Sympathy in Jekyll and Hyde

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ecarter02
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In our mock English literature exam we have to write about sympathy in Jekyll and Hyde, can anyone help me with some ideas?
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jamesg2
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I assumme when you refer to "sympathy” the question is asking what sympathy you - as the reader - have for both of these characters.

Looking at Edward Hyde:-
First, although described by Enfield and others as potentially violent - essentially he is not a violent character. I can hear you replying "what on earth are you talking about"?? With regard to the young girl - it is she who bumps into him. He does not approach her. The woman Hyde meets on his way to Lanyon's to be transferred back to jekyll, it is she who approacjes him at a very difficult time. He is desperate to get back to Jackyll. If anything it is impatience that he has been stopped when he is desperate to get to Lanyon's. Yes I can hear you point out the violent murder of Sir Danvers Carew. two months prior to that moment jekyll has deprived Hyde of the potion. Jekyll is unaware that stopping the the dosage of the potion will affect Hyde. When he does take the potion - the night of Carew's murder - Jekyll immediately becomes aware that Hyde is very unstable and extremely angry. So Jekyll has a portion of responsibility for what happens. In addition the attack on Danvers Carew does not begin immediately Carew approaches Hyde. Look at the section and look at Hyde's reactions to what Carew is asking him. His reactions demonstrate that he is clearly irritated by Carew and what he says to him. Carew's original character was called Lemsome and was a young homosexual. Clearly he was propositioning Hyde. Chaging the character to Carew introduces the theme of Hyde being anti-authority and the governing classes. This meeting was in an earlier draft of the novel - before Lemsome was changed to Carew - and so it is worth asking what was it that Carew was saying that clearly angered Hyde. Also note the encouragement and delight by Jekyll during the attack.

The central point is this. The time length of the novel is around 12 years. Ten years up to the opening of the novella and around two years during the novella. There is no other incident of violence described.

So what has Jekyll/Hyde done during all these years, He has spent his time exploring the sexual areas of London for his own gratification.

Second, Hyde is exploited by Jekyll for his own peprsonal gratification. And when Hyde frightens jekyll, like when he transfored back into himself while Jekyll was sleeping Jekyll isolates himm and does not take to portion.

Third, not taking the potion regularly has a detromental affect on Hyde. It changes his temprement and character.

Fourth, Jekyll is unaware - until too late - that taking the portion affects Hyde's psyche and his strength. He grows more powerful and not until very late in the story does Jekyll realise this. When Jekyll does realise this it at a point that jekyll realises that Hyde could be a danger to himself.

I feel sympathy for Hyde. Jekyll uses him for his own purposes and pleasures and dismisses him when it suits him.. It is no accident that his house has two entrances; the workers entrance for Hyde and the main entrance for himself.

Looking at Henry Jekyll:-

First, Jekyll is bacically a good man. It was his desire to find a way to eradicate the evil in man. Yes Lanyon was dismissive of this idea, but still it was a worthy ideal.

Second, Jekyll although he had multiple degrees and was respected doctor - he was also a man seeking personal pleasures. The day that jekyll succeded in creating Hyde was the same day his reseach stopped. From that day on he transformed into Hyde and roamed the pleasure spots in London.

Third jekyll was also selfish. Having created Hyde he realised he could commit any sin he wanted and know that the blame would be placed on Hyde. Hyde gave Jekyll a licience to do whatever he wanted without being seen to be responsible.

Fourth. Aside from being selfish jekyll was also a lazy man. Giving up his reseach to acquire all the pleasures he wanted he was - until too late - ignorant of the fact the potion had an inbuilt error that had fundamental consequences on Hyde. Had he continued his reseach he might have spotted these consequences.

Jekyll is your traditional tradgic character who has an inbuilt flaw - in his case the desire for personal pleasure - that he is unaware of until it is too late.

I imagine most have sympathy for Jekyll and little sympathy for Hyde. It is the opposite for me. Until his experiment succeeded Jekyll was a good and respected man. But that all changed the moment Hyde was created. The worst characteristics of jekyll - selfishness and lazyness - become his driving forces. I respected the Jekyll before the experiment succeeded. However once the experiment did succed the worst in Jekyll came to the front.

Comparing the two. Hyde is an honest man and is what he has been created the person that has been changed through the experiment. Yes Hyde can be a brutal man - such as in the murder of Carew - but he is what he was made to be. And he had no hand in that. There may be good in Jekyll but the novella describes the different and unpleasant characteristics that are also part of the man.
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ecarter02
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Wow, I never thought that you could have sympathy for Hyde, I never thought that the only reason that Hyde reacted the way he did was because of Jekylls selfishness. This is definitely helped me be more open to the novel and more sympathetic towards Hyde. Thank you!
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jamesg2
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Yes, I agree it is strange to have sympathy for Hyde. The traditional criticisms on the novella - note it is a novella and not a novel - are very harsh on Hyde. It does not help that Utterson and Enfield are good friend of Jekyll. Have you noted the moment when after Carew's murder Utterson sees the broken cane. He know it belongs to Jekyll. However he does not tell anyone because - and this is really interesting - Hyde has now vanished and so there is no reason to implicate Jekyll. he is a flawed character - there are quite a few moments like that - however traditional criticisms are respectful to him. Indeed he is one of the central characters. There is little criticism of him.

The murder of Carew changes perception on him and blinds everyone the responsibility of Jekyll. Although Enfield referred to him as a "juggernaut" because he was insensitive to having injured the young girl. However I have yet to see anyone mention what was really happening. Yes the person who was seen by Enfield was Hyde, but actually it was Jekyll in the guise of Hyde who was walking back. Hyde gets the blame but actually it was Jekyll in a different form. Some see them as two different people, whereas actually they are one person with two psyche's. Yes the physical form when Carew is murdered is Hyde, however look over Jekyll's statement when he describes Carew's murder. It is not impossible to say that they both share the responsibility. Looking at the feelings Jekyll feels as the murder is carried out it is possible to argue that the primary force is the psyche of Jekyll.

One thing that struck me when I wrote my student notes on J&H was that he was someone who kept to himself. Now whether that "person" was actually Jekyll rather than Hyde and wanted to be invisible one thing is a fact. Hyde/Jekyll never approached anyone. He always kept to himself. The three incidents come about when others approach him - including the girl bumping into him. The Jekyll/Hyde person always kept to himself.

The question I asked two RLS professors whom I contacted while creating my notes was what on earth was Jekyll/Hyde doing all these time he went wandering in London. Remember we are talking of about seven years - if we assume it too Jekyll five years to have his experiment succeed. The only answer I could get was that it was for personal sexual pleasure. The question that begs to be answered is "whose" pleasure. The answer is not Hyde; it was for Jekyll's pleasure. And that is one reason the Hyde character keeps to himself. Jekyll does not want to be interrupted or recognised.

When I first started work on the novella I saw Jekyll's clause in his will as a generous gift to Hyde. But later I realised it was not generous. It was pure selfishness. If his psyche disappeared then protecting Hyde allowed Jekyll to continue to live and continue his pleasure.

It was really at this time that I began to view Jekyll in a different way.
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ecarter02
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(Original post by jamesg2)
Yes, I agree it is strange to have sympathy for Hyde. The traditional criticisms on the novella - note it is a novella and not a novel - are very harsh on Hyde. It does not help that Utterson and Enfield are good friend of Jekyll. Have you noted the moment when after Carew's murder Utterson sees the broken cane. He know it belongs to Jekyll. However he does not tell anyone because - and this is really interesting - Hyde has now vanished and so there is no reason to implicate Jekyll. he is a flawed character - there are quite a few moments like that - however traditional criticisms are respectful to him. Indeed he is one of the central characters. There is little criticism of him.

The murder of Carew changes perception on him and blinds everyone the responsibility of Jekyll. Although Enfield referred to him as a "juggernaut" because he was insensitive to having injured the young girl. However I have yet to see anyone mention what was really happening. Yes the person who was seen by Enfield was Hyde, but actually it was Jekyll in the guise of Hyde who was walking back. Hyde gets the blame but actually it was Jekyll in a different form. Some see them as two different people, whereas actually they are one person with two psyche's. Yes the physical form when Carew is murdered is Hyde, however look over Jekyll's statement when he describes Carew's murder. It is not impossible to say that they both share the responsibility. Looking at the feelings Jekyll feels as the murder is carried out it is possible to argue that the primary force is the psyche of Jekyll.

One thing that struck me when I wrote my student notes on J&H was that he was someone who kept to himself. Now whether that "person" was actually Jekyll rather than Hyde and wanted to be invisible one thing is a fact. Hyde/Jekyll never approached anyone. He always kept to himself. The three incidents come about when others approach him - including the girl bumping into him. The Jekyll/Hyde person always kept to himself.

The question I asked two RLS professors whom I contacted while creating my notes was what on earth was Jekyll/Hyde doing all these time he went wandering in London. Remember we are talking of about seven years - if we assume it too Jekyll five years to have his experiment succeed. The only answer I could get was that it was for personal sexual pleasure. The question that begs to be answered is "whose" pleasure. The answer is not Hyde; it was for Jekyll's pleasure. And that is one reason the Hyde character keeps to himself. Jekyll does not want to be interrupted or recognised.

When I first started work on the novella I saw Jekyll's clause in his will as a generous gift to Hyde. But later I realised it was not generous. It was pure selfishness. If his psyche disappeared then protecting Hyde allowed Jekyll to continue to live and continue his pleasure.

It was really at this time that I began to view Jekyll in a different way.
Could you say that as the novel ends you start to feel sympathetic towards Jekyll because he realises his mistakes and wants it to end? He feels the need to commit suicide to escape it. I feel like this is the only moment that I really feel bad for him considering his selfishness.
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ecarter02
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I had another thought, could you feel sympathy for Jekyll because he was so concerned with what society thought of him that he repressed his desires. Could you say that society is responsible for him wanting a change in his life.
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jamesg2
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Although I doubt your teacher will mark you down on it, J&H is not a novel, it is a novella. Might be an idea to use the correct terminology. In addition worth remebering that the novella does not have chapters. The novella is entitled “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” The critical word is “Case.” the novella is a detective case where the reader - through Utterson - tries to unravel what is going on. So if not chapters what are the sections. They are documents in the form of first hand accounts - in the case of Utterson - memories and letters.

As to the idea of Jekyll gaining your sympathy towards the end of the novella - that would work.

Worth remmembering that for the most part of the novella Jekyll fights a prolonged war with Utterson regarding the clause in the Will. However - and unknown to Utterson untill J&H are dead - Jekyll changed his mind and his Will. He does not now leave his estate to Hyde but to Utterson. He has decided that he does not want Hyde to survive him, where as the war with Utterson was all about allowing Hyde to succeed him.

So yes, it would be a logical interpretation to suggest that towards the end of his life Jekyll regrets his past and tries to make up for his mistakes by commiting suicide. By doing that he is also ensuring Hyde does not survive. That is important that jekyll also kills Hyde. The fact that has shocked jekyll is that effectively Hyde is on his way to becoming independent. The only way to stop that is for Jekyll to kill himself and in doing so also kill Hyde. The scream at the end is probably Hyde realising he is being killed. The last part of jekyll's “full statement” he makes clear that it is going to be a near thing whether he completes his statement before Hyde takes over his body. And if he does, Jekyll has no way back. He has used the last of his potion. You could also point out that his statement is also a acknowledgement of the errors in his life.

So yes. The end of the novella is a point where you can genuinely feel sympathy for jekyll.

Regarding the idea of repressed desires absolutely. Although not his stated purpose, you could suggest that Hyde is a means whereby Jekyll can can have his desires without being recognised. For a man of his standing in. society - a person holding four awards and degrees - if society discovered what he really was it would be the end of him. Although RLS on the advice of Fanny - his wife - deleted and downgraded the hints of homosexuality { which was a primary theme in the early drafts and is now virtually erased ) had it been known that Jekyll had been associated with such a thing would have ended in a criminal court case. And so - just as in criminal activity - Hyde was Jekyll'd scape goat. If caught it would be Hyde who had been caught and Hyde who was responsible and he Jekyll was innocent.
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Xavier Demetre
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What inbuilt error did the potion have? (Sorry, my English is weak so find it dificult to understand)
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MR freshman 2017
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Jekyll and Hyde is one of my fav books
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jamesg2
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The "inbuilt error" that I refer to is a curruption of one of the compounds that makes up the potion. Whatever this curruption was, it was that which allowed the potion to work. It was not until it was too late that Jekyll became aware of this point. By then it was too late because another connsequence he had also overlooked was that the compound allowed the Hyde psyche to grow in strength.

You will find all this at the end of Jekyll's statement.
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gaylord297
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no
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LarissaAlves
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Those are amazing answers! wow!

Also, if you just want to quickly revise the book, there is this course here, which is totally free and has loads of summaries and practice questions - https://app.senecalearning.com/class...a-6f57cfa13a6c
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jamesg2
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Thank you for your question.

If I may be permitted to make an observation, it is not always helpful to isolate a few words and expect explanation. Context - I feel - is essential to the understanding of meaning. The quote you have identified comes from Jekyll’s full statement. It centres on the emotions and feelings that Henry Jekyll had after returning from one of his excursions as Edward Hyde. The full paragraph is below.

“When I would come back from these excursions, I was often plunged into a kind of wonder at my vicarious depravity. This familiar that I called out of my own soul, and sent forth alone to do his good pleasure, was a being inherently malign and villainous; his every act and thought centred on self; drinking pleasure with bestial avidity from any degree of torture to another; relentless like a man of stone. Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde; but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde. And thus his conscience slumbered. ”

At the heart of this novella is an understanding of what Robert Louis Stevenson meant by “duality.” The simplistic explanation is that we are talking about two different individuals who in habit their own body mass. I would argue that is not what Stevenson meant. He is referring to a single individual who had the ability to change both his personality and certain physical characteristics.

So to put it simply Henry Jekyll is Edward Hyde and Edward Hyde is Henry Jekyll. Ot to put it even more simply there only is Henry Jekyll. Whenever we read about Edward Hyde we are really seeing Henry Jekyll transformed by a medical potion.

The problem is that the medical potion has the ability to change certain physical aspects of the anatomy. This allows others to believe there are seeing another person - when infant what they are seeing is Henry Jekyll who has undergone certain physical changes as a result of taking the potion.

At the heart of this duality problem is Henry Jekyll’s ability to separate these personalities and create the illusion that Edward Hyde is not Henry Jekyll. Henry Jekyll appears able to believe that when he is under the powers of the potion he is not Henry Jekyll - he is a different person called Edward Hyde. But the truth is he is Henry Jekyll at all times.

I apologise if I have spent a long time on this issue, but in my view it is a point needing to be understood to be able to properly interpret this passage and the novella.

Now for a detailed explanation of your quotation.

At the beginning of the passage Henry Jekyll comments “When I would come back from these excursions, I was often plunged into a kind of wonder at my vicarious depravity.” Henry Jekyll is a pillar of London society. However the irony is that he is a flawed character who - and this is a complete surprise to him - deep inside him enjoys the sexual and depraved behaviour that is only made visible when in the character of Edward Hyde.

He is utterly shocked by what he - Henry Jekyll - was like and behaved like when he was Edward Hyde. As he says he saw a man who was “being inherently malign and villainous; his every act and thought centred on self; drinking pleasure with bestial avidity from any degree of torture to another; relentless like a man of stone.” Henry Jekyll’s language is really interesting. He says he “saw a man.” He is not prepared either here - or elsewhere in the novella - to take ownership of who he really is - especially when under the powers of the potion. Henry Jekyll maintains it is not he who committed these actins - it is/was someone else. Throughout the novella Henry Jekyll is in complete denial of this point that Edward Hyde is actually Henry Jekyll. And what Edward Hyde does has actually been carried out by Henry Jekyll.

To pick up your actual quote Henry Jekyll enjoys his behaviour when out on an excursion as Edward Hyde. However he is also shocked when he remembers Hyde’s “drinking pleasure with bestial avidity from any degree of torture to another; relentless like a man of stone.” As Henry Jekyll he would never involve himself in the kinds of drinking that he indulged in as Edward Hyde. There is an irony here. The Victorian morality that Henry Jekyll personifies in London public is just a mirage. The real Henry Jekyll is described by the behaviour of Edward Hyde. It comes as a real shock to Henry Jekyll to discover that deep down he is that kind of a man.

One of the themes that Fanny Stevenson - his wife - was unhappy with was the pronounced description of homosexuality in the first draft of the novella. Partly because there was a heated argument between Robert and his wife that resulted in Stevenson throwing his first draft into the fire and burning it and patly because he took on his wife’s criticism the issue of homosexuality was removed from the final draft. The said, the reference to “bestial avidity” is one of the few references about the issue of homosexuality that still remain in the novella.

At the end of the passage is the most serious criticism of Henry Jekyll. His total disregard to taking ownership of his actions colours him far worse than any criticisms of Edward Hyde. In a completely cynical reflection Henry Jekyll says “It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde. And thus his conscience slumbered.” Because he is able to change into and out of Edward Hyde, Henry Jekyll refuses to take any responsibility for his actions.
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