Jekyll’s Progression in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

In public, Dr. Henry Jekyll is a wealthy, respected medical professional. However, in his private life, Jekyll often assumes dark, frivolous, and indecent personality. Guilt from his transgressions continuously overwhelms him, and desires to find a solution for his split nature. A solution that would allow each of his personas to attain a life of its own. Consequently, he begins a series of experiments that would enable him to apply his knowledge of chemistry to indulge his darker passions without being discovered. This paper will explore Jekyll’s progression in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) to reveal specific moments where Jekyll’s decisions affect his fate and the aspects of his character that force him to continue with his experiments.

 After a lot of research, Jekyll eventually discovers a solution to his unique problem. After adding salt (the final ingredient), Jekyll risks his life and, takes the solution. After incredible physical discomfort, Jekyll transforms into a shrunken and deformed figure, Mr. Edward Hyde. Jekyll’s arrogant personality prevents him from finding his transformation repulsive. It prevents him from foreseeing the consequences of defying the rules of nature and reconstructing his own identity. Instead, he experiences a leap of welcome. His evil persona is younger, stronger, and more primitive; an ideal outlet for Jekyll’s darker passions. Furthermore, by splitting his personality, Jekyll is finally free of the guilt he used to experience each time he indulged his darker side before the experiments.

For two months, Jekyll consciously transforms himself into Hyde, for who he has provided a well-furnished home, and a bank account to facilitate his dark exploits. However, this streak of good fortune soon comes to an end when Jekyll involuntarily transforms into Hyde in his sleep. It is at this moment that Jekyll first experiences the horror of the possibility of being trapped in his darker form forever and decides to stop his experiments. However, after two months, he experiences a sudden uncontrollable urge to assume the form of Hyde. Jekyll is unable to master some self-control, caves to his urges and takes the potion that transforms him into Hyde. This critical decision is the beginning of a chronology of events that would culminate in Jekyll’s demise.

Having been repressed for too long, Hyde goes on a wild rampage where he beats Carew to death, reveling in this heinous crime. Jekyll is horrified by what Hyde has done, and is convinced that he must cease transforming himself henceforth. In the subsequent months, all seems well with Jekyll. This serenity lasts until Jekyll grows weary of the incessant demands of a virtuous life and decides to indulge in his darker passions once more, but without a transformation. This decision triggers a spontaneous transformation where Jekyll’s changes into Hyde while sitting in a park bench. He has to call on Lanyon for help as he risked being arrested for the murder of Carew if he showed his face in public. After this incident, Jekyll has to take his potion several times a day to avoid transforming into Hyde. Consequently, his supply of salt, the main ingredient he used to make the potion runs out. He discovers that it would be impossible to obtain similar effects with a fresh supply of salt. A permanent transformation into Hyde is now inevitable. In his last hours, Jekyll transforms permanently into Hyde. It is unclear which of the personas consumes the arsenic poison that kills them both.

Jekyll is arrogant and wishful. He willfully upsets the balance of his personality. When he realizes that the harm he has caused, he does not have the self-control to suppress the desires of his darker side. His eventual demise results from his decisions to indulge his dark side, whether in his own person or the form of Hyde.

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