Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Liberation of Language in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde College

All language exists with two definitions. The primary, literal meaning is defined as what the object physically is, and the secondary, symbolic meaning is what the object represents. An object’s literal meaning remains a stationary constant, as it exists in a physical reality, and can only change if the object also physically changes. The symbolic meaning, however, is subjective to an individual’s perspective. Therefore, if a form becomes ‘rigid’, the symbolic meaning is also stationary and all language is restricted to producing a single interpretation. Language becomes ‘ready-made’ in both literal and symbolic meaning. To ‘revolt’ from this, R. L. Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray both offer alternative symbolic meanings for the same, set language. Through this, language is only ‘ready-made’ syntactically, and is liberated from the ‘bondage of traditional form’ though development of the symbolic meaning.

A ‘ready-made’ language was originally created to describe a normative, human reality. As each novel encounters the ‘other’, a ‘double’ that does not fully belong in this reality, ‘ready-made’ language becomes inadequate in description. Freud’s theory on the...

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