Good vs. evil is basically the novel’s biggest theme. More specifically, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is easily viewed as an allegory about the good and evil that exist in all men, and about our struggle with these two sides of the human personality. In this book, then, the battle between good and evil rages within the individual. The question is which is superior. Since Hyde seems to be taking over, one could argue that evil is stronger than good. However, Hyde does end up dead at the end of the story, perhaps suggesting a weakness or failure of evil. The big question, of course, is whether or not good can be separated from evil, or whether the two are forever intertwined.
Repression is indisputably a cause of the troubles in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The repression here is that of Victorian England: no sexual appetites, no violence, and no great expressions of emotion, at least in the public sphere. Everything is sober and dignified, and you’re really not supposed to be happy. (That would somehow take away from your focus on morality). The more Dr. Jekyll’s forbidden appetites are repressed, the more he desires the life of Mr. Hyde, and the stronger Mr. Hyde becomes. This is clearly demonstrated after Dr. Jekyll’s two-month hiatus from donning the visage of Mr. Hyde; Dr. Jekyll finds that the pull to evil has been magnified after months of repression.
Friendship in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde serves to drive the plot forward. Aside from basic curiosity, Mr. Utterson is compelled to uncover the mystery of the evil man because of his friendship with Dr. Jekyll. In trying to unravel the secret, his many friendships deliver crucial pieces of information. In this sense, friendship acts as both a motivator and an enabler. As for the friendship between Dr. Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll, it’s certainly not as unconditional as the loyalty Mr. Utterson bears for Dr. Jekyll. Instead, it’s fraught with competition, anger, and eventually an irreconcilable quarrel. We see that friendships can be ruined by differences of opinion.
Appearances figure in the novel both figuratively and literally. Dr. Jekyll definitely wants to keep up a façade of respectability, even though he has a lot of unsavory tendencies.…