I was still cursed with my duality of purpose; and as the first
edge of my penitence wore off, the lower side of me, so long indulged,
so recently chained down, began to growl for licence. Not that I
dreamed of resuscitating Hyde; . . . no, it was in my own person
that I was once more tempted to trifle with my conscience. . . .
this brief condescension to my evil finally destroyed the balance
of my soul. And yet I was not alarmed; the fall seemed natural,
like a return to the old days before I had made discovery. It was
a fine . . . day. . . . I sat in the sun on a bench; the animal
within me licking the chops of memory; the spiritual side a little
drowsed, promising subsequent penitence, but not yet moved to begin.
After all, I reflected, I was like my neighbours; and then I smiled, comparing
myself with other men, comparing my active goodwill with the lazy
cruelty of their neglect. And at the very moment of that vainglorious
thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most deadly
shuddering. . . . I began to be aware of a change in the temper
of my thoughts, a greater boldness, a contempt of danger, a solution
of the bonds of obligation. I looked down; my clothes hung formlessly
on my shrunken limbs; the hand that lay on my knee was corded and
hairy. I was once more Edward Hyde.
These words appear in Jekyll’s confession,
near the end of Chapter 10, and they mark
the point at which Hyde finally and inalterably begins to dominate
the Jekyll-Hyde relationship; Jekyll begins to transform into his
darker self spontaneously, without the aid of his potion, and while
wide awake. In the particular instance described in the passage,
it only takes a single prideful thought to effect the transformation—although
that thought comes on the heels of a Jekyll’s dip into his old,
pre-Hyde debauchery. As elsewhere, the novel gives no details here
of the exact sins involved in Jekyll’s “brief condescension to evil,"
and thus when he mentions “the animal within me licking the chops
of memory," we are left to imagine what dark deeds Jekyll remembers.
Again, the language of this passage emphasizes Jekyll’s dualistic
theory of human nature, as he contrasts “the animal within me" to
his “spiritual side." And the text deliberately presents Hyde’s
body as animal-like, especially in the reference to a “corded and
hairy" hand. In addition, Stevenson describes Jekyll’s longing as
a “growl for licence," which, ironically, is reminiscent of animals
communicating with each other. In a novel intentionally devoid of
billowy language and concerned more with providing a record than
with developing verbal description, Jekyll can be most vocally expressive
of his desires when he longs to transform into Hyde. As Hyde, he
loses the conscious abilities to form language completely, falling
victim to the instincts within and losing the ability to recall
exactly what is happening. The above description implies that Jekyll,
in becoming Hyde, is regressing into the primitive and coming closer
to the violent, amoral world of animals.