This inner struggle between society and self is what forced Jekyll to venture into his experiments. There is always a constant struggle between self (the Id) and society (the superego). In regards to self and society, there is no clear cut good vs. evil. Both parts contain good and bad. Society, in a twisted way, tries to protect the self, yet it conforms the self and suppresses the Id. From Hyde, the reader can see that the Id is just as bad as society. Hyde is the image of evil: selfish, cruel, unforgiving, indifferent, seeking only self preservation. Yet, the self must be good, or why else would it have been created in the first place? Jekyll was a good man in the eyes of society, but within himself, he always sensed something terrible "in the lower elements of [his] soul." So, society won, until Jekyll found himself. So, in self vs. society, it is really the lesser of two evils. Nothing in this world is purely good, so good can never win. This inner struggle is eventually what led to Jekyll's destruction. Had the conflict not been present, he would have never felt the need to venture out into himself. Ignorance is the only thing that could have prevented this annihilation. Jekyll was a scientist; their job is to pose questions and answer them. You wouldn't have seen Poole try to attempt this. Intelligence can lead the human race to it's downfall or to it's glory. There is a fine line between striving to be like God, and trying to become God.
Think about this: when babies are first born, what is the first thing that they do? They cry. Babies cry because they are in constant need for something to satisfy their wants. This is self gratification and selfishness or the ID. When all babies are born, we are already born sinful and selfish. All sin is a result from selfishness. There isn't a sin that people don't commit out of selfishness. For Jekyll, his sin was trying to become knowledgeable like God. (Now I know that in my future English classes, making biblical and religious references is probably not the best idea but we're all family here so I think it's okay!) But in the bible it says, "I am the one and only true God- worship no other idols." I feel that Jekyll worshiped knowledge as he wanted it all and wasn't satisfied with what he had. He wanted to become more like God and that is just inhumanly possible. I do believe that the ideology of society vs. need of self is a clear representation of the novel as Jekyll says "to cast in my lost with Jekyll, was to die to those appetites which I had long secretly indulged and had of late begun to pamper." (pg. 91) Now could have this situation been avoided? I don't think it could have because we are all selfish and our selfish desires causes us to do crazy things. Maybe this situation could have turned out differently but I think it would have been somewhere along the same line.
Within us all, there is a constant battle between society and ourselves. We have to decide whether to conform to its ways or unleash what we truly are. However, that is easier said than done. Society can be brutal and make a nonconformist feel immensely isolated. As a result, we develop a superego, based on our environment, that suppresses our emotions. Yes, a superego can be vital. We do not need to go out and steal a pair of Christian Louboutin heels, no matter how tempting that may be. That is frowned upon and is wrong (or is it?). But eventually it reaches an unhealthy state. "From the high views that I had set before me, I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame." (pg. 78) Dr. Jekyll had constrained his id for far too long and that, ultimately led to his tragic downfall. There was no balance between his desires and society's expectations. When he transformed into Hyde for the first time, he was "conscious of no repugnance, rather of a leap of welcome." (pg. 83) Why? It was his first chance at liberation, and he embraced it to the utmost degree. But with such freedom comes consequences. Eventually, Jekyll could no longer control his transformations. If he had allowed proper ventilation of his inner self, there would have been no need to dive into the forbidden knowledge.
In Jekyll's mind, he has the tendency to blame society for what they believed was right and wrong... but is it really their fault? Take us for example. We usually are pressured into following the latest trends and what others do. However Jekyll didn't do this at all. Back then, people weren't focused on science and creating and trying new things. It was basically they were in one bubble, while Jekyll was in his own little bubble, entirely. He didn't want to be like others, which is why he created something nobody else would even dream of creating; another "being" of yourself. With Hyde, Jekyll could be whatever he wanted to be, without being judged by others, which was being evil. However, Hyde and his evilness, eventually took over Jekyll and is what destroyed him.Society may have helped in starting the destruction, but in the end, it was his "self", the evil part of him, Hyde, that destroyed Jekyll.
Who doesn’t want to be the best of the best? Someone may say they don’t care whether they are first or last, but truly in the back of their mind, they are striving to outsmart or be somebody special. They want to have a certain impact on the human mind, and they want to go beyond the boundaries society has set for us. And that’s all Jekyll was doing. Jekyll felt that there is something he should know, that society doesn’t want him to know, which begins the battle to beat out societies wishes. Jekyll had such a want for more knowledge that he made every effort to go beyond what was acceptable for him to know. His selfish need to be the smartest man is what destroyed him. Boundaries are set for our benefits, and Jekyll felt the need to exceed beyond those which clearly could have been avoided had he stayed within the boundaries. By creating two men out of one body he was mentally and physically taken over, and yes it could have been avoided by accepting the fact that knowledge can expand in many ways, but by crossing lines to get that knowledge is like cheating, and karma gets cheaters, and karma got Jekyll. But I do believe that if society didn’t strive so hard to keep everybody in the same mindset of what is right and wrong, no one would ever feel the need to try and rebel against it. Which is all that Jekyll did.
HulseyTCHS 12th AP Lit