Jenna Pascarelli Mrs. Armstrong English 12 December 19, 2012 The Duality of Man During the Victorian Period, people did not believe in dualism and thought it was unacceptable. Robert Louis Stevenson brings the possibility of another self in one person to life in his creation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The quote “Man is not truly one, but truly two” (Stevenson 43), can be defined as every soul contains elements of both good and evil but one is always dominant. Both sides of an individual cannot be strong at the same time; therefore one side becomes stronger and takes over one’s body.
Dr. Jekyll allows Hyde to dominate his personality and eventually he is unable to control Hyde as time proceeds. The duality of the brain during the nineteenth century explains that the left and right hemispheres each had its own function. The right hemisphere was supposedly dominated in the brains of the insane while the left hemisphere was associated with civilization. “While Jekyll exhibits left-hemisphere attributes, Hyde embodies right-hemisphere traits” (Stiles 4). Stevenson gives each of the hemispheres a life of its own in both characters.
The left-brained Jekyll overpowered his right-brain urges which lead to the creation of the second persona. This secondary persona starts off as the weaker of the two but eventually grows stronger. For some time, Jekyll had reasoned that there were two natures in himself. Over the years Jekyll repressed his more impulsive side because he was unsure how people would react towards this side. Everyone who knew Jekyll thought he was a respected doctor who was well mannered. Little did they know he had an evil alter ego, Hyde, which was hidden by the disguise of Jekyll.
Eventually Jekyll decided to come to a conclusion “Though so profound a double-dealer, I was in no sense a hypocrite; both sides of me were in dead earnest” (Stevenson 42). Jekyll explains that both his sides were equally alike and learns how to deal with each side. Unfortunately, Dr. Jekyll could not have possibly foreseen what problems his separate identities would cause. The coexistence of an evil and a good soul in one body presents many problems that occur in the future.
The good form in Dr. Jekyll is soon overpowered by the evil nature of Mr. Hyde. Good and evil can no longer be separated in the body. When Mr. Hyde commits a crime, Dr. Jekyll tries to make up for the evil but the situation is morally uncertain. Dr. Jekyll’s possible innocence becomes more doubtful since the two identities are two halves of the same self. It was Dr. Jekyll’s eagerness to put on a mask and taste life of the evil self that has produced these horrible results in the first place.
Trying to kill off the Hyde in himself is not an easy task for Jekyll to attempt. The alter ego is a part of who he is and he cannot destroy that part of him. Dr. Jekyll does not approve of the evil things Mr. Hyde does but he cannot control the dominant Hyde who is becoming stronger. Elaine Showalter states, “The dominant side of the brain represent[s] the dominant gender, and the other repressed gender” (3). This explains that the evil Hyde completely takes over the good Jekyll side because it was hidden for so long that it needed to be expressed.
Hyde’s intention was to be able to live his passions freely and to fulfill the evil inclinations that live in his mind without any moral restraints or limits. At last Jekyll, acknowledging defeat, loses control of his alter ego permanently. Succumbing to his dark side, Jekyll surrenders and chooses death. Jekyll feels this is the best way to stop Hyde from committing anymore evil events. Jekyll would permanently be Hyde forever and he did not want to be framed as a murderer.
He felt that ending his life would be more beneficial than as living as Hyde for the rest of his life. Sources Cited Stiles, Anne. “Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde and the Double Brain. ” SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 46. 4 (Autumn 2006): 879-900. Rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Vol. 193. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Dover Publications, 1991. Print.