Tuesday, October 14, 2003

New Posts

1st: Don't forget to check out the Lupin part I added to the Mirror of Erised post!

2nd: Below is a reaction paper (for class) I just wrote (2 minutes ago) on Dr. Jekyll. It's a prelude to the essay I'm about to write on Harry, Snape, Hagrid, GRAWP, and their dangerous connections. (I have an outline for the essay but it is a difficult one to write. It should be up sometimes this week if school doesn't overload me with work.)

3rd: This blog seems to have a number of problems loading. If you don't get the entire front page on the first try, try reloading. Any other problems? Let me know. Thanks again for all your support!

Dr. Jekyll's Epitaph

The final chapter of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a first hand account of Jekyll's struggle with society and personal duality. Jekyll creates Mr. Hyde when he is forced to subdue parts of himself for parts more acceptable to the community. When his creation begins to take over, Jekyll has no one to turn to. Although he does eventually acquire the help of Dr. Lanyon, he is left almost completely alone to bear his cross. Society, in all of its mannerisms and judgments would sooner condemn a man for evil than try to help him find a balance. For this reason, the written word is Dr. Jekyll's last resource to reveal his true natures to society and the plight that he has had to endure. The written word is more than just a way to give explanations; it is a way to keep alive what is true when everyone involved has passed on.

Dr. Jekyll's account of the uncanny events is only displayed to the readers from a letter written by Jekyll in his last moments of desperation. By the time all of the information is brought to the surface, Jekyll, Hyde, and Lanyon have already suffered death. It is necessary that Jekyll is dead before he is willing to give the letter to Mr. Utterson, because he recognizes that society does not understand duality and would therefore sooner send him to the scaffold than help him. Mr. Utterson may be his friend, but throughout the book the reader is led to believe that Utterson fully believes that man is either bad or good. For instance, Utterson is filled with consternation when he learns Jekyll has anything to do with this evil Hyde character. "'I thought it was madness,' he said, as he replaced the obnoxious paper in the safe, 'and now I fear it is disgrace.'" (13) Indeed, whenever Utterson tries to help Jekyll it is only to try and convince him to throw away all evil and repair his reputation. Utterson does not understand that even without Hyde, Jekyll is not a perfectly good man. Therefore, Jekyll knows that he cannot get Utterson to understand without revealing everything and receiving Utterson's disgust in return. By writing down the letter to be delivered after his death, Jekyll has a full opportunity to express what he knows needs to be said.

Dr. Jekyll's written word becomes a means for Jekyll not only to reveal events, but to pass along the knowledge of truth. Jekyll's cross may be more marked by a character such as Hyde, but Jekyll recognizes that all man is composed of dual forces. He also understands that each man has to learn to hide this duality to live in a respectable society. Jekyll's letter stands as a warning to society that it's forced submergence of these truths only increases the evil. For if man has to bear all of his sin alone, than the temptation will eventually take over.

Dr. Jekyll's letters also tell us that even in Hyde's form, Jekyll found that his handwriting was the same. Despite attempts to hide it, Mr. Guest recognizes this similarity early on in the book. (38) This is another example of the written word containing truth. Mr. Hyde is a part of Jekyll. Despite the physical differences, the handwriting unmasks the fiend to present the good doctor.

Robert Louis Stevenson uses the written word in a similar way. The birth of modernism is just beginning, and Stevenson is revealing one of its key characteristics. Man is not all good and to claim that he is all good is to live a lie. Through Jekyll's letter, Stevenson reveals a tale about what happens when the suppression becomes too much. The book becomes less than an accusation and more of a plea for society to quit forcing each man to hide part of himself. The other half of man might not be pleasant, but in accepting its existence, man can at least help man overcome his temptations.