Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll Comparative Essay
“Ambition destroys its possessor,”which comes from hebrew proverb portrays how ambition can blind a person to their doom. In certain aspects, the compelling temptations of desire can cause oneself to commit heinous acts, and slowly lose sight of themselves. In Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, Victor Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll are madly driven by ambition to become greater than their current selves through scientific means. Although their scientific endeavours were made to better themselves, their creations ultimately manifested their inner feelings that were suppressed deep within them. Science was unable to fulfill their desires, in which society is the cause to their downfall.
Firstly, society lead the monster down a dark path, in which he was neglected because of his physical appearance. For something Victor worked so hard for, it eventually becomes the death of him. The monster proceeds to explore the world around him, only to be shunned and put into isolation as a result of the horror, fear, hatred, agony, loneliness and despair put upon him. Society is to blame for what has become of the creature, in which its influence on humans can affect individual human behavior, especially to those with a weak mind and judgement. For example, the De Lacey’s are horrified when witnessing the sight of the creature, and violently attack him against its hideous features. Victor was raised in such a manner that his perception is based off physical looks rather than ‘soul’. Relating this scenario to the netflix series Black Mirror in the episode ‘Men Against Fire’, it is a fact that “It’s a lot easier to pull the trigger when you’re aiming at the boogeyman,” implying that hatred is bolstered when in the sight of something hateful to the eyes. This quotation, in another perspective, can also apply to the Frankenstein’s family, in which they adopted Elizabeth solely because of her flawless looks, making her an ideal addition to their family. This is evident in:
“Among these there was one which attracted my mother far above all the rest. She appeared of a different stock. The four others were dark-eyed, hardy, little vagrants; this child was thin and very fair. Her hair was the brightest living gold, and despite the poverty of her clothing, seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head. Her brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her lips and the moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility and sweetness that non behold her without looking on her as of a distinct species, a being of heaven sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features” (Shelley 23-24).
The creature can easily relate to the remaining four ‘dark-eyed, hardy, little vagrants’, in which they were overlooked by Elizabeth’s looks as a choice for adoption. No matter how much compassion the monster gives to society, he can never seem to be accepted for who he is. The monster expresses his frustrations when he says:
“this was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense, I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone. The feelings of kindness and gentleness which I had entertained but a few moments before gave place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth. Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind” (Shelley 142-143).
As a result, he resolves to seek vengeance against his creator, murdering all those dearests to Victor. Victor hoped that by traveling, it would be able to suppress his inner emotions, having the mindset that his problems will vanish on its own. Victor’s downfall was the result of negligence towards his creature from himself and society.
In contrast to Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll is another victim of his own demise, who used himself as a social experiment. Being a scientist in psychology, he has a broad understanding of how the human mind functions. However, Dr. Jekyll lives a dull life where he has to live up to expectations as a no-life doctor with proper social etiquette and grace. Ironically, he himself is unable to fully control his own mind and develops a dual personality persona. Jekyll suppresses his vices and evil intentions in fear of social criticism from the Elizabethan Era’s society, evident in:
“Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection and began to look round me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of me. Many a man would have even blazoned such irregularities as I was guilty of; but from the high views that I had set before me, I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame” (Stevenson 60).
This quotation depicts how he must hide his guilty pleasures that society would deem as disgraceful. Regardless, society is at fault in which the Elizabethan era’s expectations followed strict morals. It is because of the drastic social restraint that Jekyll feels euphoric when being an evil in society, in which he repressed his inner emotions his whole life for the sake of a successful reputation. In a quotation said by Jahseh Onfroy, he states “if you feel as if your physical identity has to be the same as everyone else’s to be socially acceptable, you’re stupid,” and implies a similar perspective as Dr. Jekyll’s. By switching between alter egos, Jekyll can switch to become a degenerate Mr. Hyde and commit any heinous act he wants. Hyde would not have to face the consequences of his actions, by giving his other self a new identity, while being able to live his normal life as a Jekyll. Frankly, Edward Hyde’s surname is homonym to the word ‘hide’ which means to conceal from knowledge or exposure; keep secret, and alludes to his deep rebellious desires. Inevitably, his actions have repercussions in which it takes a turn for the worst. Hyde is caught harming a little girl, which is of most unacceptable acts and shows no remorse, as mentioned in: “for the man trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground” (Stevenson 3). The fact that Mr. Hyde took his actions to treacherous heights portrays how abusing a child satisfies his years of suppressive feelings, in which they may have taken a drastic toll in his life as Dr. Jekyll.
Furthermore, the plot between the two novels had the implication of gender roles suppression.Frankenstein proved to create life without the need of a woman, further signifying male superiority. The author, Mary Shelley, experienced female oppression within society, and thus characterizes characterizes women to be fragile and meant to support male dominance. The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, during the Victorian era, is metaphor for the restraint of sexuality. Homosexuality has the negative connotation of a sinful lifestyle, which alludes to the fact as to why Mr. Hyde stays at a place that appears to be a city of nightmare --the dismal quarter of Soho. Poole also makes a remark about Mr. Hyde when he states: "Then you must know as well as the rest of us that there was something queer about that gentleman - something that gave a man a turn," (Shelley 44) and criticises him on his social differences as a man.
Both Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll experience isolation as they face the consequences of their scientific endeavors. Dr. Jekyll’s feeling of isolation begins when seeking more enjoyment as Mr. Hyde. He becomes depressed and isolates himself after the heinous acts he committed, in which he may face the consequences of Mr. Hyde for the danger he bestowed upon the town. As for Victor’s isolation, it starts when he completely cuts society away from his life to pursue his experiments. His lifestyle changed for the worst, in which he spent countless hours on his creation-- only to abandon it and creating it into a monster. The murders of his loved ones put him in a deep state of guilt and loneliness. The depression is so overwhelming that he is unable to keep a stable thought process. The isolation is depicted as "Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of a leaf startled me, and I shunned my fellow creatures as if I had been guilty of a crime,”(Shelley 46-47) and also foreshadowing the events to come. The monster is also hidden away, in which he is unable to gain social acceptance and is also denied the opportunity to live a life with another companion.
Through their scientific endeavours, Frankenstein and his creature, and Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, were unable to fulfill their desires as a result of society’s influence. Frankenstein’s monster was unable to gain social acceptance, and resulted in Victor’s downfall. In comparison, Dr Jekyll’s inner emotions were expressed in the form of his alter ego as a result of the suppressed emotions for the sake of social acceptance. This lead to the inevitable isolation caused by the social massacre�