After a month of philosophical texts, I was incredibly pleased to read a nice streamlined work of fiction, and not be forced to decipher cryptic meanings and struggle with my own moral opinions. I’ve read Stevenson before, and was pleased that I enjoyed the story a second time, but an unfortunate after-effect is how much I’ve grown to resent this topic we’ve been focusing on for the last 5 readings. I used to love to ponder the question of how much our natural drive effects us in our decision and actions in everyday life, or whether or not I’d be the same person or soul if I was raised by different parents in different places. But Nietzsche, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Shelley have completely exhausted my excitement and will to even talk about it anymore. No more Good vs. Evil, Man vs. Primal Man! Bad Air, Bad Air! So instead I will talk about everything in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that doesn’t have to do our primal instincts. Too bad it’s the centre theme of the novel…
What I’ve always liked about novels like this is the choice of narration. The narrator is Utterson; a definition of blandness. He has no wife, no kids, no opinions, simple guiding emotions and little to no back story. He is you or I, anyone’s free to enter his flesh. He follows the similar traits of Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby, or Ishmael from Moby Dick. Their only purpose is to give a restricted perspective of a much greater character central to the plot. Whether it be Jay Gatsby, Captain Ahab or Henry Jekyll, these characters are who all importance is given to, and the narrators are tossed aside as soon as their work or intended purpose is finished. Avoid this part if you want me to spoil an excellent novel, but Utterson’s own story and conflict as a lawyer is completely ignored at the death of Jekyll. The book literally ends the moment Jekyll’s memoir is read. Forget about Poole or Utterson’s legal duties, Stevenson’s job is done! This is much like Ishmael simply being cast away as the sole survivor of the Pequod in Moby Dick with no answer of his fate. Ahab was the real star of the show, who cares if Ishmael dies too?
Another idea to note is that this is our second Mystery genre we’ve read throughout Arts 1. Just like Oedipus, the detective is bound to discover something he didn’t want to find even though his nosy nature bounded him to it. Jekyll himself pushes his boundaries by attempting to exile his passions, but just like Frankenstein his pushes moral boundaries and defies scientific law. Similarly to the Frankenstein monster, the creature of Mr. Hyde has been misconstrued and remodeled by popular society. Popular depictions of him symbolize him as monstrous, greenish, gargantuan and incapable of speech, only outbursts of evil chuckles. If anyone like me watched Looney Tunes as a kid, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, your childhood must of really sucked, and I feel sorry for you. Hyde is actually short in stature, he’s hideous, but very much human. Much like the fog that always seems to follow him when he commits his heinous acts, his hideous feature is hazed. There’s no single characteristic that can be distinguished from the rest of him and called revolting. It’s just like that feeling you get when you encounter someone who just strikes you in the the wrong way but can’t determine why. This is much like how we can’t separate our primal drives from our human passions.
But looks like I have to stop here, since I promised I wouldn’t talk about any of this kind of thing. I pray we’ll move past this topic by the next reading. And my rant is done.