Dr. Jekyll and the Emergence of Mr. Hyde written by Masao Miyoshi is a description of the gothic influence on the classic Victorian novel by R. L. Stevenson.
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The article is an analysis of the novel as well as an attempt to understand the moral dualism and paradox that haunted the men of the Victorian period to establish a self that wants to transcend the strong hold on self-expression in social and personal life. This results in creation of the “unhappy double self” in Stevenson’s story.
This essay deconstructs the ideas of Victorian dualism presented by Miyoshi in his article Dr. Jekyll and the Emergence of Mr. Hyde.
The title of the article presented by Miyoshi presents his idea of the divided self. Miyoshi believes that Hyde was an inner most desire of Dr. Jekyll and therefore cannot be treated as a separate person.
Jekyll and Hyde are two identities of the same person that is reflected in the title “the Emergence of Mr. Hyde” from within Dr. Jekyll. As Miyoshi points out that Mr. Hyde was a “vehicle” for the “strong sense of man’s double being”.
Miyoshi presents the thesis that Stevenson recaptures the dualism presented in Gothic romances in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Miyoshi points out that the novel should not be “dismissed as crude science fiction or cruder moral allegory”.
However, Miyoshi believes, as is presented in his thesis, that the novel was actually an attempt to demonstrate the psychological dualism existent in the Victorian era:
In would like to think that… Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may be read and studied as a story of ideas, that will by this means yield insights into certain aspects of the late Victorian society that was its milieu, and that it will finally suggest something of the literary tradition which fathered it.
This idea of the social ideals of the Victorian era and literature being reinstated in Stevenson’s work is reiterated in the conclusion of Miyoshi’s article where he points out that book in reality is a “vision” of the late-Victorian “wasteland” to remove all Hyde-like elements from the society to establish “an honorable public life and a joyful private one.”
Clearly, Miyoshi belongs to the school of thought that believes that the Victorian literature was a reincarnation of the Gothic themes and psychological duality. He believes that the literary creation of Stevenson was influenced not by his personal biography but by societal constructs.
The other scholarly references made in the article are that by Chesterton and Malcolm Elwin . Chesterton believes that the story by Stevenson made a “black and white” distinction between “good and evil” and Elwin that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to a large extent is autobiographical in nature as it demonstrates his desire to break free of the moral codes puritan culture pressed on him first by his parents and then by his wife.
However, Miyoshi rejects these ideas for lack of evidence to demonstrate any connection between the novel and that of Stevenson’s personal life .
Miyoshi also refers to various terminologies, which are not clearly understandable. For instance, the term “je”, that is probably referred to the other identity within self. However, I was not aware of the terminology. Another reference made in the article new to me was that of a demon from German folklore named Mephistopheles.
Overall, the article is easy to understand and it captures the point of view of the author. The article clearly puts its stand and explains why the author believes that Stevenson was actually trying to bring forth the human duality from a psychological perspective and not as a story on personal experience or morality.
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Miyoshi points out that it is the dichotomy in the character of Jekyll and Hyde that present the paradox present in the Victorian era unlike many proponents who believed that it is a moral story.
Miyoshi, Masao. “Dr. Jekyll and the Emergence of Mr. Hyde.” College English, 27(6) (1966): 470-474. Print.