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The essay sets out to explore in relation to scientific advances the moral boundaries crossed by Dr. Jekyll with his experiments. In addition, a comparison of this theme with Mary Shelley’s will be established. Moreover, a representation of the double personality of Jekyll and Hyde in relation to Victorian values of morality and respectability is done.
To start with, the novel blurs morality in the sense that it attempts to differ from the original human nature. In this sense, the novel talks of duality of the human personality. It depicts a human being as having two different personalities of good and evil. This means that human beings assume a duality nature; hence, they embody both good and evil characteristics. In that connection, the behavior of a given society is guided by norms and values that contradict this human nature. As a result, the author brings out a human being that can be separated from good and evil, hence assuming a pure morality status. The inner desires that constitute the vice are separated from each person leading to a life guided by the existing social codes. Dr. Jekyll exhibit long repressed emotion that equates love to hate and overwhelmed by impulse. As such, Jekyll does not accept any direct responsibility, which contradicts the real nature of a male human being. In a normal society, a man is expected to take up the responsibilities that are masculine in nature and be liable of the consequences thereafter. Traditionally, men were looked at as the head of the household and their association depicts some sought of masculinity compared to their female counterparts who perform supportive and family chores in the household.
The second experiment, which clearly points the scientific moral boundaries that Jekyll crosses while performing his experiment, is when he decided to experiment on a physically healthy and mentally sound human being. The reason behind this cross as a moral boundary is that Jekyll did not at any point bothered on the dangers he could masquerade to others and himself. In a society that is morally upright, the self and others should be considered in any undertaking. It amounts to immorality when an individual becomes less caring in a societal setting. In the same case, the use of a life human being to carry out an experiment is considered morally wrong in a society. This is because human beings are valued more that any other living being. In that connection, human being should be accorded the respect they deserve. Morality and respectability are two virtues that define a society in relation to behavior.
Moreover, Jekyll practice the unrespectable acts in isolation. This means that he does acts, which go against the morals of society. As a result, the acts are performed in secret with less involvement of the members of the society, relatives or friends. The disrespectful acts are done by Jekyll as Edward Hyde, and at the same time Jekyll appears as a respectable and reputable doctor. The acts lead to Edward Hyde beings despised by the members of the society. His appearance was at all times compared with the Satan, this relates his acts to that of the evil. Eventually, he is rejected by the members of the society and disguised. In practice, society disguise individuals who have acted contrary to the existing norms and values that defines what is wrong and right in the society. When individuals are pure evil, they become outcasts of the society, and as such, they are very isolated from any activity or event that is carried out by the society.
Comparison with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
The two novels deal with scientific experiments that go against the laws of nature. They are dealing with supernatural things that are unknown, hence trying to play God. Dr. Jekyll wants to understand the dual personality of a human being as both evil and good. As such, he tries to separate good from evil because he thinks that if man get rid of the evil life which exclude all the unbearable. In this sense, Jekyll is trying to separate the intellectual from the moral. On the other hand, Dr. Frankenstein in his experiments tries to create a balance between his social and intellectual interactions. His creations reflect his dark side, that is, the embodiment of his evil self. Both of them are, science gone amok. They both refuse to take responsibility for their experiments. This result in outcomes that is disastrous, hence hurting the innocent. In addition, both scientists are overambitious. This is evident by the ability of their experiments controlling them, as well as the deviation and lack of focus on the goal, and eventually allowing their evil twin side to triumph.
Moreover, the two scientists isolate themselves from their close friends and relatives. This is evident when Dr. Jekyll throws away those people who are dear to him. In the case of Dr. Frankenstein, victor pushes away his family. This indicates the extent to which both novels cross the moral boundaries. Nonetheless, the aspirations of both scientists are social, moral, as well as scientific. Dr. Jekyll tries to connect the two in a more precise manner the relation between dual personalities, which Stevenson describing it as a relation between the opposites.
The experiments conducted by the two scientists go against societal ethics. Hence, Henry Jekyll and Victor Frankenstein conduct these experiments in secret without involving their close friends or relatives. Dr. Jekyll creates a side that gives him the opportunity to disguise himself (as Edward Hyde) from the society. This ensured that he does all the evil acts while at the same time maintaining his reputation as a respectable doctor. On the other hand, Frankenstein attempts to play God. This is achieved by taking life as dead flesh. After he succeeded in doing so he keeps it as a secret, but the secret eats him especially when his family is killed by the creature. As such, both scientists are lonely and isolated men.
From the two novels, neither Monster nor Hyde assumes the complete nature of human beings. Both exhibit something that makes society members to fear and reject them. The physical appearance of the monster is ugly while Hyde attaches himself more to his soul as compared to his body. Hyde character is wicked, hideous, and thus it represents evil. Concerning Dr. Frankenstein, it is known to everyone the ugly appearance of the monster. This appearance shocked a lot of people in the society to even shocking the monster when he has a glance of his appearance through a pool water reflection. The ugliness that is depicted by both Mr. Hyde and the creature represents the embodied evil personalities (Schoch 72).
Victorian values of morality and respectability
The representation of Victorian values of morality and respectability in the double personality of Jekyll and Hyde is evident through out the novel. When Dr. Jekyll transforms himself into its shadow side, he experienced some sought of freedom as Schoch (68) says, “I felt younger, lighter, and happier in the body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness, a current of disordered sensual images running like a millrace in my fancy an unknown but not an innocent freedom of soul.” The freedom that he experience is a make-public of his embodied desires and passions that had to be suppressed, even though he was a respectable Victorian gentleman.
The attempt by Henry Jekyll to divide his personality into two was to disconnect the spheres of moral and immoral, or of evil and good. Jekyll notes that “Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look around me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life” (58). This makes the idea of dual personality the central part of the storyline, hence representing the split between what Victorians outwardly saw and what they try to ignore and smother.
The twin part of Jekyll, that is, Mr. Hyde represents the unrepressed desires of homosexuality. His deformed body depicts the homosexual nature of men, and this nature is branded by qualities that are immoral. The description of Mr. Hyde was difficult because there was something wrong concerning his appearance, ideally and as Enfield puts “He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce knew why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point” (Stevenson 12). As a result, the inability of the Victorians to discuss issues touching on homosexual represents their attempt to hide such issues beneath the surface of their societal morality.
Moreover, the nighttime routine of Mr. Hyde suggests the immoral side of his sexual life, as well as violent and horrific acts such as the killing of Sir Danvers Carew. This represents Hyde as a man who was seeking bodily pleasures, since he was alone at a street at night. Nonetheless, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are bachelors and their social interactions are purely with unmarried men. Utterson asks and questions people concerning the whereabouts of Hyde, and yet Victorians maintain that such behavior does not characterize a real man. Real man should be courageous and respectable members of the society.
Scientific advances are considered as the latest improvement development in the modern society. However, such developments should be morally in line with the ethics of the society. As Victorians puts it, morality and respectability are the central aspects of a society’s ethics. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the novel attempt to dispute the law of nature, and, as a result, this lead to disastrous impact on the innocent members of the society. The separation of evil and good, as well as supernaturalism are both fiction. This is because they deal with the unknown and are superficial in nature. As such, the inner passions and desires of individual contradict with the physical appearance of the person. Therefore, people should be in a position to distinguish vice from virtue. The separation will make people’s lives bearable and worth living. The unjust will continue with their unspeakable acts, whereas the just will secure freedom from disrespectful acts.