The theme of good and evil in “I’m the king of the castle” and ” Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” Essay Sample
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Introduction of TOPIC
In books generally the contrast between good and evil is a very popular theme. The power struggle is captivating and when evil wins over good we like to think that it may work out the other way round.
This theme has been popular for quite a long time for example Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Greek tragedies. It is also seen today for example in Harry Potter.
In both “Jekyll & Hyde” and ” I’m the king of the castle” there is a huge contrast between these two extremes. These are represented by the two main characters.
Dr. Jekyll and My Hyde centres itself around the conception of humanity as having a dual nature. Jekyll said, ” man is not truly one, but truly two” “…all human beings…are commingled out of good and evil.” that is between an “angel” and a “fiend” each struggling for mastery. In “King of the castle” the two main characters seem to represent the two poles of good and evil.
In both stories the settings are dark, gloomy, creepy and quite secretive.
The story of Jekyll and Hyde is set as a contrast not only between good and evil but also between interior and exterior. In the exterior crimes took place and in the interior are secret laboratories and elegant rooms. Jekyll’s house is seen as an important metaphor. Its sinister black back entrance is related to Hyde and its public entrance used by Jekyll gives an impression of his great wealth.
The houses are quite similar in both books. In “I’m the king of the castle ” Waring’s is described as being both “ugly” and ” entirely graceless” and the door in Blackmail house in Jekyll &Hyde is described as being covered with ” blisters & stains” showing that the initial impression is that these are not very attractive places. Warings is described in many ways as being “ugly” and it had a lot of ” solidity and gloom” it is very isolated and ” some distance from any other houses”. It was made of ” dark-red brick” which makes it a dark house, again red maybe to symbolise danger and blood.
Kingshaw said it was ” too dark…smells un-lived in” which shows how much he really didn’t like it! Most of the places in this book show Kingshaws fears, the red room, the attic, the field, the shed and the cornfield. However there are some places where he feels safer, for example in the conservatory Kingshaw goes there because he can be alone and in the dolls room he feels safe and special there because the dolls cannot harm him and he has power over them for once. In Hang wood the boys have to survive away from the parents and for Kingshaw this is a place of peace, rest, brightness and of green but it exposes Hooper’s fear which somehow equals their power levels.
The areas that the two books are set in have the same feel to them Hang wood is described as being ” creeping…dead…cold, damp and musty” and Soho as having ” damp, foggy weather”. In both books any reference the to the weather is cold and dreary. In Jekyll and Hyde the characters always seem to come and go at night, and the only light is from the “dull moon” or from the flickering streetlights. These are very symbolistic representations to show the darker side of human nature
Stevenson throughout the novel tries to establish through an imagery of evil or menace in which dark streets twist and coil or are draped with fog. He does this through a link between the urban Victorian London and the events surrounding Mr Hyde. These visions also appear in Utterson’s nightmares ” He would be aware of the great field of lamps of the nocturnal city…..The figure..haunted the lawyer all night….& at every street corner crush a child and leave her screaming.” Stevenson paints a picture of Hyde as being an urban creature, very at home in the dark streets of London- where many crimes take place.
Susan Hill is trying to create a scary, dark, impression of the gardens and surrounding countryside. There is already a lot of local fear in the gardens “hang wood” and the threatening ” Barnards forest” , these are both names and places that seem frightening. “Thistles” and “stubble pricking” these quotes give the feeling of being uncomfortable. There is a sense of the fields never ending ” only more fields”.
In King of the Castle Kingshaw describes Hang wood as a place of entrapment ” there was no sign of the wood coming to an end, in any direction he could see. He felt closed in and stifled, with the everlasting dark greenness overhead, shutting out the sky”. The idea of the “big wood” is introduced as being frightening but in fact it turns out to be a good place for Kingshaw and he ends up liking it. It portrays the wood as having a feeling of brightness, space and greenness. It was a place where he knew there was nothing to be scared of.
The whole setting in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is very gothic, set in London. This causes a very depressing scene. Whenever Hyde strikes there seems to be no one around, making it seem scarier to other to go out at night alone because there is nobody to witness and trouble you may fall into. This story was written not long before the time when Jack the Ripper was still a worry, giving the readers more of a sense of Mr Hyde being true.
There are rooms in the houses which also reflect evil, for example in King of the Castle the Red room is seen as being scary to Kingshaw it seems to symbolise danger and fear. Dr. Jekyll lives in a nice house described in the book as having ” a great air of wealth and comfort”. His Laboratory is described as ” a sinister block of building…which bore in every feature, the marks of profound and sordid negligence” This laboratory quite neatly symbolises the corrupt and evil Hyde. Correspondingly, the respectable looking main house symbolises the respectable Jekyll.
This already shows us that there is a strong power struggle between good and evil, which is shown in many ways, in the buildings, rooms and also in the characters. In “King of the castle” Hopper is evil and delights in violence, which is similar to Hyde. Where as Kingshaw is good and feels in many ways dominated by Hooper, similar to the way that Jekyll becomes dominated by Hyde. In ” Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” one person transforms into two characters, showing the bad side to people. Most parents think of their children as being angels like and find it hard to imagine them actually having a bad side. Kingshaw’s mother and Hooper’s father fail to understand their children’s relationship.
Evil is a very strong feature of these stories and is shown mainly by the psychological violence of Hooper towards Kingshaw and how Hyde gets so strong he can take over the good side of Jekyll. It is very easy for evil to be shown because neither parents in King of the Castle are willing to take the trouble to get to know their children and all that is necessary for evil to triumph over is that people should not care for each other.
Hooper loves death and dead, un-natural things, for example when he touches the dead moths, puts the dead crow in Kingshaw’s bed and also the death of Kingshaw, which pleases him. This is much like Hyde, who is un-natural and artificially created. I find this a very good way to show how evil is present, and it is obviously quite a common way of doing so.
In Stevenson’s novel he tries his hardest to show us how deadly Mr.Hyde really is. He does this through the cruel trampling of the little girl and the brutal slaying of the M.P. In these images Hyde is portrayed as an urban creature, at home in the darkness of London, where many crimes take and have taken place.
Mr Hyde also actually causes death indirectly, much like Hooper. Dr. Lanyon soon passes away after seeing the shocking transformation. Stevenson here says that when someone has the ability to see the evil of a man he will die of ” morbid fascination”. This would have struck a chord with his readers. Hyde appears ugly and repulsively deformed; his physical ugliness symbolises his moral monstrous self. In Stevenson’s time many
people believed in science, which made them led to believe that a criminal type could be identified
In Hill’s novel Hooper eventually causes Kingshaws death, by pushing his so far over the edge, making Kingshaw so upset and desperate that he decides to end his life instead of continuing with the terror. He was thinking about the things Hooper had done in the past and that he many do in the future, he thinks about his mothers wedding and of the new school and realises he has no choice and there was nothing left for him. This gave him no choice but to ” lay down slowly and out his face full into it and breathed a long, careful breath”.
This leaves Hooper with a “spurt of triumph” much like how Hyde is triumphant, by eventually taking over Jekyll. Hooper finds Kingshaw’s body, he is so pleased because he now has a mother (Kingshaws mother) and finally has the house all to himself.
In both books one character triumphs over the other, right from the start.
When Kingshaw first arrived Hooper had the power over Kingshaw and makes his feelings known right from the starts “You do what I say” Kingshaw even “liked the dolls he felt more confident around them” this room where the dolls are in is his only secure place in the house. In the same way that Jekyll was uncomfortable with Hyde ” My devil had long been caged but he came out roaring” and his only safe place was “Utterson’s house” which “was a nice cosy looking place”.
Jekyll said he “was slowly losing hold of my original better self and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse ” this is when he realises that Hyde has got a hold on him that he cannot release. This is like Hooper, who uses intimidation and dominance to get his way. Hooper knew that Kingshaw wanted to get away from him and so he just followed him ” I told you I’d come after you, I said you wouldn’t be able to get away” which even though Kingshaw thought this would happen he know ” Hooper would come after him…hunting him down” was still a big horrible for him, because he feels trapped.
Kingshaw “Felt absolutely alone”, ” There might be no-other person in the whole world” Which again shows how alone and isolated Kingshaw feels.
The adults in King of the castle are so overjoyed at the great changes in their lives that they are totally oblivious to the events taking place with their own children. Mrs Kingshaw seems in a world of her own, where everything is happy and everyone is friends ” we shall really see the friendship commended”. Everything to her seems as thought it has to go well and turn out right. She told Edmund that living at warings was “her prayers answered” so thing must not go wrong as this is “her chance”.
Mr Hooper in the same way wants everything to please Mrs Kingshaw and he enjoys her company. This shows how tied up they are. It is quite hard to comment on these characters as Mrs Kingshaw is only really seen through the eyes of Charles.
I feel that the writers have portrayed the characters in similar ways but I do not think of Jekyll of Hyde as being real but in King of the castle I feel that Hill does a very good job of making us think that the boys are real. I can identify with both sides, although I tend to side with Kingshaw, the characters seem real and I can picture them clearer than in Jekyll and Hyde. I think this may be because we do not hear Jekyll speak until h last chapter and so do not identify with him as much. Whereas in King of the castle Kingshaw is speaking a lot, so we can see how he feels, what he does and we empathise with him, we identify and understand the character more.
We hear what the Kingshaw says, along with what he looks like, what he does and how others feel about him. Which are the main points in a story which make the readers relate to the characters.
I think that in these two books it is hard to decide who wins the power struggle in the end. I feel that in King of the castle it could go either way. Initially I thought that evil had won because Hooper drove him to kill himself and also because evil had won throughout the book but after thought it could be good that wins.
This is because maybe he gave away his life so that the good side could win. This is the same as in Jekyll and Hyde where Jekyll is forced by his evil side to kill himself simply because he doesn’t want the evil side to win, he would rather die with the good side than be evil.
In Steveson’s novel, we are told the story through the eyes of Enfield, Utterson, Lanyon and in the last chapter Jekyll himself, this helped me to see more clearly into their characters and relationships. This method of using multiple perspectives adds to the suspense and mystery of the story. I think this is a very effective way of telling the story, as the reader is told the story first then in the last two chapters to add a bit of realism they are written by Jekyll and Dr Lanyon.
Hill’s novel is told by a third person narrative, mostly Kingshaw’s perspective, although parts are through Hooper’s eyes. This story is not written in a complicated way and concentrates on the characters and the struggle between the good and evil characters, nothing else.
It has been written in chronological order and has a fairly concentrated time span. Which I think is a period of a few weeks. This adds to the intensity and power of the feelings of the characters. The inevitability is that Kingshaw cannot rid himself of the Evil and so Evil is dominant, this adds to the atmosphere, being written in a simple order with one viewpoint. The short time span adds to the feeling of evil indeed getting bigger.
Stevenson reveals the plot through letters, diaries and finally a casebook, this is a good way of trying to make us feel we are involved in the feelings and events instead of being told the story. This makes it into a detective story, with us as the detective, it makes it so the reader has to give more effort than just reading the story, which is what people wanted in the period it was written, people had to read to improve themselves.
In King of the Castle the structure does not requite any analytical knowledge, it is the character struggle that is more important. We can quickly find out that evil is stronger, Hooper is dominant to the weaker Kingshaw. The structure is not too useful or effective in reading the story and does not really help this power struggle.
Jekyll and Hyde is written in quite a difficult format as I said with multiple perspectives in that period, involved the readers more and caught the reader’s interest.
Stevenson tries to tell us that everyone has an evil side to them and it cannot leave them, it just has to be controlled. Throughout the novel he seems to suggest that although evil is a bad thing it cannot be separated from anyone. Mr Hyde was thought of as being evil, mainly because he was physically ugly and obviously deformed in some war. This was still thought of as evil but not as evil as it was intended when the novel was written.
In both novels there is a lot of imagery used, for example animal imagery and isolation.
The animal imagery is linked to evil, they are very powerful images. There is strong imagery and metaphor repeated to make a point.
Hyde is linked to an “the beast in man” many times he is said to have “ape like ” characteristics, when Utterson first meet him he described him as a “hissing” snake. Poole describes him as a “thing” which moves “like a money” and cries “like a rat”.
In King of the castle the powerful imagery is similar. Kingshaw does most of this, when looking at the dominant crow he said “the inside of its mouth was scarlet, it had small glinting eyes” this shows how much detail he takes into consideration. There is a lot more description in King of the Castle and we get involved more with this.
Hooper like Hyde is described in a way that makes you picture him as an animal ” Suddenly Hooper threw himself forwards and began to beat him fists into the ground, tearing convulsively at the leaves and soil with his nails and making a hoarse screaming, low down in his throat”. These two symbols of evil become linked for Kingshaw the crow symbolises Hooper, attacking his for no apparent reason. The crow appears in Kingshaws nightmares as does Hooper and the stuffed crow appears (pleased by Hooper) to torment him even more, as does Hooper when he will not leave Kingshaw alone.
The other dead creatures that become symbols for Kingshaws terror are the moths “Kingshaw’s stomach clenched.. he could smell the mustiness of the red room already”. He has always hated them, he hates the thought of their smell and their dusty, fluttering bodies. These moths link Hooper again with terror and death when Hooper visits the Red Room and crumbles the dead moth into dust.
In Jekyll and Hyde the weather helps us to see the theme of evil as well, nearly every description of the weather is unpleasant “the wind was continually charging and routing these emballed vapours…haggard shaft of daylight…..some city in a nightmare….mournful reinvasion of darkness”. These all add to the picture of evil, darkness and the generality of Hyde’s nature.
Both novels are connected with the traditions and cultures of the time in which they were written. These contrast with each other.
When Jekyll and Hyde was written there was a very different view to that of Susan Hill’s time. In Victorian times, novels were ordered and structured and people were very religious, with strong ideas and believed in heaven and hell and whether you were good or evil, which is reflected in Stevenson’s novel. Darwin’s ideas threatened people’s beliefs and the idea that humans were descended from apes worried them.
This idea of apes links to Hyde, who expressed the worries of the time, being that Hyde is much like the evil side to our nature, almost saying that our evil side was similar to an ape. There was a general fear of science, which is relevant to today, with some people thinking that science is evil. This is because of the contemporary science for example cloning which is considered by many people as being un-natural, much like Hyde. Another example is nuclear weapons. With science being so sophisticated anything could be created. These ideas reflect the concerns of the times in which they were written.
At the time King of the Castle was written, it was thought that backgrounds, environments and upbringing were important indications of whether you were good or bad and that it had nothing to do with Satan or humans descending from apes. Hill wrote the book so that the characters could be believable at that age. The novel has a strong aspect of child psychology, both children came form very dysfunctional families and didn’t not get a lot of attention or love from their mother figure. It was thought that they way we turned out was part of human nature and it can be nurtured one way or the other by parental care.
In conclusion I think that both books express the themes of good and evil very well, but the authors have chosen different ways to portray this power struggle. Both novels have done this through choice of setting, structure and characters. In both books, the setting plays an important part in showing this power struggle. There are certain places which reflect the evil side winning, and in King of the castle these places seems to triumph over the few places in which Kingshaw feels safe.
In both books the characters are the main key to this struggle between Evil and Good with both books leaving the reader feeling that evil had indeed triumphed over good.
The authors explain this through the way people relate to each other in the time they were written.
In Jekyll and Hyde, Stevenson is saying that Evil and Good are in all of us, they both exist inside one human. Whereas in King of the Castle, this idea is expressed in the two characters who have had different upbringings and Hill is saying that being good or evil is more to do with the way we have been nurtured and the experiences we have had in life.