Supression and release

At first, there seems to be a contrast between how Jonathan reacted to the three vampire woman compared to how Jekyll indulges in the ‘undignified pleasures’ in the form of Edward Hyde. Whereas Jonathan considered hiding everything in fear of hurting Mina, Jekyll doesn’t have to worry about that since all public scrutiny will be gone once he leaves the form of Edward Hyde behind. Nonetheless, there is overlap between the incoherency Jekyll feels as his public status grew when approaching old age and Jonathan’s shame from his wife; both cases seem concerned with reputation and expectations. A man of Jekyll’s status is expected to be upright and to never consider these ‘undignified pleasures’ in the first place, while Jonathan is expected to have this very sterile attitude regarding sexuality, even in his own marriage with Mina. Jonathan describes his feelings as “a wicked, burning desire that they should kiss me with those red lips”; and the following is then said about those lips: “There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive”. It is up for debate though, whether this repulsion is actually because of the vampires, or because Jonathan feels disgusted at himself for wanting them. Comparing this to Jekyll’s indulgences (and many other instances that could be found in Victorian literature), evidence would suggest that the disgust is caused by the dissonance within the self:
“Jekyll (who was composite) now with the most sensitive apprehensions, bow with a greedy gusto, projected and shared in the pleasures and adventures of Hyde; but Hyde was indifferent to Jekyll, or but remembered him as the mountain bandit remembers the cavern in which he conceals himself from pursuit.”
“Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, when it was possible to undo the evil done by Hyde.”
If we try to imagine Jonathan with his own version of Edward Hyde within, then his reaction makes perfect sense. The burning desire is akin to the urge for freedom, or as Jekyll puts it, ‘springing headlong into the sea of liberty. The double living in these men yearns for the fulfillment, and how this double is perceived by the conscious mind is key to understanding Jekyll and Jonathan’s reaction. Despite basically having total immunity from whatever he chooses to do as Hyde, Jekyll still attempts to undo these ‘evil deeds’. It seems then, to be a perpetual cycle of suppressing and attempting to release. Jekyll himself saw that the situation was outside the realm of ordinary law and is even aware of his own conscience relaxing due to this fact, but the need to be ‘upright’ seems to be the real compulsion here, not the other way around. The same could be said about Jonathan, there are even more ways that his situation is outside of ordinary law since there is no other witness but himself and the vampires. Under normal circumstances, indeed it would be hard to detect these compulsions for ‘good’ since it is considered ‘normal’, so these stories go out of their way (whether consciously or not) to create unusual circumstances in order to reveal the questionable nature of why we choose to do anything at all.

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