“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.” ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Hyde’ was written by author Robert Louis Stevenson and was first published on the 5th of January 1886. Narrated by lawyer Mr Utterson, he attempts to explain what happened to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Stevenson is able to show us elements of gothic fiction across the joint character of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as a protagonist they had contrasting qualities and a need to know.
I believe that Stevensons intentions for his text ‘ The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ was to show us that everyone has parts of them that are “good” and some that are “bad”, no one can be solely one or the other. This was shown through the quote, “All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil…” The lesson being taught is that we have to accept ourselves for the good and the bad, because attempting to be fully one or the other will cause your destruction and demise.
One of the main characteristics/ traits defined by gothic fiction is a character that possesses contrasting/dualistic qualities. Jekyll and Hyde were the two contrasting personalities of the one human vessel. Jekyll in his “good” state was quotes saying, “I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self, and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse.” he describes himself as the original because he wasn’t tainted with evil. he considered himself as a better man before he was poisoned by his own ambition. He refers to Mr Hyde as his second person as it was the one that developed last, and was the one that he grew into at the end. Each of Jekyll’s qualities directly contrasted with that of Mr Hydes. Jekyll was nurturing, kind and had strong morals, Hyde was dangerous, abusive and was morally corrupt. It was even taken as far to describe “Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, as pure evil.” We can relate to this as we all have parts of our personalities that we try to shield from the public eye, out of shame, weakness or fear. Jekyll realised that, “with every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”
Jekyll also possessed an often intense need to know desire, especially in regard to finding a way to seperate his “good” and “evil” personalities. He described it as, “you start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on top of a hill; and away the stone goes, startling the others.” Jekyll had begun it all with one question but once he had one, it was like a domino effect of having more and more and more. It was involuntary. But also unstoppable. He later said that “It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it.” He saw each question, each subject as challenge of which he was going to concur.
The text ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ demonstrates several elements of gothic fiction, especially focussing on the character of Jekyll, and by how his need to know how to seperate his good and evil personas was destructive and ultimately in the end was the cause of his demise. This story should be taken as a lesson to not shy away or hide your negative parts, because no one is perfect and no one can ever be perfect without losing themselves. Hiding away behind a false identity just causes you to lose your real one, and once the false one wears away you’re left with nothing except the pain of grief over the version of you, that you lost along the way.