People often try to find their place in the society. Some feel comfortable when they achieve this and some tend to escape from people and live out of the society (or maybe beyond). People may have different reasons to avoid or long for the society. Some tend to live in the orderly manner with specific rules that help them be successful. Others may try to escape from rules and conventions as they are against such limitations of individual freedoms. It has been acknowledged that literary works are reflection of the reality. Therefore, it can be interesting to consider three famous literary characters, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, who had quite specific views on the society, and who can be seen as some archetypes that also exist in the real world.
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It is possible to start the analysis with Dr. Jekyll who pertained to the first group, the group of those who are eager to adhere to societal norms. The doctor had numerous friends, he was “their familiar guest and entertainer” and “he had always been known for charities” (Stevenson 22). Clearly, the doctor strived for being a part of the society. He paid specific attention to his “honour” as he did not want to expose his secret (Stevenson 36). He shared values of people he lived with. He was an exemplary citizen who earned respect and even admiration.
Remarkably, his desire to fit in made him carry out an experiment that made him an outlaw. He “stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life” and he decided to remove all the veils from his character so that he was a perfect member of the perfect society (Stevenson 42). In other words, he truly shared values of the society he lived in and tried to conform to conventions based on the values. At the same time, some part of his personality was against certain rules and deemed they were unnatural. The doctor found the way to divide his personality but the result was unexpected and, instead of a perfectly moral citizen, he created an immoral outlaw.
Mr. Hyde, who was the newly created member of the society, seemed to be against all possible rules and found specific pleasure in breaking them in the most vicious manner. This character is described as a person, who “alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil” (Stevenson 45). Mr. Hyde was not eager to become a part of the community and he tended to avoid communication with members of the society he lived in.
He wanted to be a part of the other world where societal conventions did not work. It is clear that the evil is his nature and Mr. Hyde committed numerous crimes for his own “good pleasure” (Stevenson 46). Admittedly, this character did not share values of the society and he developed his own conventions. He chose to break laws rather than to follow them. It is also noteworthy that Mr. Hyde did not escape from the society and he kept enjoying comforts of the civilized society. However, this was his only connection with that society and he tried to communicate with only a few members of that part of his life.
It is possible to note that Frankenstein’s view on the world can be regarded as a mixture of views of the characters mentioned above with specific worldview based on his arrogance. Frankenstein was a talented scientists and he admired nature. The young scientist wanted to reveal its secrets and his arrogance made him think he could do that. He wanted to fit in but he did not want to become a part of the society.
His aim was much more arrogant. He wanted to make all people admire him. In other words, he wanted to be beyond the society. Notably, his arrogance changed his attitude towards the society. He was focused on his experiments and one of the experiments made him a recluse. Frankenstein “abhorred society” and preferred communication with nature of books rather than with people (Shelley 184). He repulsed himself and he was ready to “suffer on the scaffold” for the crimes his monster had committed (Shelley 120). Thus, initially, he thought he was too good to be a mere part of the society and, at the end of his life, he felt he was unworthy living in the society.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that the three literary characters shed light on ways people see themselves and the society as well as themselves in the society. In the majority of cases, people are ready to be a part of the society. However, sometimes this desire leads to unexpected results and people become outlaws or simply recluses. At the same time, some people think they are too good to conform to societal rules or they simply do not share values existing in the society. Such individuals become outcasts and outlaws. Clearly, people should always remember the stories of the three characters to be able to make the right choice and live a good life.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 1999. Print.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the Merry Men and Other Stories. London, UK: Wordsworth Editions, 1999. Print.