"Jekyll and Hyde": Is Jekyll an imaginative scientist and an irresponsible man?

Essay by EssayMachine7000High School, 11th gradeA, December 2005

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Throughout his life, Stevenson was always interested in mental illness and distortions of the mind and a lot of his novels are based on or involve schizophrenic characters. When growing up he had followed the case of Deacon Brodie - a peaceable cabinet maker by day and murderer by night. In my opinion, he saw the duality as a reflection of his own life; because he too had a split personality. Maybe he was using "Jekyll and Hyde" to portray his own personality.

At the time he wrote "Jekyll and Hyde", Darwin's theories of evolution were just starting to be contemplated and not just discarded as irrational. Stevenson was very interested in Darwinian evolution so he used it as a theme for Jekyll and Hyde - Jekyll regresses into Hyde.

Are the concepts of imaginative scientist and irresponsible man mutually exclusive? Is it possible that Jekyll is both an imaginative scientist and an irresponsible man and that there is therefore no black and white answer to the question? He certainly shows the characteristics of both identities at different times when he is in different mindsets.

Jekyll is definitely a scientist, in that he wants to stretch the boundaries of knowledge. But early on we see the lawyer Utterson discussing Jekyll with Dr Lanyon, who implies that as a scientist he has started to go "wrong in the mind" and dismisses his work as "unscientific balderdash". Jekyll himself recognises that his "scientific studies led wholly to the mystic and the transcendental" - so not exactly the scientific mainstream

But does that stop him actually being an imaginative scientist?

Science at the time was relatively limited - it was almost an extension of, and had been dominated by, the beliefs of the church. In fact, the reason most people believed Darwin...