Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde uses the archaic language of gothic horror to fuel supernatural elementsin an atmospheric build up of tension to depict animality. Drawing upon humanemotions in a moral evaluation inferred by the animalistic protagonist, Hyde,Stevenson confronts societal standards. The extended metaphor of animality,from ‘animal within'(69)1 to a scream ‘of animalterror'(44) conveys the raw primality intended. The development of science ledto belief questioning and draws upon the Marxist ideology that “societies areat their worst when seeking to reform”2. Animality aids Stevensonin highlighting Victorian anxieties and truths on human nature. Animality is stressed through lexical and syntactical choices. Thenovella explores repressed aspects of humanity thus evolving a character suchas Hyde to portray animalism.
Hidden qualities of man are emblematicallyassociated with the eponymous protagonist, the name pun ironically suggestingthat the villain is only a depiction of what truly hides beneath. Stevensonoffers no sympathy to the unappealing ‘brute that slept within'(72) Jekyll,further depicting Hyde as untrustworthy from his savage visual representation:-“a sense of unexpressed deformity” (24. ‘There was something wrong with hisappearance'(6), his ‘features seemed to melt'(56) fuels the thoughts that Hydeis physically misshapen and lacks humanistic resonance. The substances found onthe body were ‘red'(52) hinting at an animalistic savagery and reflection uponthe ‘incredibly mangled'(21) body of Sir Danvers Carew. As a sadistic’madman'(21), the simile heightens the evil animality ‘much deeper in thenature of man'(53). The name Jekyll roughly translates to ‘I kill’ in Frenchsuggesting the underlying theme of animality. In addition, Hyde is a pun on theverb ‘to hide’ conveyed by Utterson when he states “if he be Mr Hyde, I shallbe Mr Seek”(11). ‘Hyde’ is also reflective upon farming land in Old Englishfuelling the link to the animalistic persona of Jekyll that he is trying tokill.
Language around Hyde is associated with the night where connotationsaround ‘hues of twilight'(22) and light-dark imagery infer notions of thesupernatural; Jack the Ripper crimes heightened the fear that Hyde’s animalitywas a tangible reality. “My devil had been long caged, he came out roaring”(67)suggests that the animality of Hyde will overcome Jekyll. The unorthodoxanimalistic violence displayed in Carew’s murder intensified the horror as itemphasised the vulnerability of human nature. The exposure of the doublepersonality acts as a microcosm for man’s repressed animality that is achingfor liberation. ‘Masked thing like a monkey'(42) potently realises the disguiseover inner desires, similar to how the facade of society hides true indulgencesbehind an illusion of respectability. Stevenson echoes Darwin’s ‘Descent of Man’3 by suggesting Hyde played’ape-like tricks'(21) and acted with ‘ape-like fury'(73). The primal semanticfield infers that Stevenson is promoting the “reversal of Darwin’s vision backto the apes”4(Tischler,146).
The fear of the unknown triggered from the discovery of evolution causedsignificant turmoil; Hyde portrayed as ‘hardly human'(14) establishes thatuncivilised characters were less evolved. Dr Lanyon’s trepidation arounddarkened human nature touches upon Victorian fear around increasing controversialityof God. Social Darwinism promotes animality as a potent theme; Stevenson supportsthe reflection of human transmutation which disapproved notions of religion.
Hyde’s appearance provokes revulsion:- “pale and dwarfish… with a murderousmixture of timidity and boldness”(13)- the parataxis accentuates Hyde’sunevolved nature, “almost Neanderthal in looks and stature”5. Refusal of scientificknowledge opposing the Bible and ‘troglodytic'(14) ancestry, contrastsecclesiastical portrayals of Adam and Eve from the Book of Genesis whichdepicts the creation of Man as reflective of God’s image. Darwin’s research onevolution from animals juxtaposed Christian ideas, which deemed science as ludicrousthat Victorians were once grotesque and uncivilised species. Darwin’s theorywas generally rejected, though people of higher class thought that they weremore evolved and closer to the pedestalised, Utopian view of the ‘perfecthuman’.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde imagines the inextricable relationshipbetween savagery and civility. 1 Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ed. RobertMinghall, Penguin English Library (London, England: Penguin Group, 2012)– All bracketed references from thetext.2 Karl Marx, Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (Moscow: ProgressPublishers, 1959)3 Charles.
R Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, Vol. 1(London: John Murray, 1871)4 Nancy M. Tischler, Tennesse Williams: Rebellious Puritan’, (1961).5 Dana Brook Thurmond, ‘The Influence ofCarl Jung’s Archetype of the Shadow’ (Degree of Master of Liberal Studies,Rollins College, 2012)