Jekyll And Mr Hyde Character Analysis

932 Words4 Pages
Never judge a book by its cover. This common idiom advises against making conclusions based on looks, but in Robert Louis Stevenson 's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, many readers use appearance to determine the morality of the characters. This deduction, while fitting for a book set in Victorian London where the practice was common, is not the intention of Stevenson. In the book, Dr. Jekyll creates a potion to separate his good and evil personalities. While his "evil" version has an inferior appearance, Dr. Jekyll cannot boast of having superior moral standing than Mr. Hyde. Using this novel, Stevenson critiques the Victorian social hierarchy and shows superficial deductions are not accurate through Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll, and Mr.…show more content…
Adhering to Lombroso 's beliefs is Mr. Hyde, a man who gives Enfield "a strong feeling of deformity, although [he] couldn 't specify the point" (Stevenson 5). Stevenson introduces this man to readers as someone so despicable he can run over a young girl without looking back. Based on the crowd 's and Enfield 's reactions to Mr. Hyde, his appearance is as deplorable as his behavior. This reaction emphasizes the power appearance has in creating assumptions. These people have only just met Mr. Hyde, but this singular action and his appearance are enough for the crowd to make judgments. As Darwin discusses in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, animalistic behavior and appearance are linked a more violent person (qtd. in Stevenson 157). Specifically, Darwin emphasizes the action of sneering, defining it as "uncovering the canine tooth on one side" (158). This facial expression draws attention to the mouth in a threatening manner, and the canine tooth has the association with dogs and wolves. Within the first chapter, Mr. Enfield notes Mr. Hyde as having "sneering coolness" (Stevenson 3) and being "easy and sneering" (4). These animalistic tendencies create a negative association towards Mr. Hyde, but beauty is not the best way to judge character in…show more content…
While Hyde 's morality is apparent in his appearance, Dr. Jekyll is not as morally superior as his looks may suggest. Opposed to Mr. Hyde 's abhorrent appearance, Dr. Jekyll has a "large handsome face" and an established, well-regarded reputation (Stevenson 19). The impression of Dr. Jekyll is one of good nature and respectability, but the doctor is a morally suspect character with his main flaw being selfishness. After the murder of Carew, Dr. Jekyll 's main concern is his reputation, which shocks Utterson (19). Mr. Utterson 's surprise at this comment reflects this idea of the time: a well-groomed man must be in good moral standing; therefore, this unashamed selfishness is surprising. In Julia Wedgewood 's review, she draws attention to Stevenson 's representation of "the individualizing influence of modern democracy in its more concentrated form" (qtd. in Stevenson 137). While Mr. Hyde performs the crimes, Dr. Jekyll is the one who freed this evil and maintains the responsibility for Mr. Hyde 's actions. In his letter, Jekyll admits to allowing his conscience to blame the incidents entirely on Mr. Hyde (Stevenson 46). Due to his selfish nature, Dr. Jekyll distances himself from Mr. Hyde to claim innocence and protect
Open Document