Character Profile: Dr Jekyll

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  • Dr Henry Jekyll
    • social status and reputation
      • Jekyll appears to be a good and respectable man, known for his charity work
        • 'well known and highly considered'
      • surrounds himself with the upper class, hosting dinner parties with like-minded men.
        • 'the doctor gave one of his pleasant dinners to some five or six old cronies'
      • he is sociable and friendly
        • 'every mark of capacity and kindness'
      • behaves in a socially acceptable way, conscious of how other people see him, and strives to be respected
        • 'fond of the respect of the wise and good among my fellow men'
      • his obsession with reputation is shown to the extent that it is even shown to be appearing in Hyde, even though he has no reputation to protect, suggesting he is thinking like Jekyll. His obsession is taking over his whole existence
        • 'no gentleman but wishes to avoid a scene'
    • false pretences
      • Jekyll has always come across very respectable, he worries greatly about his desires and thinks that they're worse than they are because of his obsession with his reputation
        • 'more than commonly grave countenance before the public'
      • his desires make him very guilty, and he separates his good and bad side more than most people in embarrassment
        • 'almost morbid sense of shame'
      • his excessive guilt over what he deems to be wrong is Stevenson criticising the pressures of Victorian society placed on people to look respectable
        • 'the worst of my faults was a certain impatient gaiety of disposition'
      • Jekyll eventually being overtaken by Hyde makes the reader wonder if there was more evil in Jekyll than previously anticipated
        • 'I was radically both'
    • science
      • his controversial experiments lost him the respect of one of his oldest friends, Dr Lanyon
        • 'such unscientific balderdash'
      • his experiments cross the boundary of science and religion, very topical due to the Theory of Evolution by Darwin in the period, and people were concerned that abandoning  religion would breed evil
      • the scientific discoveries in the 19th Century challenged religion and Jekyll uses science to challenge religious beliefs that people should lead lives free of sin
      • his experiments leave the physical world and delve into the supernatural, a risky and controversial area in this period
        • 'the direction of my studies, which led wholly toward the mystic and transdental'
      • Jekyll was born into a wealthy family and well educated, which both allowed him to work as a brilliant scientist, but also placed him in a rigorous society
        • 'with every guarantee of an honourable and distinguished future'
    • dual nature
      • the idea of making a potion appeals to Jekyll in an attempt to rid himself of his evil side
        • 'I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life'
      • Jekyll enjoys indulging in his evil side without having to bear a guilty conscience
        • 'relieved of all that was unbearable'
      • he is so desperate to separate his two sides he turns to a potion that could kill him, yet all he does is releases his bad side that had previously been suppressed
        • 'how, then, were they dissociated?'
      • Jekyll treats Hyde like a different person, creating a completely different identity for his evil side, to the extent he furnishes a house in Soho, and employs a housekeeper for Hyde
      • Jekyll chooses Soho and desses Hyde plainly in order to prevent suspicion, it is more believable if a man of sin is from a lower class, he has no reputation to protect
      • Jekyll alternates between referring to Hyde in the first and third person, showing how he struggles to accept that Hyde is part of him even though he knows man has a dual nature
        • 'He, I say - I cannot say, I'
      • He frequently finds ways to distance himself from Hyde by highlighting the differences between them
        • 'I find it in my heart to pity him'
      • Jekyll and Hyde are polar opposites, both in appearance and personality.
        • Hyde: 'callous' 'dwarfish' 'damnable'
        • Jekyll: 'kindness' 'a tall fine build' 'all men's respect'

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