p.p1 Louis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of

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My own learning and process of responding too texts has shaped my further understanding of discovery by allowing me too have renewed perspectives of humanity and the world. The process of discovery isn’t authentic unless theres an epiphany which can invoke a range of emotions for those involved in the process, often challenging long standing beliefs and ideas possessed by an individual, thus prompting a renewed view for the characters and the audience of themselves and the world. William Shakespeare’s tragicomedy “The Tempest” explores the restoration of humanity in an individual through the themes of forgiveness and illusion vs reality. Comparatively, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde also explores the restoration of humanity in an individual through the themes of empathy and corruption. 

The power of magic in “The Tempest” serves as a catalyst for Prospero’s unexpected self-discovery that he is capable of forgiveness. By discovering the value of forgiveness, he ultimately transforms his widely held beliefs and perceptions of humanity within himself. Through the use of the hyperbole “twelve winters” in “…Thou hast howled away twelve winters..” reflects Prospero’s own exile of twelve years on the Island; an island which he has made of himself and cannot restore his humanity until he has forgiven those who had usurped him. Shakespeare utilises dramatic irony to emphasise how Prospero’s own scheme forces himself to recognise the suffering he causes his usurpers, and his epiphany that his actions are immoral is evident through the rhetorical question in “shall not myself, as a human be kindlier moved than thou art?”. This epiphany leads to Prospero’s discovery of the value of forgiveness, as evident in  “The rarer action is / In virtue, than in vengeance” , whereby the juxtaposition of  “virtue” and  “vengeance” reinforces the significant change in Prospero’s mindset. Thus, by achieving the capacity to forgive those who have betrayed him, Prospero regains his humanity. Through my process of responding to this text, it has shaped my understanding of the significance of forgiveness as a vital part of human interaction if we are to maintain healthy relationships and find peace within ourselves. Hence, Prospero’s transformation, as seen in his discovery of forgiveness, restores his values of humanity and transforms his widely held beliefs and perceptions of himself.

Similarly in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, a sudden epiphany which Dr Jekyll possesses, leads to his discovery of his humanity and re-discovery of his empathy. Dr Jekyll sets out to seperate the good and evil facets of humanity, this is evident through his epiphany “Wouldnt it be marvellous if the two natures of man could be housed in two different bodies?”. Dr. Jekyll exerts this epiphany and applies science to it which results in a potion that could release the savage in him whilst keeping his true identity a secret. Like Prospero, of whom hides behind his magic, Dr Jekyll hides behind science which leads to their ultimate self-discoveries. Initially, like Prospero, Jekyll is pre-occupied by the attainment of knowledge, which is evident through his emotive language in “dwell with pleasure as a beloved day dream, separation of evil and good, relieved of all that was unbearable.” which empathises the possibilities that may arise from ridding humanity of its evil nature. Hyde thoroughly enjoyed committing violence, and afterwards felt a rush of excitement and satisfaction; “with glee. i mauled the unresisting body, tasting delight from every blow.” Through this powerful imagery of senseless violence against innocent victims, Stevenson expresses the true corruption and pure evil of Hyde. However, despite his indulgence in these evil deeds, he soon discovers the ramifications of Hyde’s cruel actions as a result of his lack of empathy for others, recognising his own flaws, and thus like Prospero, feels remorse for the suffering he has inflicted on others.

Through my process of responding to The Tempest, it has shaped my understanding that challenging discoveries can lead to individuals re-evaluation of their perception of themselves and the impact of our actions on others. “The Tempest” explores this discovery through the ‘Banquet’ scene. Ariel’s illusory banquet represents the climax of Prospero’s revenge, as Antonio and Alonso are confronted with their crimes, forcing the lords to reflect on their past misdeed and consider its consequences. This is reflected in  “You are three men of sin…Upon your heads – is nothing but heart’s sorrow, / And a clear life ensuing.” The illusion and the threat of retribution generates remorse within Alonso, as he now believes that the Ferdinand’s  ‘death’ was retribution, however Antonio, who is not open towards discovery is almost unfazed. This is emphasised in “It did bass my trespass. / Therefore my son i’ th’ ooze is bedded” as Alonso believes that it is because of his crimes and actions that have resulted in his son, Ferdinand’s death. According to Gonzalo, through the simile “great guilt, / Like poison” is only now starting to immerse in, leading them to make the transformative discovery of the hardships that they have caused others. Therefore, we understand the negative impact of our actions on others, which in turn offer us a renewed perception of ourselves and the world around us.

Similarly in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, discoveries that are challenging can lead to individuals re-evaluation of their perception of themselves and others through unexpected epiphanies. Through Jekyll’s irrational transformation into Hyde, he ultimately sets himself on a path to an emotional discovery that evil is at the core of humanity. Jekyll gains a renewed perception and understanding of himself and others, expressed through the personification in “shook the doors of the prison-house of my disposition… my evil, kept awake by ambition, was alert and swift to seize the occasion”.This powerful imagery emphasises Jekyll’s re-evaluation of his perception of himself as he reaches the unexpected epiphany and discovery that self-satisfaction can be developed through corruption rather than good deeds. Also, the distressing consequences of Jekyll’s wicked deeds challenge his own perception of himself, which is evident through the epiphany in “I was .. plunged into a kid of wonder at my vicarious depravity”. Similarly in the Tempest, like Alonso who reassess his beliefs about power after the painful discovery of his son’s death, Jekyll endures an emotional conflict to reconcile his moral values with the unexpected freedom of immorality and corruption. Thus, both Shakespeare and Stevenson, by portraying the transformative nature of confronting discoveries through emotional epiphanies, highlight their prominent role in offering new, authentic understandings of ourselves and others. 

In conclusion, through my process of responding too “The tempest” by William Shakespeare and “Mr Hyde and Doctor Jekyll” By Robert Louis Stevenson, it has shaped my further understanding of discovery as they have been my catalyst which has lead myself to have a discovery that ultimately, there are two sides to every person, a delightful, humanist side and an evil, corrupt and wicked side. Everyone, like Prospero and Dr. Jekyll, has the ability to give into the dark-side of oneself, however; one can make a self-discovery of themselves through an epiphany which can change the minds of several individuals and makes the discovery much more authentic by changing the way they see themselves and others, allowing them to re-discover their humanity. 

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