The Problem Of Evil In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein And Robert Stevenson’s The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said “The battle between good and evil runs through the heart of every man”. This problem is presented in the novel Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley and the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, written by Robert Stevenson. The novel Frankenstein talks about the protagonist Victor Frankenstein and his quest to create new life. This new life also called the creature, soon turns into his enemy and he is on a path for revenge. In the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a london lawyer named Mr. Utterson investigates a mysterious occurrence between his old friend Dr Jekyll and his evil side Edward Hyde. Both novels illustrate that in society a person may appear good to the human eye, however the evil that lurks within an otherwise respected person may not be detected.
Victor and Dr Jekyll both have internal conflict as their creations were supposed to benefit them for good, but it brought detrimental effects to their life. Victor is in grief as his creation has lead to situations of pure crime and evil. As the death of William has been spread around society, Justine has been convicted of committing the murder. As the trial begins Victor contemplates about the harm he has brought to his family. In sorrow Victor reveals, “A thousand times rather would I have confessed myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine… a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman, and would not have exculpated her who suffered through me”.
Victor’s creation was not supposed to abolish his family, the internal conflict Victor experiences is that Justine is experiencing the suffering that Victor should be feeling, Victor is responsible for the monster actions and should be convicted for the crime. Victor has a positive side as he understands the effects his creation has brought on Justine and William, but his evil side is portrayed as he is not able to be upfront about his actions. Inside there is still thoughts about being opinionated by society, Victor risks his own family to cover up the terrible creation Victor has made. Furthermore, Victor does not only portray internal conflict because of his guiltiness, but the fact how is life will change if people found out the truth. He believes that the monster actions will represent him, and Victor does not want to be seen as a person who created the monster.
The evil Victor portrays by letting his family members take the blame for the actions of the monster, shows how Victor is the true monster even though he meant good intentions by feeling in sorrow and feeling guilty. His internal conflict shows his good side as he does not want his family to be blamed for his actions, but at the sametime he is in conflict with himself for what society will think of him for his creation, and this causes him to make evil decisions in his life.
Similarly, Dr Jekyll has internal conflict as his potion turns him into a person that is evil. Such as when Dr jekyll leaves letters for Utterson explaining his double life as his good side turns into evil. This is when Dr Jekyll states, “I have observed that when I wore the semblance of Edward Hyde, … This, as I take it, was because all human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil”. The internal conflict that is portrayed is how Dr Jekyll made the potion to express his feelings without feeling guilty, at the same time not perishing his good name. Furthermore, it shows his internal conflict as he names his transformed ego a different name, Hyde is basically a disguise to cover, Dr Jekyll’s is in remorse as he enjoys being Hyde. In addition, it conveys that Dr Jekyll is a depressed man hiding his violent urges, he feels bad for not wanting to face consequences for his action.
Both Dr Jekyll and Victor have internal conflict as their actions cause them for feel guilty, at the same time they both have an understanding of their good and evil side, their internal conflict is the regret they have when they transition to their evil side. This presents the internal conflict that both protagonist have, their evil side causes many horrific situations in their life. It presents that a man could be either good or evil, but society can only see the pure hearted side. Both Victor and Jekyll have evil sides, the shame they have show their empathy, but the evil side is superior as they do nothing to fix their actions. (need a transition to next argument)
Both protagonist develop traits of secrecy as their inventions causes both men to make decisions that affect their relationship with the people in society. Victor’s creation causes him to be anxious as the monster cannot be found out by his long time friend Henry. As Henry reaches Ingolstadt, Victor explains how busy he is without going into major detail. Victor soon invites Henry to his apartment, in anxiouses Victor ponders “I dreaded to behold this monster, but I feared still more that Henry should see him”.
Victor is more concerned about Henry finding out what he has been working on for the past years, rather than there safety. Victors secrecy ruins his relationship with Henry as he is not himself, Victor does not show the fear he has but rather shows pride to Henry to cover up his emotions. Henry has always thought of Victor as an intelligent young man, Victor believes that if he explains his suffering Henry would lose his admiration for him as a scientist. This causing their relationship to be vastly different as Henry would be put in a superior position as he helps Victor, which is something Victor is not used to.
Equally important Dr Jekyll develops traits of secrecy as he is fear of ruining his well known name. In the letter Dr Jekyll wrote before his death, he states his perception about his two sides by saying “ Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; …I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of me…I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame”. Dr Jekyll keeps his evil side a secret as he wants to portray a person with a high social status in society. Dr Jekyll wants his actions to remain hidden, so that he can fit in society.
The decision of keeping his evil side a secret causes his evil side to be more stronger and more detrimental when it releases, this is due to the reason that Dr Jekyll’s emotions are suppressed for a very long time. This affects his relationship with society as when Dr Jekyll turns evil he ends up committing crimes, this leaves him more vulnerable for people in society finding the truth about him. Ultimately, Dr Jekyll and Victor both develop secrecy for selfish purposes, they are both ashamed and want to keep their evil suppressed to maintain an high social status. This jeopardizing their relationship with friends and society. Both protagonist hide their evil side in hopes of the society only knows them for being well respected scientist, they are not suspected as evil as they will do anything to protect their name.
Through the portrayal of character, both societies present a positive attitude towards Victor and Dr Jekyll, but inside are still evil thoughts and feelings that causes self destruction. Victors over ambitious character may look inspirational to society, but can lead to a path of self destruction. When Victors whole family is dead he leaves Geneva in search of revenge, he travels through ice and snow, and this is where he meets Walton and tells him his story. In that story he mentions, “What comment can I make on the ultimately extinction of this glorious spirit?”. Victor is in despair as he lectures Walton about the dangers of uncontrolled ambitions, Victor’s quest for knowledge turned more into a sin, as throughout his journey he suffered many deaths of his loved ones, and abandoned relationships he has kept for many years. These sacrifices meant nothing in the end, as he is in sorrow for the mistakes he has committed throughout his journey. Victor is unable to face up to the consequences as his goal to create new life appeared memorable to society, but Victors evil and his over ambitious character causes him to self destruct.
On the contrary Dr Jekyll ambition was to use science to benefit himself, but Dr Jekyll wanted to be evil, him wanting to be evil and maintaining his good name caused self destruction. For instance, during Dr Jekyll’s final statement he states “ At that time my virtue slumbered; my evil, kept awake by ambition, was alert and swift to seize the occasion; and the thing that was projected was Edward Hyde”. Dr Jekyll repressed his evilness, so Hyde can come out stronger, the use of his potions were to divide the nature of man and bring his darker side out. This ambition of being happy and maintaining a good social status causes destruction as Hyde takes over and kills Dr Jekyll to continue his evil play.
Eventually, both Dr Jekyll and Victor have a character trait of being over ambitious as they take their goals to an extreme, both of their goals caused them both self destruction as they sacrificed many aspects of their life, such as friends and family for Victor and Dr Jekyll sacrificed his real emotions by suppressing it. To society both goals seem fine as they try to use science to create new life and separate both good and evil, but society could not see the evil purposes for these experiments, and now both protagonist try covering up these mistake so their evil goes undetected by society.
Society may respect a person on how they act when people are observing, but society cannot uncover the true evil that ponders through a well respected man. Both Victor and Dr Jekyll experience internal conflict as there experiments brought depair to their life. In addition, Victor and Dr Jekyll develop traits of secrecy, as their hide every aspect of their life, thus affecting their relationship with family and society. Finally, through the portrayal of character both protagonists have goals, but there over ambitious character causes them to self destruct.
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