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.



2 thoughts on “Jekyll and Hyde, on being the same person and split personalities

  1. Your ideas on the transformation of the split personality over time are really interesting!
    It’s true, that while in this story it is seen as a disaster, today we have a number of superheroes who are actually quite similar in nature to the way Jekyll and Hyde work. Take The Hulk for example. What is he if not a cooler version of Hyde? Somehow I still think that it is because we as people like to separate ourselves into ideas of good and evil, and we did even before the story of Jekyll and Hyde. While Stevenson warns against duality, superheroes feed our obsession with it.

  2. I liked your post buddy. I agree that Jekyll is just as much at fault as Hyde is, because they are in reality just two parts of a whole. Also, Jekyll had full control over initially transforming into Hyde, because he liked the feeling of having no morals or feelings of guilt for his actions. As Jekyll he lived his life with repressed desires and a guilty conscience, and creating Hyde was his way of escaping that.

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