Key Themes for Mr Hyde


Violence

We’re well aware of the fact that Hyde is a violent individual due to the fact that the first instance of introduction to his character consists of a story regarding him trampling a little girl, causing her serious physical damage, and trying to pay his way out of the consequences. He then goes on to murder Sir Danvers Carew, and emotionally torment Jekyll out of spite throughout the rest of the novel. Hyde is said to be “astute” or quick-witted, which means he’s well aware of his actions and their consequences, and yet goes through with them regardless- this portrays him as a reckless, heartless individual. He’s comparable to the human impersonation of the Freudian concept of the “Id”, which refers to the metaphorical “devil on the shoulder”, consisting mainly of evil acts that our “Superego” (or awareness of societal expectations) corrects and stops us from committing. Hyde doesn’t seem to posses a Superego at all.

Repression

The idea of repressing one’s desires is displayed very well in the character of Mr Hyde, especially in the fact of his existence. The themes of repression and violence go hand in hand here, due to the fact that Hyde seems to act out of spite. When Jekyll chooses to live a Hyde-free, sober life for a while, and turns back into Hyde after an extended period of time Hyde murders Carew, as if to show Jekyll he’s not be cast aside. This also could be because Jekyll repressed his desires of evil acts for an extensive period of time, which could lead him to act out in one of the worst ways imaginable. Imagine the string of a bow being pulled; the longer you pull it, the more force it will apply to an arrow. The idea of repression in Jekyll is also a contextual factor, as Jekyll was a Victorian gentleman and expected to remain perfectly agreeable which means he must repress his desires to commit less-than-respectable acts, which in turn leads to the creation of Hyde as a means of doing whatever Jekyll’s heart desired and remaining perfectly reputable.

Science and Religion

Hyde is born of scientific advancements, and his sheer existence goes against the religious, Evangelical consensus of the time period. Had the general public been aware of Jekyll’s experiment, he would be cast out of high social circles under the pretences of disrespecting God’s creation by attempting to form his own. The fact that Hyde exists within the novel can be interpreted as Stevenson’s commentary on scientific advances, as science within the novel is presented as unpredictable and dangerous (much alike Mr Hyde.) This could be viewed as both an ethical as well as a religious standpoint, due to the fact that one may not agree with creation of individuals in a lab, or the fact that science of said kind is not researched enough to know the consequences of conducting such experiments. This also depicts a parallel in current scientific discourse, as well as said discourse throughout the last couple of decades regarding genetic engineering, including cloning and such, which highlights Stevenson’s very relevant commentary in the area.