Character Traits for Dr Jekyll


Ambitious

He can deduce that Jekyll is a man of ambition from the sheer existence of Hyde. He attempts to push the ever-developing scientific advancements even further by creating a potion, a medicine if you will, to cast away the evil in humanity. Of course, he fails and accidentally creates a monster, however that does not actually take away from the ambitious feat that was achieved. Arguably, the desire to become wholly agreeable, or good, is an ambitious feat it itself. This could lead us to conclude that his intentions and ambitions come from the right place, even if the consequences of his actions are undoubtedly evil.

However, as commendable as his never-ending ambition is, it is also our protagonist’s undoing. The fact that he is motivated by his greed of scientific discovery and desire to be wholly good leads him to the creation of a monstrous character, which subsequently self-destroys, taking down Jekyll with him.

 

Troubled

“Je” means “I” in French. “kyll” could equate to “kill” if we consider our author’s Scottish dialect or accent. This, although very vaguely can foreshadow the ending of the novel, where Jekyll, in his suicide note, specifies that he is “bring[ing] the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.” Arguably, one has got to be troubled in order to produce such a statement about themselves. The existence of Hyde can be compared to schizophrenia, or split personality disorder, where sufferers experience manic episodes, and feel as though they are either talking to other people who are not there in reality, or feel as though they are a completely different person, having multiple personalities and alter-egos that switch back and forth.

The idea that one day Jekyll just woke up as Hyde without any recollection of drinking the potion may just depict that the potion was not a necessity because Hyde existed in Jekyll all along, as a form of an alter-ego, or the Freudian “Id”.

 

Respectable

At the beginning of the novel, Stevenson purposely describes Jekyll as a “good influence”, really painting Jekyll as the utmost agreeable fellow. “Good” in this particular case doesn’t just mean the opposite of “bad” but rather a little more biblical, holy, pure type of good, if we are to consider the context of the very Christian, Evangelical England at the time of the novel being written. This is done deliberately to contrast with Hyde’s evil, sinful demeanour.

However, at the end of the novel, we find out Jekyll and Hyde are exactly the same person, which ruins the picture-perfect, respectable reputation of Dr Jekyll. This is said to mirror the behaviour of the Victorian Era gentlemen, who were polite and controlled by day, and immoral and sinful by night.

Lanyon describes Jekyll’s beginning of “go[ing] wrong, wrong in the mind.” which can help us understand that Jekyll, who is superficially a lovely man of solid morale, who is adored by many, with dinner parties and charitable events under his belt, also happens to be the man who trampled a little girl and clubbed an old man to death.