Good people do bad things. It is just a fact of life. This does not make them evil – or does it? In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, good versus evil is seen in today’s society. Dr. Jekyll, who represents good, is in a constant battle with evil. Although there are many charming qualities in his personality, Dr. Jekyll is still easily tempted by his bad side. The theme, good vs evil, is important to me because it is the most common issue in the novella. Deciding between making the right or wrong decision is a battle humans fight every day.
The first example in the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the attempt to isolate the good and evil halves of the body. In pursuing his scientific experiments and validating his work, Jekyll claims, ‘Man is not truly one, but truly two.” Everyone contains characteristics of both good and evil, however, only one can dominant. In Jekyll’s case, his good side is dominant, but he knows there is evil inside of him. A real life example of separating good and bad is our justice system. Police put convicts in prison to allow innocent citizens to go live freely.
Hyde is a character of Jekyll’s evil characteristics. Temptation is one of Jekyll’s evil characteristics. When people give in to things, they know are wrong, consequences are bound to happen. An example is Dr. Jekyll giving in to transforming himself into Mr. Hyde. If a person who normally does not steal starts getting involved with a bad group of friends, that person would be more tempted to do the wrong thing. In the real world, good people are led astray everyday by getting involved with the wrong crowd.
Throughout the novel, Dr. Jekyll is described as respectable and very giving. He is extremely wealthy in his community. Mr. Hyde is a vile savage, which does not compliment his physical features. Jekyll is seen as the “good” half because he is so more evolved and known throughout the community. This relates to the real world in many ways. For instance, people in upper class are less likely to steal, because they know people in their community will look at them differently. Whereas people in poorer communities are more likely to steal because no one knows them, and the only thing that would affect them is probably jail time.
The battle between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is used as a metaphor, in regard to the good and evil that exist in all men. Since Hyde takes over a lot during the novel, readers could argue that evil is stronger than good. Ultimately, Hyde ends up dead at the end of the story. This novel supports the claim that man is not a purely dual being but is tamed and civilized by the laws of society. Dr. Jekyll developed a drug to show the opposite of that claim to the world. Readers could say that Dr. Jekyll sacrificed himself to show the truth of his nature instead of experimenting on another person and receiving glory or fame. Due to this selfless act, good wins against evil, because a truth is revealed.
Towards the end of the novel, Stevenson states once again that the fight between good and evil is much more complex beyond the human eye. Everyone has these two traits within themselves. According to Stevenson, the fight is not only between good and evil, but nature. Basically, the real fight is learning to accept the worst in things and facing the truth that lies in every soul. In all honesty, everyone has criminal thoughts in their minds. There is no such thing as pure innocence.
Today’s society and the time period for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are completely different. Nevertheless, good and evil are two very common and relevant themes in both eras. Life is very sporadic, so good people are still tempted into doing bad things. Certain things will never change in life and deciding between right or wrong is one of those things. Temptation, greed, and evil will always be part of your life. One must simply learn how to do the right thing in certain situations by making the best decision possible.