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Repression Regarding “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”

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Date added: 19-02-06


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Sigmund Freud was said to believe that people repress their shameful or immoral thoughts and that they become unconscious. He stated that under the influence of some outside event, it could one day cause a psychical consequence that could be seen as the product of lost memory and as the result of it will remain incomprehensible. (Delusion and Dream, An Interpretation in the Light of Psychoanalysis of Gradiva, Author: Wilhelm Jensen & Sigmund Freud, February 15, 2014). This relates to the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in that Dr. Jekyll is forced by the righteous morality of society to constantly cover up his wild and dark desires. However, his repression does not become unconscious. The outside pressures of society to remain good could be the cause for him to create his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde would then be the psychical consequence.

Repression is a recurring theme in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He follows the rigid rules of society and is essentially good all the time. He gives to charity and he is considered to be a respected neighbor and Doctor by his friends and peers. However, he is also a man who believes that people have two sides. A good and evil one. This causes a deeper need to separate the two sides. His experiments with different potions at last lead to a potion that turns him into Mr. Hyde.

Dr. Jekyll is forced by the rules of a civilized society to hide a part of himself, yet the more he hides this dark side, the more he desires to become Mr. Hyde. In the Victorian age of England people were expected to be modest or stoic in their behaviors. You were to keep your emotions and sexual desires to yourself, one was not to ever be violent or drunk in public. These things were all taboo, during these times. This further complicates the issues with Dr. Jekyll as he craves many things that are not socially acceptable.

Dr. Jekyll struggles to walk between his life as an upstanding doctor and his life as the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He is not alone in this struggle between what is moral and immoral. Living a life of repression is not easy for anyone. Mr. Utterson lives a normal mundane life but is jealous of those who live on the edge. “He was austere with himself; drank gin when he was alone, to mortify a taste for vintages; and though he enjoyed the theater, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years. But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove.” (1.1)

There are others within the story that also repress their desires, such as Mr. Enfield. He is curious and nosy at times but repress this because he thinks that showing that side of himself is unsafe. ""Here is another lesson to say nothing,"" said he. ""I am ashamed of my long tongue. Let us make a bargain never to refer to this again. ""With all my heart,"" said the lawyer. I shake hands on that, Richard."" (1.27) Yet because of the time period everyone must repress their desires, especially in public.

Dr. Jekyll is forced by the rules of society to hide the dark part of himself, to hide his desires and because of this forced repression by society he takes matters into his own hands to find a way to unleash those repressed desires by becoming Mr. Hyde. This would conclude that Freud was in part correct about how repressing one’s desires can cause physical consequences.

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