There Has Always Been A Fascination With The Self, Often

1285 WordsFeb 24, 20176 Pages
There has always been a fascination with the self, often expressed in literature; Both Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) and Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon (1966) published nearly one-hundred years later, explore the theme of the importance of self-knowledge. Both The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Flowers for Algernon explore cases of self-alienation catalyzed by a quest for self-knowledge. The main character’s self-alienation stems from an attempt to comprehend the fact that both characters see a part of themselves as contrary to the whole of themselves. The only way they can comprehend that part of them is to separate that piece of themselves into an alternate persona. Both…show more content…
Charlie says that Other Charlie is just waiting in the back of his head for Charlie to lose control, interfering at points of intense emotion (248). This isolation of a portion of their personalities makes truly knowing themselves impossible, because they refuse to acknowledge this part of themselves as a piece of their personality, they can never truly know themselves Understanding one’s past is key to understanding oneself. Both of these books examine the past of the character for answers about themselves, and both come up short. In Flowers for Algernon, Charlie struggles to remember his past; when he finds out his intelligence is limited, one of the first tasks he undertakes is to visit his mother and find out more about the parts of his past he does not remember. He says “…I can’t be a complete person unless I can understand myself...” (264). One of the first topics discussed in Jekyll’s report of the case is his examination of his past as a possible cause for his evil streak. Even Jekyll’s friends turn to his past for an explanation of his odd behavior; they assume a mistake from his youth had come back to haunt him. Charlie, too, fails in his quest to understand himself through his past. His sister barely remembers him and his mother’s mind is so far gone he can barely hold a conversation with her; Like Jekyll’s, his examination of his past finds no reason why he would have gone bad. Because of their struggles to
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