We are Multitudes
POST & RESPONSE
Stevenson`s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde” makesuse of terror to wage violence on the innocent. The approach helps toset a solid background to the duality of human nature with Dr. Jekylland Mr. Hyde being opposites. In itself, duality creates doubts aboutthe self, which in the Wordsworthian view, is not real. ToWordsworth, the self as presented through the two characters of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde cannot be tied to the actions of the person.Human actions fall under the laws of nature and cannot be attributedto an individual who performs them. Thus, individuals can exist asmultifarious, incongruous and independent denizens identifiablethrough their actions yet free of them. As such, self-knowledge couldlead to such a multiplicity of personalities where actions do notdefine a person. Thus, Stevenson`s book challenges moral doctrinesthat tie a person to their actions and insists that any givenindividual exists as a multitude.
Response:Creating the Self
I like the way you address the role of Dorian’s picture in Wilde’sstory. I believe that this painting portrays one person undergoing atransformation in character captured as a shifting physicalappearance. Dorian`s actions are recorded in the painting in a waythat shows that actions define character. In contrast, I see that Dr.Jekyll is one person but his actions and behaviors create two uniqueidentities. I agree with you that Dr. Jekyll uses the character ofMr. Hyde as a mask to commit terror and other atrocities. I think thedevelopment points to differences in how the two stories perceive thecreation of the self. For Wilde, the self is an accumulation of one’sactions while for Stevenson, different actions create multipleidentities. In Dorian’s picture, his sins are added to his imagewithout creating a new self while Dr. Jekyll’s actions generate anew character in Mr. Hyde. Could it be possible that the two authorsdisagree on what comes first, actions or self?
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