Discuss how Hyde is presented at various stages in the novel.

Throughout the novella, Stevenson presents Hyde as a callous, unadmirable figure. Such descriptions begin as early as chapter 1: The Story of the Door. In this chapter, Stevenson uses allegories when referring to and describing settings and what they intend to symbolise; London’s lively and thriving atmosphere contrasts starkly with the description of the door to Jekyll’s laboratory. Stevenson describes one London street as having “freshly painted shutters, well-polished brasses and cleanliness and gaiety”, however, the door was “blistered and distained” and “a schoolboy had tried his knife on the mouldings”. One can see that the buildings and settings Stevenson describes reflective the personalities and characteristics of their inhabitants. The derelict and abandoned part of the door suggests that Hyde’s is careless, so much so that he does not care about either himself or how he appears to society, nor the impacts he has inflicted upon other characters (e.g. the girl he trampled on which is being discussed in this chapter). The fact that even “a schoolboy” had attempted to damage the door may further present Hyde as being disregarded by everyone in society - even a child has the capacity to understand that Hyde is the ‘runt’ of society.

 

In addition to this, Stevenson presents Hyde as an outcast and almost as an ‘anomaly’ in society as in this time period, many men regarded their reputation and the way they presented themselves as very important and would strive to be seen as a gentlemen - Stevenson’s creation of the character Mr Hyde contrasts with such expectations. Stevenson chooses to present Hyde as a disreputable character that has a low standing in society as Hyde’s broken cane is symbolic of his identity as a gentleman as its breaking represents how Hyde will not be able to walk through society freely as he is a suspected murderer.  Furthermore, Stevenson may have tried to emphasise how conspicuous the character of Hyde is when describing his appearance; Enfield says there is “something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable”. Stevenson may have done this not only to illustrate Hyde’s observable deformities, but to also show the somewhat unnerving nature of Hyde as no other character is able to identify what is “wrong” with him. This is perhaps a societal comment by Stevenson - other characters cannot find what is “wrong” with Hyde as he is a reflection of all of their own bad deeds and desires which they have chosen to purposefully ignore and repress. This could mean that Hyde is presented as a ‘wake up call’ for readers of the novella.

 

In the extract from chapter 4: The Carew Murder Case, Stevenson presents the character of Hyde as, evidently, ruthless. Hyde “broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping out his foot, brandishing his cane” as he goes about his quest of killing. The fact that “bones were audibly shattered” further emphasises Stevenson’s attempt to present Hyde as the worst of the worst. The severity of the assault is exemplified here as the gruesome description has a sickening effect on the reader. Moreover, Stevenson also displays Hyde’s sadistic character here which may shock and frighten a reader, leading to a development of hatred towards Hyde. Stevenson presents Hydes as a primitive figure, both physically and mentally, as he attacks Carew “with ape-like fury”, suggesting that Hyde is more like an animal than he is a human.

 

While some readers could feel pity towards Hyde at points in the novel for Hyde as they may feel that he does not have the mental capacity to control himself, however, such feelings may be halted when the reader considers the fact that Hyde yearns for more control over Jekyll who is ultimately incapable of controlling him. The fact that Carew, a respectable man, and Hyde were alone at night in a disreputable area may have been purposefully included by Stevenson to illustrate the controlling nature of Hyde and the hold he has upon Jekyll. This action alone threatens Hyde’s reputation and, due to his perceived close relationship with Jekyll, the Dr’s also. This may suggest that Hyde has such control over Jekyll that, now, he does this for his own pleasure, as Hyde, rather than completing Jekyll’s requests. This is clear in the extract as “Mr Hyde broke out of all bounds” suggesting he is no longer restraining himself and is literally breaking away from the Jekyll section of his character.

 

Stevenson also presents the character of Hyde as a paradox, in a sense, as Stevenson chooses to use the word “conceived” right before the attack on Carew which ended his life; this has an ironic tone as “conceived” is used in relation to the start of new life, but in this context, is used just before the ending of someone else's life - it could also symbolise the beginning of Hyde’s reign.

 

Towards the end of the novella, Stevenson primarily refers to the character of Hyde through the impacts and experiences of other characters; this in itself may have been purposeful in order to present the nature of Hyde and to demonstrate that his actions are so extreme that it has clear impacts on other characters. An example of this can be seen in chapter 9: Lanyon’s Narrative as Jekyll’s “face became suddenly black and his features seemed to melt and alter”. Shortly after Landon sees Jekyll/Hyde’s transformation, he falls ill and dies - something which may have been done by Stevenson in order to emphasise the extremity of the situation. The quote in itself allows Stevenson to present the character of Hyde as ferocious and barbaric as Stevenson may have suggested this in a physical and metaphorical sense - Hyde may have committed so many crimes and bad deeds that it has flawed his appearance completely, even during transformations. Such evidence of a chain of bad doings can be seen in chapter 1 when Enfield describes the women being “as wild as harpies” after finding out that Hyde trampled over the little girl. Contextually, harpies were winged monsters with a woman’s face who avenged wrong-doings in Greek mythology - this coincides with the latter point.

 

For Stevenson, Hyde is the manifestation of everything which is wrong with his society. Repression of desires, Stevenson seemingly implies through Hyde, cannot be contained and will ultimately burst through and destroy society.

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