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Dr. Jekyll and the Emergence of Mr. Hyde Author(s): Masao Miyoshi

Source: College English, Vol. 27, No. 6 (Mar., 1966), pp. 470-480 Published by: National Council of Teachers of English

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family. Thus in the eschatological di­ mension that obtains at the book’s close, Oliver and his friends realign society’s relationships and reconstruct a family on the basis of love rather than law or blood. The first step is the complete revelation and acceptance of all the socially dis­ graceful facts about Oliver’s (and Rose’s) family, and then a conscious, willed trans­ position of relations. Oliver the bastard is accepted by Mr. Brownlow as his son. Oliver himself changes Rose’s status: “I’ll never call her aunt-sister, my own dear sister, that something has taught my heart to love so dearly from the first” (Chap. 51). Rose, herself an orphan with a “stain” upon her name, achieves a fur­ ther relation. Mrs. Maylie, upon hearing her story, affirms that Rose is “not the less my niece … not the less my dearest child my own dear girl” (Chap. 51).

As for Harry, since Rose has considered her family history an impediment to their marriage, he cuts himself off from much of his family; he renounces the world for a country parish. We may be sure that their marriage will work, for it has been purged of the two elements that have caused evil in the other ones: Harry’s retirement in the country has removed him from economic competition; and his willingness to choose the “disreput­ able” Rose at the cost of his political as-

pirations demonstrates that he is not excessively concerned with his family name-he has no false sense of respect­ ability. Greed had certainly been one of the strongest passions in the homes of Sowerberry and Bumble, and it was “fam­ ily pride” that forced Oliver’s father into the unfortunate marriage that produced all the troubles. Of course, this is a moral and not an artistic victory: the existence of the poor and the wretched in London has not been negated by this idyll, which is simply a turning away from the prob­ lem.

Almost all the good people undertake the same symbolic withdrawal from that part of the world of the novel which is most vivid, chiefly symbolized by what Dr. Losberne calls “this confounded Lon­ don” (Chap. 32). The “good” characters gravitate toward the country retreat, and eventually all of them live there except the eccentric Mr. Grimwig, who none­ theless makes frequent visits. Even Oli­ ver’s erring mother is given a posthumous place of honor here. Having totally over­ turned the world’s judgments and rela­ tions, Oliver and his friends have created a “little society whose condition ap­ proached as nearly to one of perfect happiness as can ever be known in this changing world” (Chap. 53). They con­ stitute, in fact, one happy family.

Dr. Jekyll and the Emergence of Mr. Hyde



story teller, the author of those classics of juvenile literature, Kidnapped

Tre/ljure Island. Probably very few who loved those books will have occasion to read him again, but even the scholars

whose business he. is neglect the novels

Assistant professor of English at the Univer­ sity of California at Berkeley, Mr. Miyoshi has published several articles in Victorian litera­ ture. He is currently working on a book deal­ ing with the divided self in nineteenth-century English literature.

these davs. Robert Louis Stevenson: he is himself so much the biographer’s novel­ ist, the fascinating “life” to be read, that his work is almost incidental. Some, it is true, regard him as a superb craftsman

of the novel, but they talk only of the Stevenson style, as though a good style were detachable, the manner from the matter, the art from the thought.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not exactly a nursery tale, and it is reasonable to expect that, of all the Stevenson stories, that would be the one to get an occasional nod in an article or in the classroom as having something more than entertainment quali­ ty, even as having something to do with ideas. Everyone is familiar with its two­ men-in-one motif-the Barrymore ver­ sion is now a film classic-but perhaps not unrelated to this popular status, the book is usually dismissed as crude science fiction or cruder moral allegory. Henry James certainly praised it, soon after it appeared: “the most serious of the au­ thor’s tales,” he said, “a really imagina­ tive production,” but then in the same essay called its theme “the relation of the baser parts of man to his nobler.”1 G. K. Chesterton, whose Robert Louis Steven­ son continues as one of the few good cri­ tiques of the author, saw in the story a reassertion merely of a “strictly ortho­ dox”2 moral. And even the otherwise eloquent defender of Stevenson, Profes­ sor David Daiches, hands down the usual verdict: “as an allegory it does not stand up very well to detailed examination.”3 Are such views fair to the book, really? Should Jekyll and Hyde be remembered solely or primarily for its author’s sup­ posed invention of the dual-personality theme? Is the book too slight for any more conscientious critical effort? I would like to think that, the movies not­ withstanding, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may be read and studied as a story of ideas, that it will by this means yield in-

1 “Roben Louis Stevenson,” first published in the Century Magazine, April 1888, and reprinted

sights into certain aspects of the late Vic­ torian society that was its milieu, and that it will finally suggest something of the literary tradition which fathered it.

The book comprises ten chapters, the first eight written in the third person (mostly Mr. Utterson’s point of view) and the last two in the form of letters, one from Dr. Lanyon and the other from Dr. Jekyll, to their lawyer friend Mr. Ut­ terson. “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case,” which constitutes the last chapter, is frequently cited as the “moral” the author attached to explain the story. But the statement is intrinsic to the work and must be read as such-as Henry Jek­ yll’s statement, not as Robert Louis Stev­ enson’s.

In approaching the work, it would be best to envision the world of the story­ its men and landscape-before turning to the Jekyll-Hyde relationship itself. To begin with Mr. Utterson, who is evi­ dently a highly respected citizen. The lawyer is always correctly professional and trustworthy, yet there is something furtive and suppressed about him. He is “austere with himself.” He never smiles. He is “cold, scanty, and embarrassed in discourse” (Chap. 1).4 He claims to like the theater, though he has not been to a play in twenty years. He makes no new friends and socializes only with men he has known well for a very long time. As for his renowned tolerance toward other people’s misconduct, this looks suspi­ ciously like the result not of charity but of indifference, though there is the sub­ tlest suggestion of vicarious pleasure. Ut­ terson, too, it turns out, has a past not quite innocent. When it occurs to him that blackmail may be at the root of Hyde’s connection with Jekyll, he con­ siders the possibility of a similar threat to himself: “And the lawyer, scared by

in Henry Jtnnes and Robert Louis Stevenson:

A Record of Friendship and Criticism, ed. Janet Adam Smith (London, 1948), p. 155.

2(New York, 1928), p. 53.

BRobert Louis Stevenson (Norfolk, 1947),

P· 13.

4My references throughout are to the Vailirna Edition, the seventh volume of which contains Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The chapters are not numbered in this edition, but I have done so here for ease of reference.

the thought, brooded a while on his own past, groping in all the comers of memory, lest by chance some Jack-in­ the-Box of an old iniquity should leap to light there” (Chap. 2). When his friend and client Sir Danvers Carew is mur­ dered, the event stirs no deeper emotion in him than worry “lest the good name of another should be sucked down in the eddy of the scandal” (Chap. 5). And when his relative Mr. Enfield observes the unspoken rule of never asking ques­ tions–“the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask” (Chap. 1)-Utter­ son gives his unequivocal approval. Only his confrontation with Mr. Hyde’s un­ pleasant face cracks the smooth varnish of his existence, making him feel ” (what was rare with him) a nausea and distaste of life” (Chap. 2).

Dr. Hastie Lanyon is, by contrast, an apparently healthy and genial man. Yet he too is shielded from life by an imposing respectability. Estranged from Dr. Jekyll for ten years, Dr. Lanyon is a scientist of “practical usefulness” (Chap. 9), who sees Jekyll as a man gone wrong with his “scientific heresies” (Chap. 3). As it hap­ pens, when the great Dr. Lanyon con­ fronts a phenomenon which his matter­ of-fact science cannot explain, his life is “shaken to its roots” (Chap. 9). He says to Utterson, “I sometimes think if we knew all, we should be more glad to get away” (Chap. 6). Too late he has learned the ghastly aspect of life, and, with un­ dimin,ishing horror at it all, he shrivels and dies.5

The important men of the book, then,

are all unmarried, barren of ideas, emo­ tionally stifled, joyless. In the city at large the more prosperous business people fix up their homes and shops, yet there is something sleazy about the decor: the houses give an appearance of “coquetry,” and the store fronts invite one like “rows of smiling saleswomen” (Chap. 1). The

5Dr. Lanyon’s fate bears a strong resemblance to Captain Brierly’s in Lord Jim.

handsome houses in the back streets of Dr. Jekyll’s neighborhood are rented out to all sorts-“map-engravers, architects, shady lawyers, and the agents of obscure enterprises” (Chap. 2). And everywhere the London fog is inescapable, even creeping under the doors and through the window jambs (Chap. 5). The setting is of a wasteland, but a wasteland hidden by the secure and relatively com­ fortable respectability of its inhabitants. In this society of respectables Dr.

Jekyll stands out as “the very pink of the proprieties” (Chap. I). Although his studies, like those of Faust and Franken­ stein before him, tend toward “the mys­ tic and the transcendental” (Chap. 10), he still manages to maintain a consider­ able scientific reputation. And yet, de­ spite Jekyll’s social role-in fact, because of it-it is Jekyll, rather than Utterson or Lanyon, who brings forth Mr. Hyde. It will be remembered that, for a period long before the emergence of Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll was “committed to a profound duplicity of life”: alongside his “imperious desire” for dignity and repu­ tation, there was that “impatient gaiety of disposition” (Chap. 10). But for those in the Victorian wasteland, gaiety and respectability are not easily reconciled. Dr. Jekyli in particular, sees the two as mutually exclusive: a respectable pleasure

would be a contradiction in terms. The exacting nature of his ambitions was such that the most unremarkable pleasure re­ sulted in shame. Meanwhile, his Faustian studies, which had already “shed such a strong -light on this consciousness of the perennial war among my members” (Chap. 10), suggested to him a practical means of settling the whole question. (Dr. Jekyll, it should be understood, is incapa­ ble of expanding the mere self to the scale of the universe, nor can he hope to unify the antagonists within by a com­ mitment to the betterment of all man­ kind, both of which Dr. Faust found feasible. Respectable society, of which Jekyll is a member in good standing,

would repudiate such spurious modes of self-transcendence. Thus, whereas Faust was irrepressible by definition, Jekyll, the latter-day Faust, must at all costs hold his place as a reputable man and even rise in the establishment if he can.) And so, though pleasure had been suppressed for a long time by the dreary decency that was his life, Dr. Jekyll will enjoy it, after all, in the person of a totally new identity, Edward Hyde.

Hyde, once unleashed, arouses disgust in everyone. Dr. Jekyll’s servant, for one, feels “kind of cold and thin” in his mar­ row after meeting Hyde for the first time (Chap. 8), and even the “Sawbones” has the urge to do away with him. To catch sight of Hyde is to be reminded of the hidden “je” in each of us, the “troglo­ dytic” (Chap. 2) animal that only waits for the moment of release. In most soci­ eties men agree to curb the “je” and are not required to totally suppress it. But in Jekyll’s world, the “je” must be ruth­ lessly suppressed-most unequivocally so by the man known as “the very pink of the proprieties,” Dr. Henry Jekyll, the most thoroughgoing “je-killer” of them all.

Hyde, at once Jekyll’s Mephistopheles and his (Frankenstein) monster, looks like the very incarnation of evil, but at the beginning he is in fact merely Jekyll’s unrepressed spontaneous existence. Going about in the guise of Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll discovers a new freshness and joy in his life. He feels “younger, lighter, happier in body” and is conscious of a “heady recklessness,” of a “current of disordered sensual images running like a mill-race in my fancy, a solution of the bonds of obligation, an unknown but not an innocent freedom of the soul” (Chap. 10). Not respectable certainly, and there­ fore utterly despicable by the standards of the Utterson-Enfield-Lanyon world.

But Hyde gradually shows himself dis­ satisfied with his role as mere “impatient gaiety,” and scornful of the rights of others. His “every act and thought

[were) centred on self’ (Chap. 10). In fact, his pleasure comes to depend on his torturing others. At this point, the self and society are enemies to the death.

Soon after the episode in which Hyde tramples the child, the Jekyll-Hyde meta­ morphosis becomes involuntary: the doctor goes to bed Henry Jekyll and awakes as Edward Hyde. The hidden “je” released by the social “I” threatens now to overpower it. Yet he believes it is still within his ability to stop this emergence of Mr. Hyde. Resolving to forego the “leaping impulses and secret pleasures,” he determines to live once again the life of an “elderly and discon­ tented doctor” (Chap. 10). Of course, having once allowed his “je” the taste of freedom, he finds he cannot long suppress it. Soon Edward Hyde leaps out “roar­ ing” (Chap. 10) from the cave of Henry Jekyll. When the brutal murder of Sir Danvers Carew is disclosed, Jekyll’s re­ morse is intense, if short-lived, recalling the reaction of countless Gothic villains after indulging their sadism. Hyde is now a known criminal, hunted down not only by Utterson (who calls himself “Mr. Seek” [Chap. 2)) but also by the police, and the doctor can no longer risk taking advantage of the Hyde persona for his sojourns in the netherworld. The next time he goes out it is in the guise of Dr. Henry Jekyll. No wonder, then, that the metamorphosis should have become com­ pletely involuntary and the magic drug virtually ineffectual. There are no longer any inner or outer marks to distinguish the two. The merging, however, is in no sense a reconcilement of the Jekyll-Hyde duality. Rather, it signals a return to the starting point of Jekyll’s whole experi­ ence. Only the annihilation of one of the two selves “reconciles” them: at the end of the story the doctor finally suppresses the “je” by murdering Hyde, thereby, of course, becoming a “self-destroyer” (Chap. 8), a suicide.

Chesterton is the first, I believe, to have

pointed out the autobiographical elements


in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He argues that Edinburgh, not London, is the scene of the story, on the basis that the black and white distinction of good and evil, the horror of tainting respectability with the disclosure of human failings, is Puri­ tan, especially Caledonian. Chesterton sees Jekyll’s fastidiousness as the trait of one who “knew the worst too young; not necessarily in his own act or by his own fault, but by the nature of a system which saw no difference between the worst and the moderately bad.” 6 This notion is developed in Malcolm Elwin’s The Strange Case of Robert Louis Steven­ son (London, 1950), though the biog­ rapher tends to read Jekyll and Hyde into the author’s life rather than Steven­ son’s life into the story. Elwin’s view is that Stevenson, who was the only child of very pious parents, suffered from their Puritan restrictiveness from his earliest days. Although he rebelled in adolescence against middle-class morality, leaving home for a bohemian love-life in the Edinburgh slums, he was soon suppressed by it again, this time at the hands of his wife, the highly respectable Fanny Os­ borne Stevenson. Since he required her services as his amanuensis, it gradually developed that both his work and his personal correspondence were regimented and censored by her.

Unfortunately, Elwin’s scanty docu­ mentation makes it hard to determine the accuracy of his view of the author’s per­ sonal life.7 However, we do know that Stevenson had been long familiar with the story of Deacon Brodie, an Edin­ burgh cabinet maker by day and burglar by night, and as early as 1865 he was at work on a drama based on the man’s life. (He later completed the work with W.

6Chesterton, p. 53.

7Professor Bradford Booth has informed me that his forthcoming edition of Stevenson’s letters will correct Mr. Elwin’s views on many matters. The work is not available to me at this writing, and in any case additional biographical data would add little to my reading of the story.

E. Henley, titling it, “Deacon Brodie, or the Double Life.”) Then, in 1883 he wrote “The Travelling Companion,” a ghastly horror story which was rejected by his publisher and afterward destroyed by the author. He called it a “carrion tale” in a letter to Colvin in 1888, and elsewhere explained his reasons for writ­ ing it: “I had long been trying to write a story on this subject, to find a body, a vehicle, for that strong sense of man’s double being which must at times come in upon and overwhelm the mind of every thinking creature. I had even writ­ ten one, The Travelling Companion … which I burned the other day on the ground that it was not a work of genius, and that Jekyll had supplanted it.” 8 Two other stories, “Olalla” and “Markheim,” both published in 1885, also fall into this category.

But biographical references alone will not explain Stevenson’s preoccupation with the theme of man’s double nature. As suggested earlier, Dr. Jekyll bears a close family resemblance to the Gothic romances of the late eighteenth century, a resemblance in respect both to the theme of double personality and their similar wide departure from the realism of the orthodox novel.9 The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, The Italian, Caleb Wil­ liams, The Monk, and many other stories feature outrageous villains whose abrupt and inexplicable transformations from a state of uncontrollable passion to that of

8″A Chapter on Dreams,” Works, XII, 247. Din this connection, Stevenson’s essays on the nature of the romance and the novel-“A Gossip on Romance,” “A Note on Realism,” “A Hum­ ble Remonstrance,” etc.-might profitably be compared with the pronouncements on the same subject, about a century earlier, by the romanc­ ers Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve, and Sir Wal­ ter Scott, and with Hawthorne’s Preface to The House of the Seven Gables. So considered, the development of the romance is seen to paral­ lel that of the orthodox realistic novel. While

remaining clearly distinguishable throughout the greater part of the nineteenth century, the two merge m the last decade to form the new symbolic novel.








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heartfelt remorse indicate the dual per­ sonality in almost as virulent a form as Jekyll’s. Vathek is cursed by his mother­ herself unflaggingly evil-as a “two­ headed, four-legged monster.” 10 And Caleb Williams likens human beings in general to “those twin-births that have two heads indeed, and four hands.” 11 This characteristic theme of the romances suggests a central concern of modem writers to document the dualism by ex­ amining particularly the disjunct passion and reason which have remained, pretty much throughout the modern period, alien to each other like the two sealed and separate chambers of the Gothic personality.

The romance declined at the tum of the century, but the dualism that was its principal motif was taken up by all the major Romantic poets. Wordsworth and Coleridge tailored it to fit what they felt was the schism between the ineffable imagination and the demands of reason, and the same rift is apparent in countless poems of Byron, Shelley, and Keats (Childe Harold, Alastor, and Lamia, to name just a few). Not unexpectedly, the prose romances of this period, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and James Hogg’s Justified Sinner, embody the same Ro­ mantic paradox, and, what is more inter­ esting for this discussion, the situation of the principal characters in these books strikingly anticipates that of the scientist­ cum-devil in Stevenson’s tale.

It might seem to make little sense to speak of Gothicism per se in connection with the greater part of the Victorian era, but we do find there countless in­ stances of the “double” motif. Such poems as Tennyson’s “The Two Voices” and “Supposed Confessions” and Browning’s Pauline and Sordello embody the Roman­ tic paradox, but with this difference: what had been for the earlier poets a problem with a transcendental dimension

10Vathek, 3rd ed. (London, 1816), p. 176.

llCaleb Williams (London, 1831), p. 420.

(the struggle between imagination and reason) was here brought down to earth and conceived as a problem of personal faith vs. social responsibility. For it is a commonplace of our under5tanding of the period that the Victcrian writer wanted above all to “stay in touch.” Comparing his situation with that of his immediate predecessors, he recognized that indulgence in a self-centered ideal­ ism was no longer viable in a society which ever more insistently urged total involvement in its occupations. The world was waiting to be improved upon, and solved, and everyone, poets included, had to busy themselves and “make up their minds on as many matters as pos­ sible.” 12 For the most part, they did make up their minds, though often at great cost, as may be seen in the crisis-marked personal histories of men like Newman, Mill, and Carlyle, as well as Tennyson and Browning.

In the Brontes’ novels many commen­ tators see a development of the Gothic romance tradition.13 But if Heathcliff and Rochester seem unremittingly Gothic for a time, all passionate intensity, they are both, after all, “resolved” at the end, the one by death, the other by a civiliz­ ing union with Jane. The fact is, it was becoming more and more difficult for the artist to unite conflicting impulses through social commitment, as the older Victorians had. In Arnold as in Clough, there is scarcely a poem that does not reduce thematically to a long and per­ versely unsettled dialogue of the mind with itself, despite both poets’ anxiety to put their talents to some social purpose. About the time of Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, probably the last major Victorian work which places a high value on the achievement of a stable personal identity,

12Geoffrey Tillotson, Thakeray the Novelist

(Cambridge, 1954), p. 60.

13See, for example, “Charlotte Bronte’s ‘New’ Gothic” by Robert E. Heilman in From Jane Austen to Joseph Conrad, ed. Robert C. Rath­ bum and Martin Steinmann, Jr. (Minnesota, 1958), pp. 118-132.


a species of resigned acceptance of ambi­ guity, apparent particularly in the poems of Rossetti and Thomson, became the rule. Thus, toward the end of the century the conflict was more often expressed as a psychological than a moral problem, a development that may be traced in such works as Hardy’s Tess and Jude the Obscure, Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Beer­ bohm’s The Happy Prince, Conrad’s Lord Jim,
in many poems by Yeats, Dow­ son, and Johnson, and in, of course, Jekyll and Hyde.

Of all the enormous output of the 189Os it is the Stevenson work which,

unluckily, has given us a convenient epithet (“Jekyll-and-Hyde”) for the post-Freudian with an unhappy double self. Paradoxically, Stevenson was too successful, both in his story-idea and in what has come to be a silly name for it: by that silly name we have been diverted from reading what should have great in­ terest for us. By far the largest part of that interest lies in the vision the book conjures of the late Victorian wasteland, truly a de-Hyde-rated land unfit to sus­ tain a human being simultaneously in an honorable public life and a joyful private one.

American Studies and American Literature

Approaches to the Study of Thoreau


THE QUESTION POSED HERE is what differ­ ences if any we can find between a strictly literary approach and an Ameri­ can Civilization approach to major Amer­ ican authors. While the answer is not easy, because individual scholars vary in their philosophical or sub-philosophical assumptions let alone their conclusions, it is nevertheless worth another attempt, just as the formulation of a philosophy is always worth another attempt. My an­ swer, perhaps not very startling, is some­ thing like this. Though there is a danger that the individual work of art can be swamped in a sea of methodology, I am convinced that a critical evaluation can best be produced not in the hermetically sealed isolation of the work’s uniqueness, but by first applying techniques, which I,

Mr. Kern, of the University of Iowa’s English Department, is teaching for a second year at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. A version of this paper was read in San Francisco at the 1963 NCTE meetings.

at least, learned from American studies. In short, American studies techniques are important to criticism as well as cultural studies. And this leaves us with the ques­ tion whether there is any difference be­ tween literary history as such and an American studies approach. There is of course a good deal, and this difference is in the inter-disciplinary nature of American Studies, which offer a plurality of methods rather than the single one of a unitary discipline.

This, then, raises two central questions

which take us to the core of the problem. What do we need to know in order to understand Thoreau? What can a study of Thoreau tell us about American cul­ ture? Note that these two simple queries bring us to a bifurcation. The problem posed by the first question is centered in literature, that by the second in culture. But even with reference to the first ques­ tion, Wellek and Warren in their Theory of Literature argue that critical ap-

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