Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, authored by Robert Louis Stevenson, is one of the most talked about horror-science fiction stories. There are a lot of thought-provoking themes in the content, but one of the most major is the concept of dualism.
What are the real-life implications of dualism? How does this seemingly fantastic concept find its way into our daily lives? Let’s find out!
What Is Dualism?
Dualism is the idea that some facts about the world or a certain class of points cannot be explained except by assuming the existence of two distinct, ultimately frequently opposing, fundamental principles. The word dualism comes from the Latin duo, which means two. The discussion of dualism most frequently occurs about philosophical and religious systems.
A dualistic religion recognizes that the universe contains good and evil, or light and darkness, and that, while they are eternally opposed, they are coeternal, coexistent, and equipotent.
It is a significant distinction from nondualistic, monistic religions in which evil occurs as a result of an accident during the creation of the universe or as a result of powerful beings who can be good or bad depending on what serves or injures them, rather than being evil for the sake of being evil.
In this world, virtue and evil are frequently generated from the same source or one another, similar to the Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata.
Zoroastrianism is sometimes used as an illustration of a dualistic religion where all that is good is concentrated around Ahura Mazda, and all that is evil is focused around Ahra Mainyu. These two powers are constantly at odds with one another, and only, in the end, will good triumph over evil.
It’s interesting to note that the faith Stevenson was raised in, Christianity, opposes dualism and advocates a monistic genesis for the universe, created freely by a single, infinite, and self-existent spiritual being. But the church stressed and clarified the dualism between the human soul and the body it animates.
In a similar spirit, Christianity maintains that evil results from the creation of beings with free choice and is a natural limitation of finite created beings. God accepts evil as a flaw built into the process of making people.
Dualism in Philosophy.
The philosophy of dualism holds that there are two fundamentally distinct types of existence or essence in the universe: matter and spirit, body and mind. The proverb “The body is a tomb” reflects how sharply the ancient Greeks divided between the soul and the body.
Therefore, evil resulted from an infinite soul confined to a little body. For instance, Plato established that the soul existed separately from the body, a powerful expression of dualism. Like a chariot and a charioteer, the rational soul is a spiritual being separate from the body it resides in.
The Portrayal of Dualism in the Novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The novel by R. L. Stevenson is a well-known work of Victorian literature. Dr. Henry Jekyll is the main character of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a very accomplished and intelligent man who is all too aware of the evil that dwells inside him and the deception of the life he leads. Multiple personality disorder has come to be associated with the characters Jekyll and Hyde.
Dr. Jekyll secretly expresses the evil within him through various horrible deeds, but he shies away from doing so in public out of concern for the reaction of others.
Edward Hyde is amoral and nasty. His psyche is not only different from Dr. Jekyll’s; his physique, however, is terrible and deformed. During his experiments, he creates a combination that allows him to release the evil within him from the influence of his good self, giving rise to Edward Hyde.
As a result, Dr. Jekyll believes that he can experience the pleasure that both sides of his being want without being hampered by the needs of the other. Mr. Hyde, on the other hand, provokes sentiments of fear and absolute hatred in Dr. Jekyll’s associates, who beg him to quit his “relationship” with this Edward Hyde.
Edward Hyde eventually brings Dr. Jekyll to his demise as he gradually gains ever-increasing power over his “good” counterpart. In academic and popular literature, the term “Jekyll and Hyde” has denoted multiple personalities, and the book has also been cited as an example of addiction.
Stevenson invents a hero in his book who, using a concoction that he relates to alcohol throughout the story, interferes with his “normal” thought processes and frees Mr. Hyde. In addition to being entirely evil, this new persona also features a countenance that resembles “Satan’s trademark” and a body that is “something troglodytic.”
Here, it is demonstrated that a change in the psyche is linked to a change in the body or the soma and that the psyche is a process that may be mediated by external, tangible techniques (the strange concoction).
Stevenson rejects the conventional mind-body dualism in favor of a strikingly contemporary monistic perspective on how the mind-body interacts.
Can Dualism Be Evil?
In his novel, Stevenson develops a hero in the character of Dr. Jekyll. Dr. Jekyll is sick of living a double life and is aware of the evil in himself. Through self-experiments, he succeeds in releasing the pure evil aspect of himself that manifests as Mr. Hyde, allowing each to live their own lives free from the constraints of the other.
According to Dr. Jekyll, “I gradually drew steadily to that truth from both sides of my mind, moral and intellectual, by whose partial disclosure I have been doomed to such a frightful shipwreck.” “Man is two, not totally one,” is a reality.
The author wrote that he also began comprehending man’s profound and fundamental duality; the only reason he could legitimately be deemed either was that he was radically both. Edward Hyde is defined as “a second form and face substituted, yet recognizable to me since they were the manifestation, and bore the stamp, of darker portions of my spirit.” However, Edward Hyde was purely evil and entirely alone in this fact.
Stevenson thus builds two equal, coexisting, and inherently antagonistic parts that make up a “normal” person in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Here, good and evil are not intertwined but exist as separate entities, if not people, with distinct mental and physical characteristics in a constant state of conflict. The existence of good is no longer necessary for evil to exist; instead, evil exists as itself.
It is portrayed as being the more potent and pleasurable of the two, and in the end, it is evil that brings about Dr. Jekyll’s demise. It is due to Dr. Jekyll’s selfless decision to end himself in the final moments of his lucidity after realizing the threat Mr. Hyde brings to civilization.
Stevenson appears to reject Christian ideas of monism and accept the type of dualism that was just mentioned.
Considering the book in light of its Victorian London setting is important. Stevenson seems to be making a statement about the dualism that permeates every person and society at large, where the aristocracy had sinister secrets to keep hidden behind the thick walls of the mansions they called home despite appearing to be sophisticated and refined on the outside.
Most of the action occurs at night and primarily in London’s less affluent neighborhoods, which are considered the home of evildoers. The rear door via which Mr. Hyde enters and exits Dr. Jekyll’s home is particularly significant since it seems to metaphorically for the evil that hides beneath the facade of civilization and refinement.
Doppelganger, Disguise, and Death: How Are They Depicted in the Novel?
The concept of “the doppelganger” has been explored in the literature on numerous occasions and from various perspectives. In reality, Fyodor Dostoevsky pioneered the path with a novel that studied human psychology in its most complicated form: The Double (1846). Other more modern works, such as Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf (1927), attempted to examine this complication.
The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde discusses the repercussions of attempting to distinguish good from evil, which leads to the development of personality.
Jekyll was a ‘decent guy,’ a renowned man of high standing, a man who, like all others, suppressed his deepest urges. His love of medicine and fascination with separating good from evil drove him to consume a mysterious elixir that gave Mr. Hyde life. The latter is Dr. Jekyll’s polar opposite; a guy carried away by urges and pleasure.
The change depicts Dr. Jekyll’s pursuit of pleasures and wants that society frowns upon. Furthermore, while Jekyll is portrayed as attractive, Hyde is described as a caveman-like being with a wild and terrible countenance.
One of the key themes of this book is intrigue and magic. The revelation of the truth, made possible by one of Jekyll’s notes, occurs towards the conclusion, which is an extraordinary moment. We’re talking about accepting the inherent goodness of human nature and the impossibility of separating good from evil, two potent forces that reside inside every one of us.
This book aims to show readers that good and evil are inseparable as it investigates human nature. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were both actual people; they were the same, in opposite ways. They’re both here with us.
Do Humans Also Have a Dark Side Like Mr. Hyde?
Robert Louis Stevenson has consistently thought that people are capable of both good and evil. Or that every person possesses both good and evil. He asserts that both aspects of ourselves exist, except that society tends to suppress the evil side. He wrote the renowned book as a result of his ideas.
This one was one of the earliest books to introduce a character with a complex personality illness. Delivering a scary tale also raised questions about the time’s science and religion. The popularity of this book has led to numerous film, television, and theatre adaptations.
Stevenson provides hints so that the readers might speculate about what is happening. In the end, readers fully comprehend everything because of a document.
Do we possess a dark side? In the context of multiple disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, and literature, the concept of this good and evil duality has been examined from various points of view.
What if this duality of good and evil is what makes us human? Perfection is unattainable. Therefore, there is no such thing as perfect kindness.
Defining what good is supposed to be has fallen to the field of ethics. It is safe to conclude that these investigations have resulted in several contradictions. We’ve all acted in completely unexpected ways and made irrational, incomprehensible decisions throughout our lives.
It enthralls us and combines psychology with literature and philosophy in its interesting essence.
In the case of Dr. Jekyll, there is too much good; he feels accountable for all of his deeds and is fully aware of right and evil. He never deviates from what is considered socially acceptable.
In contrast, Mr. Hyde is full of evil and does everything incorrectly. When he does the wrong thing, he is quite happy. Eventually, the bad start to rule, and Jekyll recognizes how disastrous his experiment was at this point.
He realizes that good and evil balance each other out. The same is true for being entirely negative; some good must be balanced. Being too wonderful isn’t always the greatest option; life becomes monotonous without a little bad, which is why he wanted to develop an alter ego.
It would have been great if Mr. Hyde did not turn evil and was a good human being like Jekyll. Imagine two of yourself working alternatively or one working while the other is traveling!
If you liked this article, do not forget to check our other articles on science and many more: Sci-Fi Genre: How Well Does it Represent science? The Truth Revealed!