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Strange Case and the Murders

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Strange Case and The Murders:
Dividing Human Minds
Alexis Osorio
DeVry University

There can be no up without down, no dark without bright, and no wrong without right; the same idea can be applied to the human mind. There is some sort of duality in the human mind and has been a recurring theme of discussion in many stories. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Strange Case) (Stevenson, 1886) brings the topic of human duality to the forefront by observing it from a third person point of view. Edgar Allan Poe brings up human duality too from a first person point of view in his work The Murders in the Rue Morgue (The Murders)(1841). Strange Case is about an internal struggle that is externalized, while The Murders shows no struggle between the characters. The former about the concept of self-control, while the latter on mental capacity. Although both stories show it in very different ways, the underlying theme is the same, the duality of the human mind is true and apparent but cannot be separated. It may help to demonstrate the nature of human duality with another concept that is physical but not human, the wave-particle duality. This concept is derived from the nature of light, or electromagnetism. Classically, people, especially scientist, used to believe that waves and particles were two separate entities but after an experiment (the double-slit experiment) found that light behaves as both at the same time. This concept shook science from the very foundation upon which it stood and began the era of quantum mechanics. Many people assume that the human mind is one but in actuality it is two, similar to the wave-particle duality. These two minds are one in the same and cannot be separated but there is most definitely a duality to be observed. Reading Strange Case puts the reader into a character known as Mr. Utterson, a lawyer who keeps much self control over his urges. One of his clients is Dr. Jekyll, happened to write a will leaving his estate to a Mr. Hyde, an unknown character at the time. Over the course of the story Mr. Hyde is discovered to be a heinous character, trampling over a little girl and killing a member of the British Parliament. Mr. Utterson's curiosity spikes when he notices that Dr. Jekyll always ends up covering for Mr. Hyde. After Mr. Utterson's investigation, at the end of the story, the reader finds out that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are in fact the same person. Dr. Jekyll concocted a drug that transformed him into Mr. Hyde, his alter ego that indulged in every vice without self control, demonstrating to the reader of the duality of humans. The Murders, on the other hand, was a detective story. The narrator, an unnamed character, along with Mr. Dupin solve a crime that could not be solved by the local police. In the newspaper, Mr. Dupin reads about a savage murder of two women. A woman and her mother, rarely interacting with society, are brutally murdered in their own home but no valuables were taken, causing confusion about the motive of the murders. The story takes the reader from the initial mystery to a conclusion via Mr. Dupin's deductive reasoning skills, with the narrator asking questions a reader may have. The theme here may be a bit harder to decipher as it is less apparent but it can be brought to light by the nameless narrator who asks questions and Mr. Dupin answering them. As this analysis progresses, the theme of duality will become more evident. The first story, Strange Case, makes the duality very apparent by showing it to the reader in a third person point of view. The duality is obvious as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde being the same person, not known until the end of the story. The author shows the reader, from the point of Mr. Utterson, that the two minds of a person cannot be distinguished and so Mr. Utterson does not discover that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the same person until the end of the story. Mr. Hyde physically transforms into another person, including features such as stature and skin complexion. The author purposely makes these two characters different in physical appearance as to show how different these two characters, or minds, are. The next story makes the human duality less apparent and has to be analyzed a bit different. The Murders is written in a first person point of view, something that has to be taken into consideration. On the surface, this story falls in the genre as detective fiction but reading into the story as a whole, a reader can conjecture the duality of the human mind. Considering the fact that the narrator is nameless, a reader can safely assume to be in the author's mind. The narrator starts his story about the mental capacity of man, then tells the reader he discovers a brilliant man in the library to which he became good friends with. This marks the authors discovery of his other half. He solves a mystery by efficiently utilizing both his minds per se. The two minds concept is shown in both stories but from different perspectives. One from a distance to make it conspicuous while the other puts the reader up close. Putting the reader too close to the idea can actually obscure the concept which makes the theme more difficult to decipher, sort of like trying to read print an inch away from the eyes. Also, although the duality is there in both stories, shown from a different perspective, it is also demonstrated in two different manners. Strange Case shows an internal conflict between the two minds while The Murders shows a collaboration of the two. Stevenson creates a story that shows the two minds going in different directions. The concept is self-control, discussed further in the essay. Mr. Hyde does what he wants with disregard to others and society while Dr. Jekyll constantly tries to repair the damages done by him. Similar to a child and a parent, a child will usually run wild while the parent is compelled, by society at least, to remedy the situation. The author shows an internal struggle of the two minds by externalizing the minds into actual characters. A notable instance is at the beginning when Mr. Hyde turned a corner and trampled a little girl, without regards to her wellbeing he did not stop. The girl's father and Mr. Enfield, Mr. Utterson's assistant, ran after Mr. Hyde and threatened to make a huge scandal, with no other choice Mr. Hyde pays a sum of money for restitution. The money came out of Dr. Jekyll's account, while both being the same person, Mr. Hyde does not solve the problem on his own account, again, like a child using his parent's resources. While Stevenson shows an internal struggle of two minds, Poe shows collaboration of the two. Mr. Dupin solves the problem all on his own but the narrator provides the crucial questions that lead to the solution. It is normal for people to have questions because they do not know the answer but how is it possible to ask a question and then also provide an answer. This is only possible with two minds, one mind asks because it does not know, then another answers because it does know. The duality becomes apparent in the story when both the narrator and Mr. Dupin were strolling down a street, where neither had spoken a word for at least 15 minutes, then Mr. Dupin says something as to have had been conversing with the narrator. The narrator responds quickly as if they had been speaking for a while, then in awe asks Mr. Dupin how did he know what he was thinking. Mr. Dupin, with logic, reasons his answer but the only way he could have predicted the narrator's entire train of thoughts for 15 minutes is if their minds were one in the same. Both stories have gone in different directions, aside from different points of view, but the nature of human duality should be more clear at this point. Strange Case shows an internal conflict, that in itself can be used as proof to the human duality. Internal means it is on the inside, in one's own mind in this case, and conflict means a disagreement, a disagreement needs two parties, one to provide an opinion and another to express a different opinion. The Murders on the other hand has two minds going in the same direction sort of like a council, board of directors, or committee, all discussing a matter proactively to come to a consensus. The only difference here is that only the narrator provides the questions and Mr. Dupin provides the answers, adding quality to the story and making Mr. Dupin seem more intelligent. Poe's topic is mental capacity while Stevenson's topic was self-control. Self-control itself implies duality, perhaps the reason why Stevenson used it in his story. Young children do not exercise self-control, they cry and pout at any time they see fit. Over time a child will learn self-control as the two minds develop. One mind wants to do something and another one tells it not to. Many people do not actually develop the more intelligent mind, for lack of better words, and will act on impulse such as buying unnecessary items on credit, and eating unhealthy and expensive foods because of convenience. Mr. Utterson, from the beginning, is noted to have high self-control or as the author states in the first paragraph, "He was austere with himself." The only way to be strict with oneself is if there is one mind that wants to do something but another one recognizing that it is, in some fashion, wrong. Poe did not mention self-control but did explicitly state about mental capacity. In fact, his introduction, the first four paragraphs, concerns mental features. After trying to explain his thoughts about the mental abilities, he stays as the narrator and introduces a new character, Mr. Dupin. At the beginning of the story, Mr. Dupin is introduced as an excellent young man who had faced hardship and "had been reduced to poverty," at this point in time, Poe was 32 years young and living in poverty too, just as Mr. Dupin. The author, Poe, took the place of the narrator while also abstracting his other mind and giving it to the character of Mr. Dupin. Working together, they solved the mystery, one providing the crucial questions while the other providing the answers. The true theme in these two stories is human duality or two minds. Comparing the two provides a very valuable lesson. In Stevenson's story, these two minds were going in different directions causing chaos, ultimately leading to death in this case. Human duality is a powerful force and can be self-destructive if not harnessed as seen in the first story. On the flip side, two minds working in tandem or in the same direction can be very beneficial or favorable at the least. Mastering one's both minds can and will increase one's mental abilities as demonstrated by Poe. In conclusion, the duality of human minds is the theme of these two stories and is self-evident. Stevenson conveys this in a third person point of view while Poe does it in first person. Stevenson's story is about an internal struggle that is externalized while Poe writes about two concurring minds. Stevenson's topic is about self-control while Poe's is mental capacity, or abilities. Even with all the differences in the two stories, the central theme of human duality is present. Both stories provide enough evidence and make the nature of the two minds discernible and apparent. Alas, there is one thing that these two minds cannot do, and that is, to separate the two minds themselves. References
Poe, E. A. (1841). The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Retrieved from http://www.mysterynet.com/edgar-allan-poe/murders-in-the-rue-morgue-full/
Stevenson, R. L. (1886). Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons…...

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