Miscellaneous

The Halloween Countdown: 9 – Mr Hyde from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Number nine: Mr Hyde from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde...

“All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.”

Countless books, films, and works of art have dealt with the idea of human beings having a dual nature. It means that people are divided into two sides, a good one and an evil one. In the classic book The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, written by Robert Louis Stevenson and published in 1886, this idea is worked out to an extreme degree. You must have heard of it; the two names have even made it into the English language, and the idea of this dual nature exists in many other works as well, including the Hulk.

What I think is really interesting about this story is the fact that Dr Jekyll, a gentleman in Victorian England, was so aware of these two sides of himself living inside of him, that he wanted to get rid of it. He concocted a potion which would allow him to split himself into two, hereby obliterating his evil side. Obviously, this went wrong, and instead of destroying this side of himself, it was in fact the other way around; the stronger evil side, which took the name of Mr Hyde, which slowly took over and eventually almost devoured Jekyll whole. Hyde was a person driven by desire, both by lust and a desire to kill, and it was only in the very end that Jekyll managed to regain control of himself – by committing suicide and thus taking Mr Hyde with him.

You might argue that Mr Hyde shouldn’t be included in this list, for he is not a true monster but merely a manifestation of a normal man’s darker side. However, in the book he is described as ugly and deformed and definitely monster-like, but nobody quite knows why. It is almost as though people subconsciously see him for the pure evil that he is, and register only partly that they are appalled by him. The subconscious is very important here; it raises the suggestion that not a single person is wholly good or wholly evil, but a combination of the two, and only a handful (Dr included) are aware of it. Considering this idea of a dual nature, it also means that everyone has a monster lurking inside of them, which we will never be able to get rid of…

What do you think, are all people trying to balance the good and evil within themselves? Can people be one hundred percent good, or evil? Can either of the two sides be developed over time, or are we born a specific way? Or is the idea of good and evil an old-fashioned one? Share your opinion in the comments!

2 comments

  1. Goed bezig El,

    Is de herfstvakantie lang genoeg om de hele lijst klaar te krijgen. Ben benieuwd naar de nr.1. Heb wel een sterk idee, maar wie weet…

    Groet,

    Papa

    >

    Like

    1. Ik heb het precies zo uitgerekend dat op de dag voor Halloween de nummer één gepresenteerd wordt (wordt een grote verrassing welke!), en op 31 oktober komt nog een beschouwing over het begrip monster. Nog acht te gaan!

      Like

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