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Movie Analysis: Mr. Hyde and Dr Jekyll

Updated on December 20, 2014

Mr. Hyde and Dr Jekyll is a pre-Code 1932 horror film, which was directed by Mamoulian Reuben, starring Fredrick March. The film was adapted from the strange Case of Mr. Hyde and Dr Jekyll (1886). It majorly relates on the tale by Robert Stevenson about a man who develops and takes a specific type of drug, which releases his evil side and turns him from a mild-mannered science man into a murderous maniac (Stevenson, 1886). As the movies goes on, his appearance changes along with the behavior. This paper analyzes this movie using the perspective of Freudian theory.


From this movie, it is apparent that Dr Jekyll is a man full of compassion and he believes that human being has two distinct personalities, which consist of good and evil. The determined young doctor seeks to create a mixture, which will separate these two qualities. Unfortunately enough, after this mixture potion is complete, the young doctor takes it and subsequently, it turns him into a wicked and vicious man. Consequently, his name is changed into Hyde and from this time, he begins committing violent behavior against others. While Jekyll’s girlfriend was away with his father on a vacation, Jekyll experiments his findings and ends up brutalizing another young woman. Apparently, he holds this woman his her apartment against her wish for satisfying his sexual desires on his convenience. Fearing that the beast hood in him would hurt his wife to be, he decides to end their relationship. Unfortunately, the experience goes too far and he opts to antidote himself and end his dark side. However, his endeavor turns out to be unsuccessful until the police officers shoot him. The film ends as he transforms back to his former self.

Analysis using Freud’s Perspective

Freud believed that a personality is composed of three structures; the ego, the Id and the superego. The id represents the agency of the desires of the bodies, the superego cares for the moral prohibitions and the ego is for meditating function. We are born having the id and it lives within our unconsciousness. Further, the id functions according to the principle of pleasure. It does this by minimizing discomfort and maximizing pleasure. It searches only for pleasure without thinking of what is moral, practical or safe. On the other hand, the ego functions in accord to to the principle of reality and to some degree, represents reality. The superego on the other hand, is composed of internalized ideals, which a person acquires from the society or parents. It suppresses the urges of id and makes the ego to behave in a normal manner (Danto, 2005).

There exists a relationship between the superego and the Id in this movie.Dr Jekyll, a doctor and a moral citizen living within his society of which he confines and follows the specified rules suffers from repression, and the desire to be ultimately free from the boundaries, which are imposed on him. The outcome for expressing these primal desires is that Mr. Hyde.Dr Jekyll cannot possibly pursue his dark desires and at the same time maintain his reputation. In Freud’s perspective, this respectable Dr Jekyll could entertain thoughts as a young gentleman living a life that is forbidden and full of vices. However, he is held in check by his superego’s moral restraints. In essence, Jekyll transforms his moral and physical self into another being, Hyde, a diabolical man that stumbles in his wickedness.

Mr. Hyde is typically an Id. In particular, he is a seeker of pleasure, if it feels good, even killing. Furthermore, he indulges in any activity without conscience. Consequently, Mr.Hyde is perceived as a subconscious of Dr Jekyll yearning for freedom from the Victorian society, which is restrictive. Jekyll embraces this new sense of freedom, which he experiences as Mr. Hyde. The problem with this personality division is that DrJekyll recognizes that it is extremely dangerous to his life.

In essence, Freud’s ideology sought to examine and bring forth man’s unconscious desires and the illusions of the self and where the ego came from so they could be controlled. The self is a protrusion of the unconscious. The same unconscious is not unstructured, but determined and orderly. Freud established that signifiers pointed to signifields (Wollheim, Hopkins, 1982). In other words, a word is connected to an object which it refers to by conventional knowledge or recognized by doctrine, and also carries an innate meaning. Using the same argument, signifiers are not similar to other signifiers since the predictable meanings associated with each signifier are varied. Consequently, no reality exist other than the perception of this reality, which we perceive. All we have is therefore a reality, which is conceptualized.

When this is applied to Dr Jekyll character, we see an unwillingness of entering the social order in his character, which is made evident by Mr. Hyde, his alter- ego. At first he drinks the drug in order to enter into a realm that has no social mores, no laws from the father to follow. He assumes Mr. Hyde, the new identity so as to test those boundaries. Sinse Freud wanted to bring the unconscious forth to be understood, monitored and controlled, we can establish that Dr Jekylls unconscious desire is personified in Mr. Hyde, and this will enable us to see Dr Jekyll as the illusion of reality and he wasn’t whosever he claimed to be. He possessed unconscious desires which he had to let out. After doing so however, he did regret it and sought to quickly get rid of the hidden part of him. Moving on, we can then say that when we are born with corrupt and unconscious desires, then eventually in some way we will manifest them. To some degree, everyone is at the sympathy of fate in whatever hidden carnal desires that we are born with. With Freud, a person’s reality is not their true reality because the true identity lies in the unconscious.


Freud’s theory has served best to explain the behavior of Dr Jekyll. This means the theory can better be used to explain the meaning of changes taking place in various individuals.


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