Comparative Analysis of Macbeth and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Date:  2021-03-31 20:22:01
5 pages  (1167 words)
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Vanderbilt University
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The nature of human beings is bound to change. This inconsistency explains why one person can possess more than one character. The change in behavior can come by default or by design. Change by default can happen when an individual is forced to adapt to certain circumstances by factors beyond their control. On the other hand, change by design is prompted by an individual to enable them cope with prevailing conditions. The same person has the potential of committing evil on one instance and showing benevolence on another. Both good and evil have philosophical connotations that can be explained by famous philosophers like Immanuel Kant. Kant developed the deontological theory that states that all actions are judged as right or wrong depending on their conformation to a universal source of moral law (Hay 13). Therefore, judging one based on their behaviors must be cast against a moral standard. Macbeth and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have several themes that connect the two texts which are centered around vice and virtue. Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare that narrates the story of a successful warrior that turns power-hungry and murderous through the influence of his wife. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, on the other side is a rather supernatural story of human transfiguration that is facilitated by ingestion of a portion that Dr. Jekyll develops in his laboratory. As discussed in this paper, murder, supernatural phenomena, and double character form a common thread that relates the two books.

Cases of murder are rampant in the two books. In Macbeth, both Banquo and Macbeth emerge as national heroes after they separately resist aggression levered against the Kingdom of Scotland by Norway and Ireland. In conjunction with his wife, Macbeth kills King Duncan and his delegation in Iverness. To secure his position in power, Macbeth annihilates all his potential competitors for the throne. For instance, he murders King Duncan and masterminds the murder of Banquo and Macduffs family. After killing King Duncan, Macbeth tells his wife, I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise? (I, iv, 145) This quote illustrates the details of the plan to kill the king that was executed by a power hungry couple. Macbeth does not explicitly pronounce the killing of his master to his wife. Instead, he uses a concealed jargon to code the language that can only be understood by the two of them. Murder in Macbeth is committed by more than person. In Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll kills a young girl and one old man after transfiguring into a morally free and conscienceless Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll kills Mr. Hyde in an attempt to end the life-long struggle between good and evil. The witness in the murder case of Sir Danvers Carew narrated the events in which Mr. Hyde killed his victim: The old gentleman took a step back, with the air of one very much surprised and a trifle hurt; and at that Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth (Stevenson 47). This narration shows the extent to which lack of conscience contributes to ruthlessness and senseless acts of violence.

The protagonists in both books exhibit a duality of character. Macbeth in Macbeth is initially a brave warrior who is both patriotic to his country and submissive to his king. He successfully accomplishes his duty of defending the kingdom of Scotland as the chief of staff. Lady Macbeth describes his husbands hands and tongue as innocent flowers. She, however, predicts that there is a serpent under it, he that is coming. The first quotation describes the character of Macbeth before he is incited by Lady Macbeth against the kingdom. The mention of hands and tongue alludes to Macbeths speech and actions that were initially void of evil (Adelman 34). After concurring with his wifes plan to annihilate competitors in the kingdom, Macbeth becomes murderous and evil, the traits of a serpent that his wife predicts of him. Dr. Jekyll in Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde possess both good and malevolent attributes. He is only benevolent in Dr. Jekyll state, but turns harmful when disguised as Mr. Hyde. In fact, he admits the duality of human character in his letter by saying that all human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil (Stevenson 118). Further, he remarks that that man is not truly one, but truly two (Stevenson 116). Dr. Jekylls statements demonstrate that man harbors good and bad morals, and he is subject to change depending on the situation at hand.

Both Macbeth and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde illustrate supernatural forces at play. There are three witches that predict what is to happen for Macbeth in the play. The witches use their supernatural powers to foresee what Macbeth and other ordinary human beings cannot perceive. The witches conduct their rituals under conditions like thunder and lightning or a violent storm. They meet in a shrine where a huge fire has been lit and hover over the foul air (I, I, 13). The First Witch addresses Macbeth as the thane of Cawdor! while another call refers to him as Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!(I, III, 21). All the predictions come to pass later in the play. The mention of witches alludes to the popularity of witchcraft in the Victorian Britain (Jennifer 1). In Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the chemical-induced transfiguration of Dr. Jekyll is extraordinary. The morally free form of Jekyll was a grotesque figure as described by Mr. Utterson as pale and dwarfish...who gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation (Stevenson, 34). This figure is juxtaposed with the eloquent and outstanding Dr. Jekyll, underscoring the supernatural transformation that interconverted the two forms. The above description of Mr. Hyde serves to illustrate the great powers of the concoction prepared by Dr. Jekyll. The portion is unlike other chemicals that might be consumed for treatment of an ailment or to induce a physiological state of the body.

In conclusion, Macbeth and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are connected by the duality of attribute among main characters, supernatural motifs, and murderous characters. Murder in Macbeth is orchestrated by more than one individual. Witches and human transfiguration demonstrate supernatural forces and protagonist characters possess both virtuous and vicious attributes in the books. Thinking about the witches prediction in Macbeth leaves the reader wondering the logic behind the outcome of the events: why didn't the witches warn King Duncan about his imminent death, but chose to promise good fortunes for Macbeth?

 

Works Cited

Adelman, Janet. "Born of woman: Fantasies of maternal power in Macbeth." William Shakespeare's Macbeth (2010): 33-60.

Hay, Carol. Kantianism, Liberalism, and Feminism: Resisting Oppression. Springer, 2013.Riedel, Jennifer. "The witches' influence on Macbeth." Retrieved February 10 (1995): 2006.

Shakespeare, William. The tragedy of Macbeth. Vol. 2. Classic Books Company, 2001.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Broadview Press, 2005.

 

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