Both Oscar Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel use gothic techniques in order to present how people can change and transform into other beings not only physically but mentally and spiritually.
Within Dorian Gray the protagonist gets influenced by a very persuasive character and Dorian essentially splits his physical body from his soul; which stays strapped in a portrait of himself. Similarly in Stevenson’s novel where Dr. Jekyll is able to turn into Mr.
Hyde and is given freedom to explore sinister acts while his reputation is kept in tact. The two novels display the contrast and conflict between good and evil displayed within one character. Within ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ Society has suppressed Dorian to the point he can’t explore his inner self openly and has to construct two different versions of himself in order to try and save face.
Buzzwell states “the terrible pleasure of a double life” is a key part of the novel as Dorian’s personality is split in two, this could be referred to as dualism. Buzzwell juxtaposes the adjectives “terrible” and “pleasure” to signify how, although Dorian is enjoying life the effects of it on his soul are terrible. Wilde portrays this using the symbol of the East side of london compared to the West side; the west being the clean, pure, side of Dorian while the East is the vulgar other half of him.
When Dorian informs Lord Henry about his feelings for Sybil, Dorian is stuck deciding who he should follow as he states, “I hear them Sybil and Lord Henry, and each of them says something different. I don’t know which to follow” (chp 4) here the reader can see the split between good and evil through the Wilde’s characterisation of Lord Henry and Sybil; the latter of which being the good, who eventually dies at the end showing how Dorian’s good side has lost to his sinister one. Furthermore when Dorian finally realises that the picture is altering based on his actions he questions whether he not he should pray for it to change eventually he came to the conclusion that, “If the picture was to alter, it was to alter. That was all. Why inquire too closely into it?” (chp 8) Here the reader sees that Dorian has came to a point of acceptance that there no need for reconciliation and he’s happy that the portrait would burden the consequences of his sins. At this point Dorian has finally, fully embraced his evil side and came to terms with it, and evil has won over good. Therefore Wilde using the character development of Dorian that temptations and evil would eventually triumph over good and purity. This is done by how Dorian develops from Basil’s “innocent” view of him into a man that holds no -if any- regards for society’s social boundaries, and indulges in any pleasure -no matter how sinful- he wishes.
Similarly, Stevenson presented Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as complete polar opposites as while one was an, “honest man” the other was a, “really damnable man” (chp 1). The adjective ” damnable” shows the reader how Stevenson’s characterisation of Mr. Hyde has allowed him to be worthy of condemnation. Mr. Hyde is presented as a “murderer; a monster who tramples upon a small girl simply because she happens to be in his way” according to Buzzwell.
This is a big contrast from Dr. Jekyll’s innocent and humble nature yet his name provides a possible other side to him as, “Je” in French means “I,” while “kyll” could be pronounced as kil. Chapter 4 is when a truly great crime is committed by Mr. Hyde as he brutally kills an old man with such an innocent nature that the maid who witnesses it collapses. Mr. Hyde is described to have carried out the brutal beatdown with “ape-like fury”. The word “ape” is used to describe Mr. Hyde’s uncivilized, animalistic and barbaric nature.
There is a distinct difference between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a way from Stevenson to display the duality between Good and Evil and how they affect society around them. As while Dr. Jekyll earns a good reputation from his peers and is highly thought of from his friends Mr.
Hyde is the opposite and disgusts many of those around him and provides them with reasons as to why they should remove themselves from his presence. Both authors use duality in one way or another to present the opposing sides of good and evil. Stevenson shows the reader a physical transformation when Jekyll turns into Hyde and vice versa. What these two essentially different people do in their time shows the reader the stark difference in good and evil and how they conflict. Meanwhile, Wilde only shows a physical change in the portrait of Dorian as it presents the state of his soul and how it slowly but surely increases in age and ugliness as Dorian carries out more and more evil act. Upon the portraits initial creation Basil perceives the portrait as the real dorian as it is innocent and as the novel progresses the portrait changes to display what Dorian truly is.Moreover, appearances play a significant part of both novels. Stevensons allows Dr.
Jekyll’s appearance to transform into Mr. Hydes; while Wilde explores how a subject’s exterior could be starkly different from it’s interior. One of the key moral lessons to take away from Wilde’s novel is that we should not “judge a book by it’s cover”. Throughout the novel Dorian is allowed to get away with numerous acts based on his respectable exterior yet if people were to see his interior -the portrait- their view of him would change significantly.
Dorian Gray is unbelievably beautiful on the surface, but his soul is the complete opposite. Throughout the novel, he gets away with the most dastardly things, simply because he looks too innocent to do anything wrong. When Basil approached Dorian over the case of her death and Dorian completely brushes the subject Basil feels shocked at Dorians dismissal of the subject and declares that Dorian “look(s) exactly the same wonderful boy who, day after day, used to come down to (his) studio to sit for his picture. But (he was) simple, natural, and affectionate then.
(he was) the most unspoiled creature in the whole world. Now, (Basil doesn’t) know what has come over (him). (Dorian talks) as if (he) had no heart, no pity in (him)” (chp 9) Here Basil starts to realise that although Dorian still looks and appears to be the same “unspoiled creature” he has changed but managed to keep the appearance. This cold exchange between Basil and Dorian expresses the danger in mistaking outer beauty for inner beauty.
Basil is just realising that the Dorian before him, really is different from the Dorian he captured in paint. Wilde uses the metaphor “unspoiled creature” to depict what the old Dorian was like in Basil’s eyes. Yet now the adjective “unspoiled” should be used to describe his appearance on the surface rather than his soul and character which has been tarnished. Although minute differences are present, similarly in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde appearances in the novel both figuratively and literally are displayed.
Dr. Jekyll definitely wants to keep up a facade of respectability, even though he has a lot of unsavory tendencies. In a literal sense, the appearances of buildings in the novel reflect the characters of the inhabitants. Dr. Jekyll has a comfortable and well-appointed house, but Mr.
Hyde spends most of his time in the “dingy windowless structure” of the doctor’s laboratory. In the letter that Dr. Jekyll writes to Mr.