Multiple Personalities of Characters in The Importance of Being Earnest and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Last Updated: 21 Dec 2022
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In the readings “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “The Importance of Being Earnest" characters show multiple identities and split personalities In Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Dr, Henry Jekyll shows off a darker side through the appearance of a Mr. Edward Hyde. Jekyll is an illusion to the surrounding population, blinding people from understanding that he is more than just a physician. Hyde allows Jekyll to secretly participate in behavior that is shunned by the community. In Oscar Wilde’s writing, two character’s also live double lives. John Worthing is known by two different names In Hertfordshire he is known as Jack and in London, he goes by the name Earnest. Jack’s best friend Algernon Moncrieff similarly lives two sides but in a much different way.

Algernon invented an imaginary friend known as Bunbury. “Bunbury” or “Bunburying” is used to explain the metaphor through the play of a double life “Bunburying” is defined by Algernon as the practice of creating an elaborate deception that allows someone to misbehave while seeming to uphold the very highest standard of responsibility. In both texts, readers learn that no matter how well you know someone you do not truly know who they are. People living double lives trick people into believing their good side so they are in denial resulting in the protection of expressing their evil sidei First off, in “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" the idea of split personalities was not recognizable until the very last chapter of the noveli Because the reader is unaware that Jekyll and Hyde are the same people there is constant confusion of Jekyll and Hyde‘s relationship.

Originally the idea that they are two different people seems almost obvious. Jekyll is a respected doctor and is looked at as a positive person in the community, Jekyll is known for also having respected people surrounding him. Jekyll’s friend’s including his lawyer Mr. Utterson and another well-liked doctor Dr, Lanyoni These friends add to the fact that the community is oblivious to Jekyll’s dark side as they are too, Hyde has a completely different mindset than Jekyll and is concentrated on doing everything he would not do when in his normal state. Ironically, even though they have different mindsets they share some features that make the reader second guess the idea that they could possibly be the same people, but there is not nearly enough evidence to to believe that to be the truth Hyde is described as something out of a horror movie, “particularly small and particularly wicked-looking".

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Hyde’s dark side becomes know early on in the novel after finding out that he has killed two different people in a short p. The first murder consisted of Hyde brutally trampling over a person and Mr. Enfield describing the event as the two running “into one another naturally enough at the corner; and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child’s body and left her screaming on the ground“ The second murder involved a cane where he viciously beat a person, “the murder was gone long ago; but there lay his victim in the middle of the lane, incredibly mangled” It becomes insanely obvious that this monster is extremely violent and force to not be reckon with, At this point in time it is hard to believe that they are the same people, but once Jekyll starts hiding information from his own lawyer about providing his belongings to Mr Hyde in his will there is speculation that they are somehow both involved in the murders.

All trust is lost and it makes it hard to believe everything Jekyll has to say. Eventually, it also seems ironic that both Jekyll and Hyde are never around at the same time, Hyde is often spotted going into the laboratory connected to Jekyll‘s house, but Jekyll is never home when he is spottedi In the chapter “The Last Night” Poole and Utterson meet up and Utterson suggests that Jekyll has been involved in some “foul play” " When the pair get to the house they find the servant huddled in fear Poole tells the what is thought to be Jekyll that Utterson is at the house for a visits A strange voice from behind the door tells him that he can not see any visitors at this point in time. Everyone is confused because it is not Jekyll’s voice. Poole asks, “was that my master’s voice“ and the lawyer respond‘s, “It seems much changed”.

Eventually they break into the laboratory and find Mr. Hyde on the ground with a crushed vial and Jekyll’s clothing. The reader becomes fully aware that Jekyll was the one who actually commit the grotesque crimes. Jekyll was taken over by his darker side, “My devil had been long caged, and he came out roaring. Throughout the novel, we think we know the real Jekyll but in reality we knew nothing about him at allt Similarly, in the play, “The Importance of Being Earnest” Jack and Algernon use a curtain to hide their deeper personality from others who would judge Jack creates an imaginary brother narned Ernest to escape obligations but still allows him to come off as responsible Earnest constantly finds himself in trouble, allowing Jack do things that he would not dare to do as himself.

Earnest lives at a hotel in Albany and gives Jack the excuse to leave for town whenever he wants. Just like Jack, Algernon also has an imaginary partner named Bunbury. His created friend also allows him to get away and take a trip to the country whenever he wants. Having much in common, Algernon wants to explain the idea of “Bunburying” to Jack but he declines, “Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury. and if you ever get married, which seems to be extremely problematic, you will be very glad to know Bunbury” (7). This quote suggests that Algernon is implying that having an alter ego is great for lying It is at this time that Jack decides that he is going to cut off Earnest and kill his imaginary brother if Gwendolen accepts Jacks marriage proposal, Gwendolen ironically only knows Jack as Earnest and has no clue of his other side, Gwendolen accepts the proposal, but Lady Bracknell decides that he is not fit for her daughter and demands they are not together because he is an orphan.

With Lady Bracknell denying Jack’s request the idea of her seeing right through Earnest becomes a possibility. As far as Gwendolen is concerned she believes that Earnest and her are going to get married and claims to have the strong feelings for Earnest. It it is at this time the reader finds out Algernon’s dark side as he decides to take down Jack‘s address when Jack is telling Gwendolen it. It is obvious that Algernon is up to no good as he decides that he is going to go “Bunburying.” The next act opens at Jack’s country estate where Miss Prism is trying to get Cecily to do her school work, Miss Prism then hints at the fact that she does not want Cecily to end up like Jack’s up to no good brother Earnest. It is apparent that most know Earnest as a negative person and do not want him coming around.

Once again, this is a time where the reader realizes that even people close to Jack are unaware of his other side. Cecily is intrigued by Earnest and wants him to Visit, but Miss Prism tells her that would be a terrible idea. Eventually Earnest does stop by the estate and visit Cecily, but Earnest is actually played by Algernon. Obviously this was Algernon’s plan and he effectively used his “Bunburying” techniques. When Jack returns he tells everyone that Earnest has passed away. Cecily then claimed Earnest to be in the house. Jack denies the fact that what Cecily is claiming is impossible, “what nonsense! i haven’t got a brother," but there is no way around it (29). Jack becomes upset with Algernon and insists that he leaves, but as Earnest, Algernon purposes to Cecily and she accepts Algernon than becomes somewhat unhappy because Cecily is only attracted to him because of the name Earnest. Both Jack and Algernon next find themselves in trouble as Gwendolen and Cecily meet for the first time and both of them are known by the name Earnest by the two women.

The two women than find out their lover‘s true names and become upset. It is at this point that the reader finds out that Earnest is just another part of Earnest and Algernon, The women are soon won over by excuses and agree to forgive them even though they are actually both engaged to a man named Earnest. Truly, Gwendolen can not love Jack if his name is not Earnest so the fate of their marriage was thrown in the shadows. Eventually, Jack finds out that he is linked to Miss Prism’s family and finds out who his true mother is. His mother ends up being Miss Prism‘s sister and his real name is eventually revealed to him “Ernest Johns” Jack than asks for Gwendolen’s complete forgiveness and she agrees to do so. Throughout the duration of the play the reader learns that although Jack deceived his family there was actually some truth behind him As for Algernon there was not a happy ending and he used his other side to take advantage of Cecily.

Both readings are great examples that going by two personalities can result in many consequences, For Jekyll going by Hyde destroyed his life as his addiction to do negative things increased As for Jack and Algernon they used their separate identity to trick people into trusting their fake self rather than their real self and deceived many people in the process, Although the consequences were not as difficult for Jack he put himself in many situations where things could have gone extremely wrong. As for the people surrounding Jekyll, Jack, and Algernon it become obvious that no matter how well you know someone you do not truly know who they are People living double lives trick people into believing their good side so they are in denial, resulting in the protection of expressing their more deceiving side.

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Multiple Personalities of Characters in The Importance of Being Earnest and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (2022, Dec 21). Retrieved from

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