Dr. Jekyll confesses to Utterson that he has for a long time been fascinated by the duality of his own nature and he believes that this is a condition that affects all men. His obsession with his own darker side gives the novel its plot but also its profound, psychological implications. Even before the climax of the story in which it is revealed that Hyde and Jekyll are the same person, the duality of their personalities creates a tension between the good, social Jekyll and Hyde who seems to revel in causing harm and mayhem, and it looks like it is Jekyll who will be overtaken somehow by Hyde.
One of the most interesting things about Jekyll’s transformation is its psychological aspect. Hyde is portrayed as an evil-looking dwarfed man with a violent temper, while Jekyll is a respected man of science, good-natured and leader of his circle of friends. Not only are these men two halves of the same person, but Jekyll describes them as polar opposites, one good and the other evil. What does it mean, then, that once Hyde exists that he slowly seems to take over, to destroy Jekyll. Is Jekyll’s theory of good and evil too neat and clean? Hyde's takeover of Jekyll seems to suggest a less clear-cut explanation, in which the human condition is not in fact double but rather one of repression and dark urges, and that once the repression of those dark urges eases or breaks it becomes impossible to put back into place, allowing the "true", dark nature of man to emerge.
Jekyll’s disorder also reflects on the other characters, and raises the question of just how upright, moral, and governed by reason they truly are. Utterson for example is introduced as a lawyerly, kind man, and seldom seems to stray from that description. But his character is so rigid and unmoving, and even impersonal, that one could imagine he too is strenuously repressing a world of darker urges.
The Duality of Human Nature ThemeTracker
The Duality of Human Nature Quotes in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
"He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something down-right detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn't specify the point.”
“He began to go wrong, wrong in mind; and though of course I continue to take an interest in him for old sake's sake, as they say, I see and I have seen devilish little of the man. Such unscientific balderdash," added the doctor, flushing suddenly purple, "would have estranged Damon and Pythias."
"Poor Harry Jekyll," he thought, "my mind misgives me he is in deep waters! He was wild when he was young; a long while ago to be sure; but in the law of God, there is no statute of limitations. Ay, it must be that; the ghost of some old sin, the cancer of some concealed disgrace…”
The large handsome face of Dr. Jekyll grew pale to the very lips, and there came a blackness about his eyes. "I do not care to hear more," said he. "This is a matter I thought we had agreed to drop."
And then all of a sudden he broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on (as the maid described it) like a madman.
An ivory-faced and silvery-haired old woman opened the door. She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy: but her manners were excellent.
The fire burned in the grate; a lamp was set lighted on the chimney shelf, for even in the houses the fog began to lie thickly; and there, close up to the warmth, sat Dr. Jekyll, looking deathly sick. He did not rise to meet his
visitor, but held out a cold hand and bade him welcome in a changed voice.
"I cannot say that I care what becomes of Hyde; I am quite done with him. I was thinking of my own character, which this hateful business has rather exposed."
The death of Sir Danvers was, to his way of thinking, more than paid for by the disappearance of Mr. Hyde. Now that that evil influence had been withdrawn, a new life began for Dr. Jekyll. He came out of his seclusion, renewed relations with his friends, became once more their familiar guest and entertainer…
The middle one of the three windows was half-way open; and sitting close beside it, taking the air with an infinite sadness of mien, like some disconsolate prisoner, Utterson saw Dr. Jekyll.
"O, sir," cried Poole, "do you think I do not know my master after twenty years? Do you think I do not know where his head comes to in the cabinet door, where I saw him every morning of my life? No, sir, that thing in the mask was never Dr. Jekyll--God knows what it was, but it was never Dr. Jekyll; and it is the belief of my heart that there was murder done."
“Think of me at this hour, in a strange place, labouring under a blackness of distress that no fancy can exaggerate, and yet well aware that, if you will but punctually serve me, my troubles will roll away like a story that is told. Serve me, my dear Lanyon and save
Your friend, H.J.”
"Lanyon, you remember your vows: what follows is under the seal of our profession. And now, you who have so long been bound to the most narrow and material views, you who have denied the virtue of transcendental medicine, you who have derided your superiors--behold!"
With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the
intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.
I looked down; my clothes hung formlessly on my shrunken limbs; the hand that lay on my knee was corded and hairy. I was once more Edward Hyde.
I am careless; this is my true hour of death, and what is to follow concerns another than myself. Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.