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Psychological doubles

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Psychological doubles

The Gothic theory of the double is both reductive and powerful. It assumes that we are all playing a role in life; that a raving beast waits within for the chains to loosen or snap. Doubles stories seem to proliferate when people sense an unnegotiable divide between the true self and society, between nature and culture. (Edmunson 48)

Such duality of roles is expressed in terms of split personalities in both The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James (1843-1916) and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). In these fictional works, the characters are unable to cope with the split.

Stevenson seeks to reproduce the double by way of splitting a personality between accepted roles. In this case, the roles are split between appropriate and inappropriate masculine behavior and are issustrated through the characterizations of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. ?Jekyll is an apparently respectable man?, contends Calder (ii), ?who contains within him a potential for profound wickedness, released in the shape of Mr. Hyde?. According to Calder (ii) ?AJ Symonds, a friend of Robert Stevenson, and many others found this chilling to contemplate.?

The society of men is Stevenson's main focus and is evident in the number of ways in which he presents Hyde in terms of society. If Jekyll and Hyde is characterized in Gothic fiction's exaggerated tones of late-Victorian anxieties concerning deterioration of social status, and the idea of ?criminal man,?, it invariably situates those concerns in relation to the practices and discourses of lawyers like Gabriel Utterson, doctors like Henry Jekyll and Hastie Lanyon, or even ?well-known men about town? like Richard Enfield. The novel in fact asks us to do more than simply register the all-too-apparent marks of Edward Hyde's ?degeneracy.? It also compels us also to examine how those marks come to signify in the first place.

To make his point, Stevenson creates a monster that is both the model of decay, but is also the most sophisticated and the most accepted by his fellows. Arata points out that the split is represented in the description of Hyde's body, which is ?an imprint of deformity and decay? (DJMH 84). Utterson, who spends a great deal of time with Hyde originally claims to consider Stevenson's evolving Victorian male as something to be entirely outside society. ?God bless me,? exclaims Utterson, 'the man seems hardly human. Something troglodytic, shall we say? . . . or is it the mere radiance of a foul soul that thus transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent?? (DJMH 40). Utterson's remark nicely demonstrates how old and new ideas can overlap. He at once draws on familiar Christian imagery of ?Hyde's foul soul transfiguring its clay continent? comments Arata ? and a Lombrosan vocabulary of atavism, with Hyde-as-troglodyte reproducing in his person the infancy of the human species? (Arata 233-234).

Stevenson was interested in refuting the ?professionalism? that was inhibiting authorship at the time. This begged the characterization of a monster to refute it (Arata 240). Stevenson does this by foregrounding the interpretive acts by means of which his characters situate and define Hyde. Despite the confident assertions of the novel's professional men that Hyde is ?degenerate,? his 'stigmata? turn out to be troublingly difficult to specify. In fact, no one can accurately describe him. ?He must be deformed somewhere,? asserts Enfield. ?He gives a strong feeling of deformity, though I couldn't specify the point. He's an extraordinary-looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way. No, sir . . . I can't describe him? (DJMH 35-37). That last, nearly oxymoronic formulation of unexpressed deformity, nicely captures the troubled relation between the 'text? of Hyde's body and the interpretive practices used to decipher it. In this way Stevenson underscores how the act of interpretation is grounded less in empirical data like the shape of Hyde's face and the hue of his skin, than in the categories brought upon him.

Stevenson furthers this by making the ?image of the upright bourgeois male? (DJMH 49) also the image of violence. Hyde is depicted as an aristocrat, whereas Jekyll is described as a scientist. This split in their personalities points out the dual roles that Stevenson wanted to portray. The creation is inherently of the higher class, but the monstrous side of it. Hyde is more identifiable with this class than is Jekyll. ?Indeed, the noun used most often in the story to describe Hyde is not ?monster? or ?villain? but ' ?gentleman?? (Arata 235). This novel portrays a world which consists of almost exclusively middle-class professional men. Instead of attacking Hyde, these gentlemen more often close ranks around him.

Again, the monster gentleman is expressed in terms of violence. In the original draft, Hyde murders the well-respected Mr. Lemsome, who is the man that Utterson considers ?a bad fellow? and ?an incurable cad? (DJMH 34). Hyde ??is the scourge of (a bourgeois) God, punishing those who threaten patriarchal code and custom? (Arata 235). Arata observes, ?Enfield's ?Story of the Door,? though it begins with Hyde trampling a little girl until she is left 'screaming on the ground? (DJMH 31), it concludes with Enfield, the doctor, and the girl's father breakfasting with Hyde in his chambers (DJMH 32). Recognizing him as one of their own, the men literally encircle Hyde to protect him from harm. ?And all the time . . . we were keeping the women off him as best we could, for they were as wild as harpies. I never saw a circle of such hateful faces; and there was the man in the middle, . . . frightened too, I could see that?? (DJMH 32). Enfield also tells the story of the beating with animation, in support of patriarchal superiority. Stevenson uses this to underscore the decadence in this stance. His portrayal of the bourgeois male is meant to prove that what appears to be gentlemanly is in fact monstrous.

This is why the gentleman Hyde must be destroyed.

?The terrors suffered by Hyde during his final days arise in part from his surroundings: the very symbols of bourgeois respectability that he exists to repudiate do him in. On the other hand, he seems to feel bizarrely at home in these surroundings. If for instance we ask who set the table for tea on this final night, the answer has to be Hyde and not Jekyll, since Utterson and Poole, prior to breaking in the door, agree that they have heard only Hyde's voice and Hyde's ?patient? footsteps from within the room that evening? (DJMH 68-69).

In the end, it is Jekyll that is blasphemous (DJMH 71).

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Keywords: what is doubling in psychology, what is a double doubles, are double doubles bad for you

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