Essay on Hyde and Jeklyll

Submitted By cryscam
Words: 1325
Pages: 6

In Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson presents the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon. These two characters are longtime friends that have similar characteristics, including an inflexibility of character which has led one to an obsession with the pursuit and understanding of human nature and the other to cling to his conventional life and medical practice. Over time, their narrow minded work in their fields has led them to similar obsessive personalities. In this paper, I will argue that Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon may lead different lives, but their similar occupation, high social status, appearance, and rigidity of character lead them to a psychological crisis that creates a mental breakdown which causes their demise.
The differences between Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon’s character are few but significant. These differences, however, have led the two friends to pursue divergent paths in their medical pursuits, desires, and personalities. Mr. Utterson describes their relationship with a friendly tone and that “they have only differed on some point of science.” Dr. Lanyon is uncomfortable with Dr. Jekyll’s metaphysical research calling it “unscientific *balderdash”. Dr. Lanyon prefers the traditional, rational, and material science that is predictable and well understood. He finds pleasure in seeking tangible goals such as healing patients in his home. Jekyll describes Lanyon as “an ignorant, blatant pedant.” This shows the underlying frustration the two friends have with each other. Unlike Jekyll, Lanyon does not aspire to chase an implausible goal. Defying nature and its ways is not on Lanyon’s agenda. He seems content with the way his life is in the present moment and shows no desire to change it. Dr. Jekyll, on the other hand, seeks to understand the dual nature of man and “transcendental” science through an experiment on himself (53). Through numerous tests and years of research, he develops a potion to transform his dual self into his dark, hedonistic self. He suffers a complete transformation of the mind and body. Jekyll uses Mr. Hyde to indulge in his hidden desires, erase his moral conscience and the consequences that may await him in reality (59). This highlights the main difference between the two doctors. Jekyll uses his power and knowledge of science to seek dark personal gain while Lanyon does not reap benefits from his medical practice in any immoral way. The similarities between Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon are easily overlooked, but are recognized by the audience in the forms of their occupation, social status, appearance, and mental instability. Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon were “colleagues” in their field of study (49). Jekyll had an “MD, DCL, LLD, FRS” in which he acquired when going to a university with Lanyon (11). Acquiring these various titles, as Jekyll and Lanyon did, would take years. As they progressed through their studies, Lanyon and Jekyll sought different branches of science. Lanyon’s discomfort with Jekyll’s work on metaphysical science, would suggest that they may have worked together in the past. From their university years, they grew much attached to their work. Becoming doctors and practicing their work were their ultimate goals. This ultimately leads to similar, rigid, narrow-minded personalities obsessive in their work. As successful physicians, they held similar ranks in society. Although they sought divergent paths, they remained albeit less close friends.
Lanyon, in the town’s eyes, was a “celebrated surgeon” that used his home to consult with patients (26). Both of these doctors were held with high esteem. They enjoyed their lives in lavish homes with wine, friends, and social gatherings. It would seem, from an external perspective, that their lives were ultimately perfect. Society, that is giving them this lavish lifestyle is a positive reinforcement to continue their work and narrow-minded behavior. Even their physical appearance was similar in…