Theme Of Madness In Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde The theme of ‘madness’ is demonstrated in the both The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by R. L. Stevenson and The Tell-tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Both authors utilise the gothic genre to show the impact of madness to their central character. Stevenson explores the theme of madness through the conflicts between good and bad within humanity, in which Mr Hyde is used as a symbol of the consequences when humans let go of their morality to evil desires.
While in Tell-tale Heart, the notion of madness is evident in the persona’s narrative voice that conveys the mad mental state of the character that drives him to murder the old man and admit to the evil deed. Madness is conveyed differently in both texts but similarly with madness sparked from fascination and both ending on the note that one cannot live a life of madness, from this madness is a theme explored in both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Tell-tale heart. The theme of madness is conveyed in both texts as a chaotic activity, but in different contexts.
It is Mr Hyde’s appearance that creates madness in the society; Mr Utterson describes him, as “There was something wrong with his appearance, something displeasing, something down-right detestable. I never saw a man I so dislike and scarce know why”. Mr Utterson repetition of ‘something emphasise he cannot pin point the exact reason for his dislike toward Mr Hyde. Hyde’s madness is shown through his deformed physical appearance, which results the society to confusion. In the daylight without the aid of a potion Dr Jekyll turns into Mr Hyde, this shows the slow domination of the evil side.
Mr Hyde hides himself away in a hotel and call upon the help of Dr Lanyon, who observes the transformation of Mr Hyde to Jekyll. Dr Lanyon describes the transformation “A cry followed; he reeled, stagger, clutched at table and held on… I had sprung to my feet and leaper back against the wall” this vivid description of both the transformation and the sheer shock and fear felt by Dr Lanyon shows the existence of Mr Hyde has caused to the society to result in madness as it is against the norms of society. In comparison, madness in the Tell-tale Heart does not affect the society but is only visible in the persona’s mind.
Following the deed, the police arrived because of an alarm alerted by the neighbours from a suspicious shriek. Guilty of the deeds, the persona decides to act and convince the police he is innocent. Then the persona suddenly hears a repetitive low “beating” sound, which slowly increases. “I gasped for breathand yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly-more vehemently; but the noise steadily increate. I arose and argued”. Here, the tense imagery through the use of the frequent use of adjectives “gasped”, “talked”, “arose”, “argued” is used to mirror the turmoil within the persona’ head.
Adding to the persona’s madness, the officers “chattered pleasantly” and do not hear the heartbeat, evidently it is present only within the wild imagination of the persona. In Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde madness is physically manifests and is undesirable in society as seen by the reaction of Mr Utterson and Mr Lanyon. In contrast in Tell-tale Heart madness is only present in the mentality of the persona; nonetheless madness is seen as undesirable in both texts. Both text highlight madness aspires from a spark of fascination in the character.
In Tell-tale Heart, the persona personifies the eye, he calls it “his Evil Eye”, this emphasise the persona’s obsession with this inanimate object who has done nothing to him. This personification reinforces the reader’s speculation that the persona is mentally ill. The persona’s plans the murder of the old man in a meticulous manner, taking him a week to prepare before the murder. At the strike of midnight for seven days, he opens a crack of the door and watch the old man in his sleep, the persona claims, “You should have seen how wisely | proceeded – with what caution – with what foresight – with what dissimulation I went to work”.
This repetition of the word “with what” suggests he is proud of his stealth preparation, which he believes to make him different from a madman, in contrast his immense patience and overreaching fascination to rid the eye is a confirmation of his madness. The repetition also highlights the extraordinary lengths the persona has undergone to remove the eye from existence. In contrast, Mr Hyde fascination is with his theory, he states “that man is not truly one, but truly two” the repetition of the word “truly” shows his passion to prove to the society his concept.
This is the foundation to the release of his other evil side and his obsession continues. It is evide fascination simulate one to result in madness, in Tell-tale heart the persona fascination is one of an inanimate object, while Jekyll madness aspires form the desire to prove his theory. The authors of both texts explores that one cannot live in a constant state of madness without a clear conscience, therefore the characters tries to relive themselves from it. At the end of the short story of Tell-tale Heart the persona cries, “I felt that I must scream or die! And now-again! – hark! Louder! Louder!
Louder! Louder! “, the repetition of the word “louder” is a emphasis on the impending doom felt by the persona from the heartbeat. This is a symbol of the persona’s guilty conscience and the accelerating of his heartbeat. The intolerable heartbeat causes him spill the truth of his murder. It is clear, that the persona’s internal voice presents his mad mental state, in that he able to feel and see things which others cannot. Likewise, as a result of Dr Jekyll’s regret of artificially creating the existence of Mr Hyde, the accelerating dominance of Mr Hyde of his bodies and madness he suicides himself.
In Dr Jekyll’s letter he states, “for Hyde increasingly began to take possession of me. If I slept or dozed, I awoke as Hyde and I was doomed. I was no longer able to control Hyde. ” the assonance of the long ‘o’ in “dozed “awoke” “doomed” express the despair of Jekyll living in madness. Both texts highlight that at one living in madness and not bounced by morality will at one point will relieve themselves madness, in Tell-tale heart the persona tries to relives themselves from guilt, while Dr Jekyll attempts to free himself from fear and regret.
Madness is displayed in different ways in the two texts; madness in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is presented as a manifest, while in Tell-tale heart madness occurs in the persona’s mine. However despite the different ways of presenting madness, both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the Tell-tale heart suggest madness rises from an obsession, both agreeing one cannot live in a constant state of madness without being bounded by morality.