The Human/Animal Binary in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (BSP Blog Post 8)

After reading a few interesting Gothic novels/novellas over these past weeks, I feel I have a better understanding of the elements of a Gothic story. It is now time to choose my research paper topic for one of these stories, and I have chosen The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Though I have chosen the story I would like to research, I am not decided on a specific thesis quite yet. One of the elements of Gothic literature that intrigues me most is the blurring of binaries, and I know that I want to do something involving the human/animal binary in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some questions I am interested in exploring are:

When Dr. Jekyll successfully splits himself, Mr. Hyde is all rage and desire – animal-like, with no morals. However, Dr. Jekyll still has desires and rage, though he is able to control them. In other words, though Mr. Hyde is all of Dr. Jekyll’s worst parts, Dr. Jekyll is still those parts too, only with a conscience. Stevenson blurs the lines of the animal/human binary by giving us a completely animal-like character that is the main character’s worst self. But the main character still has these animal-like tendencies, although he has societal obligations to hide them away.  Why is this? Why is it that even when he has split himself, Dr. Jekyll is still made up of his animal-like desires? Is Stevenson suggesting that even at our best we cannot ever truly escape our animal instincts?

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