher. After many weeks of focusing on philosophical texts, reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was definitely a healthy alternative. Now prior to reading this text, I have heard quite about it. I always knew the basic concept of the story, with the split personalities, but reading this piece was long over due for me. I thought it was really interesting, and the huge contrast between both personalities just kept me glued to my book.

I’d say that perhaps one of the main things that I particularly enjoyed about this book, were the two characters (well, one technically).  Before actually reading this story, the only “split” personalities I’ve ever really been familiar with are the ones we see in graphic novels. Spiderman and Peter Parker, Iron Man and Tony Stark… a seemingly normal individual with a completely, contrasting, alternate life. And this is basically the same case with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This duality portrays the battle between an age-old debate: good and evil. It shows how balancing both and trying to keep up with both immensely contrasting views can work for a while but in the end, one side will prevail. Now I obviously wasn’t shocked upon reading that the seemingly harmless Dr. Jekyll exhibits satanic and monstrous traits. However, in spite of his character being an obvious one to every reader, reading this text made me dig deeper and ponder what I believe is one of the underlying messages from Stevenson. The emphasis on dual personalities tells the reader of the evils that lie within each of us. That malevolent voice that lurks within our souls, which at sometimes, and in some instances, prevails over the good in us. That temptation, that desire to give in…. and the man who is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde exposes this struggle to us.

Anyways, in a nutshell, I found Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to be both a (very very) refreshing as well as enticing read. I completely loved the whole thing and it shined light on a disorder that people struggle with in reality as well. By reading this, I got a better understanding of just how problematic and serious of a condition this is as well. Reading Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde reveals to us, that without a strong sense of will and self-assurance and strength, we have the potential to easily give in to negative influences. But yeah… Can’t wait to hear what everyone else thinks tomorrow!

 

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Thoughts on the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

I have already seen 1, if not 2, remakes of this classic story. So unfortunately I already had a pretty good idea of what to expect. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy reading the story though. The remakes that I saw were modernized and made to be much more thrilling than the original, which happens with most stories-turned-movies.

I wrote a paper in High School about dissociative identity disorder, and it seems like a particularly scary and uncontrollable issue. Where-as in this story Dr. Jekyll is able to control his transformations to a degree using a potion. I’ve always been curious how the legal justice system treats murder cases involving attackers claiming to suffer from dissociative identity disorder. I’d assume that they would test their sincerity as much as possible, and potentially place them in a mental facility.

I also found it hard to believe that Utterson was able to hold off from curiosity and wait until after Jekyll’s death to read the letter than was given to him by Lanyon. Also, while I understand that Lanyon was likely terrified watching a physical transformation take place in front of his eyes, it seems like dying of shock and terror is an exaggerated response…

I’m looking forward to more deeply investigating the story with our class, and I definitely enjoyed having this book on the reading list.

 

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Jekyll-Jekyll-Hyde-Jekyll-Hyde-Jekyll-Hyde!

My experience with the story of Jekyll and Hyde before reading the book (or, novella, I suppose? It’s so short!) had been quite limited. Everyone knows the vague story of course, as with Frankenstein, as it’s referenced frequently. Prominently, I remember a song from the kids show “Arthur” that was pretty great, and the basis for the title of this post. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiB4dMwDFtg). But I had no knowledge on how the story was originally written, which is why I was surprised that the protagonist was not Dr. Jekyll, but more Mr. Utterson.

I was expecting the story to be told from the point of view of Jekyll and Hyde, and was at first slightly confused with who this Mr. Utterson was, and what his significance was. But it quickly started to make sense as I realized this is a sort of mystery novel, and Mr. Utterson is our curious detective. Unfortunately, there was really no “puzzle-piecing” to be done by us, the reader, as we all knew the plot twist before we even opened the book. However, despite being cheated out of surprize, it was still a good read. Not fantastic, but good. I guess I just didn’t find any of it particularly exciting or captivating. It was good, don’t get me wrong (side note: you’d be hard pressed to find a text in this reading list that I strongly dislike.) but it didn’t inspire any particularly strong feelings in me. Though I did feel significant disbelief that Utterson doesn’t read the letter given to him Layton right away. How could he have so much control of his curiosity? What kind of make-shift detective doesn’t investigate all the clues? The lesson to be learned here is that lawyers make bad detectives. But, somehow he doesn’t read the letter until Jekyll really is dead. I was also quite confused by Dr. Layton’s death. He sees the transformation of Hyde to Jekyll, has some kind of break down, and soon dies…? I mean, I’m sure it wasn’t a pretty sight, and I’m sure the knowledge would be quite traumatizing, but he really just dies? And doesn’t tell anyone what he saw?  I was a tad perplexed by that. But, my complaints aside, the issue of Dr. Jekyll’s personality spit was quite intriguing, and I’m looking forward to the monster discussion that may occur. Is Dr. Jekyll a monster as well as Mr. Hyde? Jekyll is the one who “creates” Mr. Hyde, by bringing him out from within himself. And yet, Jekyll is still a “good person” and doesn’t do anything terribly atrocious beyond creating Hyde. I have to say, it was nice to have a monster who was quite evil for the sake of being evil. He wasn’t mistreated by society and as a result becomes cruel and unfeeling. From the moment Hyde emerges from Jekyll his purpose is really solely to be destructive, let out steam. Looking forward to seeing how this is discussed in the lecture, see you all there!

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Jekyll and Hyde, on being the same person and split personalities

Iconic and very well known, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of the best known books of english literature.  Having read the book before and studied it, I do have an idea of what it entails and re-reading it was a little boring since I knew what was going to happen, thus the suspense was gone. Moreover, Stevenson’s writing style bored me and I didn’t like how I saw the whole case only through Utterson’s eyes.  It was as if I was distanced, unable to see deeply into Hyde or Jekyll.

Now why do I think I was distanced from Hyde and Jekyll?  This partly came from a black and white movie interpretation of J and H, in which the Point of View was from Hyde and Jekyll, this allowed me to sympathize with the characters better.  Still, Jekyll’s final account as harrowing and drew some sympathy from me.  The poor discontented doctor who brought the monster out of himself… but this made me think of something rather disturbing, isn’t Hyde the same person as Jekyll?

Hyde never surfaced until Jekyll took the potion to bring out Hyde.  That is true.  However, Jekyll himself has admitted that Hyde is a part of his personality.  A separate personality, which is accompanied by a physical change, that is true, but don’t they inhabit the same body?  I mean… Jekyll, is as much to blame as is Hyde for the murders.  If he had not taken the potion, nothing would have happened.  He would have been discontented, but in my view, Jekyll is as much as to fault for as is Hyde.

But moving on, what I am most intrigued by is the evolution of the concept of a split personality.  Robert Louis Stevenson was probably the first to think of this novel concept and transform it into a horror story.  At that time, it was so horrifying, I believe it is said that Stevenson rewrote it because the publishers were so scared.  Nowadays, the concept of a split or hidden personality, has been made funny.  We see multiple funny split personalities on screen and we don’t find it scary, in fact we find it hilarious.  Various characters in Naruto, Harvey Two-Face from Batman, The Mask.  They’re bloody hilarious and if you think about it, many heroes have a sort of hidden personality.  Bruce Wayne and Batman, Clark Kent and Superman, they’re heroes that have two personalities, a fake and a real.  A little different from Jekyll and Hyde, but similar in that they show two faces to the public.

Yet, the concept of the split-personality can be still horrifying, The Hulk and Dr. Banner being one of the more dangerous and eerily similar ones to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Such is the power of when a hidden face is revealed.

Vincent

 

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Breaking Apart?

To be honest, I was considerably bored with Jekyll and Hyde until page 45 of this 61 page story. However, after page 45 I found the “mystery” more engaging. The exploration of “the two parts” presented in this book wasn’t my favorite (by far), but I do appreciate it. I’m also starting to appreciate the blogs more as well now. Thanks to Kyle’s blog, I understand the framing/narration aspect much better now having a new perspective. So I shall wait to make a decision about the book until after the lecture and seminars. Alas, here are some of the thoughts this book left me with:

Even when taking the mixture, Jekyll never “looses” or disassociates himself from Hyde completely; he always knows that Hyde exists and is still a part of him. The penman-ship of Jekyll and Hyde is an interesting aspect. Hyde has pretty much identical hand writing to Jekyll, or is it the other way around? How can you determine whose handwriting it is, if both parts were once one, but this one physical attribute appears to be one of the only remaining aspects of Jekyll’s being.  Is the cause of Jekyll’s “fall/death” because remnants of the evil that thrive in Hyde, are still present in Jekyll, so he still does not consist of “one pure and one evil” portion, but one evil and one contaminated portion?

But at the same time as Jekyll recognizes his “attachment” with Hyde, he also kind of denounces it as once being a part of him that changes to something completely other. At the beginning of his experiences as Hyde, he completely embraces both personalities and even works to remedy the conscience of the other. However, as he loses his ability of voluntary change, I understood him to recognize Hyde as Satan due to his visit with Lanyon when he says “your sight shall be blasted by a prodigy to stagger the unbelief of Satan”(p.46). This makes me wonder if Jekyll began to see  Hyde as a creature that was no longer just himself, but proof that Satan does exist. This reminds me of exorcisms and an attempt to “rid the body of the evil being residing within”. I wonder if this is story is merely a spin off of old tales of evil spirits, as an explanation for them. It is almost as if Stevenson is trying to say that we all have “Satan” already living within us, and all that is needed is a catalyst for our own form of Satan to appear.

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D.J. and M.H.

Ah…duality; it gets me every time. Stevenson wrote this book on the basis that every human has two sides to them (Good and Evil), and it’s certainly an interesting contrast to texts from Freud, Nietzsche, Hobbes, and Rousseau (well, maybe not Rousseau). The syntax and vocabulary are okay, the pacing is horrendous, the main plot device ridiculous, and the climax is more of an anticlimax than anything. Maybe it’s because I had an idea of the plot beforehand, but I doubt that Stevenson was trying very hard to keep us from guessing the twist (the title makes it pretty obvious). So…with that said, how am I going to fill the rest of this blog? Hmm…

 

Society, as Freud, Hobbes, Rousseau, and probably Nietzsche says, is a restraint of natural freedoms. We allow ourselves to be constrained under laws and customs, depriving ourselves of much as a result. The two payoffs for this, however, are significant: in exchange for our freedom, we gain security and the ascetic ideal of morality. The first is a strong shelter that gives us the confidence to go about our lives in a way that would be impossible in an openly hostile environment, while the second is a source of pleasure and contentment that can only be achieved in a commonwealth. For Dr. Jekyll, however, these two benefits are not enough. He is a prominent man—strong, smart, wealthy—and has grown up in such a way that his fear of losing security has weakened. He takes pleasure in the ascetic ideal, but that pleasure is no longer enough. He needs something else, and yet, he also wants to keep what he already has. Sound selfish? It most certainly is—and he pays the price for that selfishness in the end. Putting that aside for now, though, what drives him to take such a suspicious drug? Couldn’t he just wear a trench coat or something and do his “bad” things under cover of darkness? No, he can’t…because then, he would lose his ascetic ideal. He would know that it is “him” doing the bad things, not the “other guy” who is undoubtedly also him but is not identified as him. He wants the best of both worlds without the consequences of either, and it is this denial of responsibility that ultimately leads to his downfall. Because Jekyll and Hyde are essentially the same person, it’s only natural that the boundary between them isn’t absolute (the boundary between Good and Evil is hardly absolute either). A reversal occurs in which Hyde becomes the undrugged form and Jekyll the drugged one, resulting in a fitting and cliché end to a moral tale. What’s interesting, however, is that there is an appearance of different personalities associated with the change in form. Is this true? Does the drug really create this “Hyde” persona, or does it, in fact, only facilitate a biological shift in its user? Is not “Hyde,” then, just a figment of the imagination? Does Jekyll have a split personality disorder? Who, in the end, was the one that committed suicide? 

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has become one of those iconic works that stain the imagination of every individual. Like Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll’s chilling transformations into his malicious alter ego are so engrained in popular culture, that it is not uncommon to hear the characters’ names used in common, everyday speech. Aside from Kafka, this text was one that I was greatly looking forward to working with, simply because it is a work that stuck with me throughout my childhood.

The story delves into some very disturbing ideas regarding our own psychological traits. The complete demonization of seemingly innocent Dr. Jekyll demonstrates a certain monstrosity within each of us. Through simple experimentation, Jekyll releases a beast within him that he realizes will take on a life of its own. How horrifying is it that this beast is lurking within such a humdrum, average individual? This suggests that there is an innate evil within each one of us, just waiting to be released from the prison of our morality. As well, we can see in Jekyll the constraint society places on the individual. Societal norms and our own vanity prevent the majority of us from unleashing our own Mr. Hyde. After all, it was under the cover of secrecy that Jekyll’s Hyde committed these treacherous acts, and the doctor felt contented in knowing that no one would ever discover his dirty little secret. Despite the complaints of Rousseau regarding the negativity of society, this work demonstrates Hobbes’ theory, in that society restrains the beast as we conform to societal ideals. If we were all in a state of nature where no one cared at all about public appearance, then who’s to say that we woudn’t act like Mr. Hyde, contented by the facade we put up.

I completely loved every moment of this book. It dealt with real psychological issues regarding an innate evil within each of us, just waiting to be unleashed. It also demonstrated how, without a strong sense of self, our evil nature can possess and override all emotion, thrusting us into the pits of darkness and despair. How do we not know that our own Mr. Hyde’s are not simply waiting within, lusting after the moment when they can break free of their moral prison and fullfill the evil desires of their hearts?

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