Sunday, February 25, 2024

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Modern Age

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is considered a timeless classic. Robert Louis Stevenson explores the eccentricity of a genius mind that tries to evade consequences by creating a body for his other evil side. That other evil has a hideous countenance and performs grave acts of cruelty. This side is named Hyde and detested by many. While his natural self is pleasant and loved by his friends. His mannerisms are agreeable and no one would ever imagine such a man to go into such depths of psychopathic insanity. Not until the very end of the story when he ends up disposing off Hyde’s body is when his friends find out the truth about Dr. Jekyll’s wrongdoings.

Dr Jekyll and Hyde

This is an interesting exploration of how society’s perception is rather simple and one-dimensional. Just because Dr. Jekyll always appeared to be likeable and kind, no one ever questioned his association with the appearances of Mr. Hyde. Until the very end, people believe that Dr. Jekyll must owe something to Hyde and hence he keeps covering up Hyde’s tracks.

This puts forth an argument of moral duality. Men are not born naturally good. An evil side resides within each man that threatens to take over and it is not all that lies inside which defines a man but what choices he makes. No man has a perfectly virtuous world in his inner mind. We get attracted to the evils of the world but whether or not we give in to the temptations, is entirely up to us. Many men are lured again and again to the paths of greed and bloodlust so they become morally corrupt.

In Dr. Jekyll’s case, his life becomes a constant struggle between letting his dark side take over and while Mr. Hyde had no fear of consequences, every time Dr. Jekyll’s conscience took over he would feel the fears and regrets of performing cruel acts of animosity. But each time, he would let Mr. Hyde takeover his conscience and soon his grip on the moral understanding became looser and looser until Mr. Hyde starts committing acts of atrocity of such a nature that moves Dr. Jekyll’s very core.

Modern Times:
Man truly has been free. We are always enslaved by circumstances or norms of the periods and societies we are living in. Whether we can distinguish between right and wrongs by our mental capacities or does the world we live in determine it for us, is a question that has been asked ever since civilization began. There is no exact answer for it however, imagine a society where the image becomes stronger than the character, where as long as you appear agreeable, within the standards of that day, no one questions your morality. In fact, the more effort you put in that perceived image of yours, the more you are reveled. You are put on a pedestal by people who believe you can do no wrong but even the wrongs you commit can be on a whim, transformed in to rights by fixing your image.

The question arises, what would Dr. Jekyll do if he would have been living in today’s world?

Our obsession with images is quite apparent in social media apps. Take an example of Twitter. Everyone shares their opinions on it religiously and builds for themselves a sense of community. Whether whatever beliefs they share are their actual beliefs or not does not matter. People try to look for loopholes in their online presence and if they see even one contradiction, they call out that person. But the ironic thing is that people are not questioning the person himself but only the perceived image of that person.

In such a shallow, validation-hungry world Dr. Jekyll would have gotten away with all the crimes he committed in the face of Hyde. For Jekyll would only need to put a good front, the one everyone agreed with and no one would questions his intentions or morality. Jekyll would not need to change himself when people would only see his image and give him validation based on that.

In this age of social media, the desire to appear within the moral parameters provided by the mainstream media is getting stronger and stronger. People follow a herd mentality. They do as their peers suggest and only want to fit in with everyone else. They do not try to use their own critical thinking skills to wonder what is wrong and right. Instead they hop on, over useless and meaningless trends. Anyone can have fame these days and with that fame, the only responsibility they have is to build a perfect image and only put their efforts in that particular image. In the process of doing that, people lose their actual identities and the concept of who they are as a person. They become shallow shells of a human being with no soul, no passion and no ability to think or feel.

Making that Perfect Image:
What is the effect of the common man?

It is hard to see anyone who even believes himself to be a common man anymore, considering how individualism has fed us all with the belief that every aspect of life could be changed as a commodity. People are ready to sell anything for a quick buck and some cheap fame. Since the accessibility to likes and reactions is available to us all, we put our self-worth in that online validation. The online existence of the man is almost like a void of identity. We build illusions over illusions and our understanding of what a reality is within a physical realm is too warped to even make sense anymore.

This plays into the confusion of rights and wrongs. No one is supposed to be the judge of what is right and wrong yet everyone is the judge of what is right and wrong. Since you have put all your life online, anyone can be the judge of what you should and should not have done with your life. People succumb to the pressure and end up making life altering choices.

But another question arises, what would Mr. Hyde be like in this modern world?

For an evil soul, the modern world is a paradise. There is so much you could get away with without any repercussions. Moreover, what the internet provides to thousands of criminals and amoral people is an anonymity with which they can commit all sorts of atrocities. Who is to question a blank account that leaves hate comments or bullies you? Who is to question the ones that upload immoral content or exploits minors online? So much of what goes on internet world damages people yet those people that cause the harm are not put behind bars, while many Hydes lurk in plain sight cause atrocities with anonymity.

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Category: Socio Political

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