Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Deuling Monsters: Hyde vs. Dorian Gray


I've been letting my recent readings of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray percolate for a couple of days while I consider the question of who is the bigger bad guy. Much as I hate to do this to Heather (whose post I found first and who brought me into this duel) and her man Hyde, I've decided that it's Dorian. Dr. Jekyll is an experimenter gone bad... He's got the qualities of the addictive personality. It takes more and more of the drug to turn him back into Jekyll and at the end he sends his man on an endless hunt to find the "pure stuff." And, yes, while he admits that he enjoyed letting Hyde loose and relished doing all the evil things (without remorse) while Hyde...in the end, he is still desperately trying to get back to the good side. And rather than let his friend/lawyer and servant be afflicted with Hyde on a permanent basis, rather than live the rest of his life as the evil Hyde--he commits suicide and destroys the monster that he has become. There would seem to be some good still left in him.

Dorian Gray, on the other hand, is given several chances to repent of his evil nature. He considers it seriously when Sibyl Vane commits suicide but is soon persuaded by Lord Henry that he need not repent...that Sibyl's death was of all things
artistic. Once well set on the destructive path, Dorian does not look back. And when Basil Hallward tries to persuade him to call on God for forgiveness, he goes even further and murders his friend--because at all costs he must silence the voice of conscience. Dorian commits his murder and blackmail and all the other atrocities and ends the book without regretting them...when he destroys himself (through his attack on the painting), he is not trying to save himself or anyone else from his evil deeds. He believes destroying the painting will release him from the reminders of his sins. It seems to me that Dorian is far more committed to his path....

4 comments:

softdrink said...

I didn't want to read your post until I had read both books, but now that I have, here I am. :-D

I didn't consider their redeeming (if any) qualities, but you raise an excellent point. I preferred Dorian the monster just because I found him to be a more fleshed out character. Hyde just seemed a quickly dashed off story.

Thanks for joining our duel!

Heather J. said...

Ooh you make some GOOD points here! Not exactly enough to make me change my mind in choosing Hyde as the bigger baddie, but you certainly have me some things to think about.

I'll be linking to your post on 10/31/10 in my recap - thanks again for participating in Dueling Monsters: Round 2!

Bev Hankins said...

Thanks for having me, softdrink and Heather! It was fun re-reading these classics and considering them in light of the duel!

Dreamybee said...

You and Heather both mentioned the redemption (or lack thereof) of the main characters at the ends of the books. I overlooked that, but it is a good point. I thought of the similarities to drug addiction in Jekyll and Hyde's case too-I wonder if that was at all in Stevenson's mind when he wrote it.