The novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” revolves around a London based lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson. In the film, Gabriel investigates the strange deeds that take place between Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde.1 He does this in order to discover the truth about the relationship between the two individuals.
Dr. Jekyll suffers from a rare mental condition referred to as the split personality or dissociative identity disorder.2 He has two traits or personalities. One of them is good, while the other is very evil. The wicked side is represented by Hyde. The doctor is successful and has a brilliant mind. He is highly respected in the community where he lives. Jekyll does his best to keep his dark character under control.3 The reason behind this is to maintain his good reputation in the society and avoid being permanently evil.
In this paper, the author will critically analyze and discuss the nature of Jekyll and Hyde’s case. A critical review of the novella reveals that “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” has both criminal and medical elements. To this end, the two phenomena are interrelated. As such, the medical elements give rise to the criminal aspects and vice versa. A number of examples from the primary source are used to support this argument.
Analyzing the Criminal and Medical Aspects of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”
With the help of the two characters portrayed by the doctor, the writer of the novella brings out the element of duality. Jekyll reflects on the profound deception of life and the dualist nature of man. He comes to the conclusion that all individuals have more than one personality.
He believes that man is not truly one, but two.4 As a result, his convictions drive him to split his traits into two separate identities. In the long run, the move creates a major conflict. The film centers on the self-righteous and unwavering Doctor Jekyll and the evil Mr. Hyde. The shift between the two personas is cleverly done. As a result, it is hard for the observer to realize that Jekyll and Hyde could be the same person.
As already indicated, “The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde” is both criminal and medical. The highly respected doctor commits a number of evil deeds, which are influenced and aided by his medical background. The medical aspect comes into play when he produces a portion of himself in the course of experiments to free himself of the evil personality.5 His activities give rise to Edward Hyde. The new person is very wicked and amoral. In addition to being evil, Hyde’s body is different.
It appears as if he is suffering from a medical condition. The body is ugly and deformed. It is also pale and dwarfish (Leslie, p. 41). In addition, he has a kind of black sneering coolness. The expression makes him look like Satan. Jekyll believes both personas can receive the pleasure they yearn for without the demands conflicting with each other. However, things turn out differently.
The dark half gradually becomes more powerful than the good side.6 The development forces Jekyll to commit criminal acts, which lead to his destruction. In this instance, it appears that the medical aspects of his appearance predispose him to criminal acts.
The medical experiments conducted by the man bring out two entirely different and independent entities. Jekyll considers Hyde as a natural second form that substituted his original self. The new form bears the stamp of lower elements associated with his soul. However, he does not embody the good virtues he possesses the same way Hyde exemplifies evil.
By splitting his personalities, he only succeeds in dealing with the wicked side and leaves his original self in the same mixed state as it was before.7 Jekyll fails to liberate himself from the dark side he unleashes through his medical experiments. The desire to take the portion was influenced by wicked urges, such as ambition and pride. To justify the existence of the evil side, he blames his state of mind at the time of taking the portion. However, this cannot be used as an excuse. It only shows that Jekyll is entirely evil.
If he was a good and moral man, it would have been hard for the dark side to take over his personality. The doctor would have been able to control the persona he created preventing, it from becoming powerful. On its part, drinking the portion may have led to the rise of a beatific creature. It gave rise to a being that participated in charity activities aimed at helping the society and not causing harm to the innocent people. Mr. Hyde’s personality was just lying deep within him.
It was waiting for the opportunity to be unleashed. As time goes by, Jekyll gets in touch more with the evil form than with the original one.8 As a result, only Hyde exists at the end of the novella. He is depicted in the film as a primitive creature. The reason is because he is a strong force that can no longer be controlled by anyone, not even himself. Hyde represents the true criminal nature of Jekyll, which had been repressed for a very long time. The instinctual side of man is very strong and should be unleashed with caution.
The transformation of Jekyll into Hyde acts as a cover for committing criminal activities. What this means is that the case has some elements of crime to it. If the case was entirely medical, he would have created another portion to counter the evil side that emerged. The frequent shifts in persona are indications of the fact that he is comfortable with the evil character of Mr. Hyde.
He strikes out on any person who witnesses his deformed nature. Much of his past is unearthed in the film. For example, he has never been photographed before. In addition, the master of the servant maid had only seen him twice. Furthermore, his family cannot be traced.9 Hyde operates very safely to ensure the identity remains under cover. As time goes by, he becomes more violent and Jekyll no longer needs to use the portion to unleash the demon.
The violent nature of Mr. Edward Hyde causes him to attack and murder Sir Danvers Carew. He committed the dreadful act without a clear reason. The action made him a wanted outlaw in England. In addition, Hyde had also trampled on a girl she had met accidentally. The incident involving the young girl aged between eight and ten years was witnessed by Richard Enfield. He was a distant relative of Lawyer Gabriel Utterson. It took place at about 3 o’clock on one winter morning.
Hyde was walking eastward when he bumped to an innocent child on the side street.10 Due to the collision, the girl fell and Hyde went on to tramp on her instead of offering a hand to help her off the ground. In addition, he left her screaming. On witnessing what had happened, Enfield went forth to confront the perpetrator.
However, he neither questioned Hyde nor helped the kid. The reason is because the deformed and ugly Hyde gave him a look that made sweat drip off his face. Help came from the young girl’s family after hearing the screams.11 She was on her way to summon a doctor to tend to an ill family member. The incident takes place early in the novel.
Women at the scene are filled with rage and as a result attack Mr. Hyde. In addition, they threaten to shame him by spreading the word from one end of London to the other. After realizing that the issue could get out of hand, Hyde promises to pay a hundred pounds to calm the angry crowd. He goes into a nearby two storey building to fetch the money. He comes out moments later with ten pounds. He is also carrying a draft for the remaining payment.
The document is signed by a different person whom Enfield failed to mention.12 However, he stresses that it was done by a man who holds a good reputation in the society. As a result, he speculates that Mr. Hyde could have blackmailed the individual who signed it. Enfield goes ahead to examine the building after the incident. He discovers it has no windows, only a door. No one enters or left the dwelling apart from the deformed perpetrator.
Enfield further argues there is something wrong, displeasing, and detestable about the look. He dislikes Hyde for no apparent reason.13 The actions of Mr. Hyde portray criminality within Jekyll. The portion and medical experiment only acts as a tool to help him accomplish his desires of committing evil deeds.
Another act to show the case is criminal in nature is the murder of Carew. The dreadful act takes place at night near a river. Carew was Utterson’s client and a member of parliament.14 The murder is witnessed by a house help. She was looking out of an upstairs window at the time. She spots an elderly gentleman in the company of a short and ugly looking man. Within no time, the latter turned on the aged friend and struck him mercilessly with a cane. In addition, he trampled on him, breaking his bones.
The woman hears the cracking sound. She is so shocked that she faints. Immediately after regaining consciousness, she calls the police and informs them about the murder. In addition, the servant identifies the perpetrator as Hyde. While conducting a search on the victim’s body, the police find a golden watch, a purse, and a letter addressed to Mr. Utterson.15 However, the deceased had no paper or cards to help uncover his identity. As a result, it took Utterson until morning to confirm the victim was Sir Danvers Carew.
Utterson then leads the Police Inspector Newcomen of Scotland to the two-storey building, which was Hyde’s dwelling place. Upon arrival, they met an old woman at the door. She confirms Hyde was not in the building at the time. In spite of her word, the Inspector and Mr. Utterson conduct a search in all the rooms. Drawers are opened and the pockets of all the attires turned inside out.16
A checkbook is found lying around. It is in the fireplace. The other half of the strong wooden stick was also found behind a door. Moments later, the lawyer pays Doctor Jekyll a visit. He is escorted to the dissecting rooms where Jekyll was and in a seemingly ill state. Upon questioning, he claims to have cut all ties with Mr. Edward Hyde.
To support the statement, Jekyll presents a letter written to him by Hyde promising he will never cause any trouble again.17 In addition, it highlights his desires to disappear. However, it does not disclose the perpetrator’s hideout. That was something that the police and other investigators has to work out.
Judging from Sir Carew’s murder and the events that transpired later, it is evident that the case is criminal. Taking another person’s life is inherently criminal, especially if it is not justified. Hyde committed the act without a valid reason.18 He also did not steal anything from the victim as the golden watch and letter were found intact.
No man can just execute such a crime without intent. Jekyll may have had a problem with Carew, which made him commit the murder. The case is very different to that of the young girl he had bumped on. Dr. Jekyll knew what he was up to even before taking the portion. He only used it to clear his conscience by arguing it was the evil persona’s desire to murder. The concoction is just a cover-up for his evil inner self.
Another point to show the case is criminal is Jekyll’s plan of making Hyde his benefactor. The respected doctor writes the will in spite of his friends’ negative thoughts towards Hyde.19 Utterson, for example, describes him as something troglodytic in nature. Jekyll’s move shows he found pleasure in Hyde and his monstrous activities. If he indeed disliked the dark personality, he would not have harbored the thoughts of disappearing. Instead, he would have done away with Hyde and maintained his original personality.
The case of Jekyll and Hyde is part medical and part criminal. However, the criminal aspect is portrayed more than the medical element. Jekyll knew he had an evil side deep within him. Conducting the experiments and drinking the portion shows his desire and intent to commit criminal acts.20 He has to take another form to accomplish his goals and maintain a clear conscience. He did it in a form that was ugly and deformed, just like the dreadful actions.
If the case was entirely medical and Jekyll did not find any pleasure in Hyde, he would have conducted another experiment. He should have tried to invent a portion that would give rise to a better persona. If indeed Jekyll was psychologically affected by the actions committed in Hyde’s form, he would have taken the concoction earlier. As a result, his positive traits would have dominated his dark side. The medical experiments were only meant to justify his criminal actions.
Bricusse, Leslie and Frank Wildhorn, The World of Jekyll & Hyde (Blacksburg: Cherry Lane Music, 2000).
Stevenson, Robert and Jenny Davidson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and other Stories (Pleasantville, N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, 2004).
1 Robert Stevenson and Jenny Davidson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and other Stories (Pleasantville, N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, 2004), p. 31.
2 Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn, The World of Jekyll & Hayde (Blacksburg: Cherry Lane Music, 2000), p. 15.
3 Stevenson and Davidson, p. 33.
4 Stevenson and Davidson, p. 31.
5 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 45.
6 Stevenson and Davidson, p. 54.
7 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 79.
8 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 82.
9 Stevenson and Davidson, p. 49.
10 Stevenson and Davidson, p. 35.
11 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 36.
12 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 23.
13 Stevenson and Davidson, p. 54.
14 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 45.
15 Stevenson and Davidson, p. 78.
16 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 85.
17 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 87.
18 Stevenson and Davidson, p. 75.
19 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 65.
20 Bricusse and Wildhorn, p. 92.