“A man cannot destroy the savage in him by denying its impulses. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield it.”
In “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Dr. Jekyll is a diligent, wise and capable man. The wonderful and honorable future seemed almost guaranteed to him. However, he could not resist his desire for pleasure, and because of his pursuit of perfection, he hides his evil side from society. Jekyll ponders on his duplicity, and eventually concludes that humans have two fundamental natures: good and evil. He assumes that it would be possible to separate each nature through the power of science, and creates a drug dividing good and evil. This leads to the birth of Edward Hyde, a pure evil being, who in turn destroys Jekyll himself.
The author not only reveals the fundamental duality of human beings, but also insinuates good which is susceptible to evil. If it were to be according to Jekyll’s plan, he should have become a pure-hearted person. However, nothing seemed to be changed even after taking the medicine.
The attempts to suppress Hyde and acts of charity are clearly good deeds. But he becomes more and more morally indifferent blaming Hyde for doing misdeeds. This insensibility is the cornerstone for Hyde to gain the upper hand, and Jekyll is eaten up by Hyde in the end. Instead of feeling guilty about Hyde’s crimes and struggling between good and evil, Jekyll preferred to be in the same boat with his avatar. In other words, Jekyll’s tragic ending has started from which he ignored the duplicity of human nature as it was, but to repress evil by dividing two attributes.
Many of the problems in modern society also stem from this shallow thought. A civilized society suppresses impulses through law, custom and religion, as well as prudence and forethought. Some actions are classified as crimes and punished. Otherwise, others are classified as evil and stigmatized as taboos. On the one hand, the common purpose of society is forced on individuals. On the other hand, individuals who have mastered the habit of putting that common good before their lives sacrifice their present for the sake of the future. Do not you think this seems very similar to Dr. Jekyll?
Maybe, our world needs Edward Hyde. Unleashing the shackles, we enter a state of euphoria, and recover the vivid emotions damaged by prudence. As we free our imagination from the prison of order and discipline, it will spread out sheer joy and beauty. Yes, it is true. Freedom means uncertainty; and uncertainty means danger. But when we think of life, it has been always full of danger from the very beginning. And this is the unique part of our life that makes it an adventure. If we do not have any fear to conquer; uncertainties to surmount; conflicts to be settled, what kind of life would that be? It sounds already boring. It does not mean to choose a side. You can be both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, just when you need to be.
By Na Geum-chae