This week in class, we've had the pleasure of watching a movie over the span of a few days- "The Hulk" to be exact. It captured the familiar theme of dual personas in a powerful, yet action-packed story about Bruce Banner, a scientist infused with dormant nanomeds, which are activated through exposure to Gamma radiation. This eventually leads to the first appearance of the Hulk, a towering, green creature who emerges as a result of an emotional trigger, primarily anger.
We also read an extremely interesting novel by the name of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". At first, I was aghast after realizing that Dr. Jekyll had released his dual personality, Mr. Hyde, on purpose as a result of a potion. However, I later understood his perspective and acknowledged his desire to separate the good and evil inside him so neither could be corrupted by the other.
What I couldn't understand was the similarity between the two monsters when their creators clearly had different ideas in mind. While the Hulk was purely the result of an accident, Dr. Jekyll deliberately split his two natures into separate identities. Although both monsters were created through different means, they both committed similar despicable acts while in those forms- harming, nearly killing their peers.
So, were the doctors responsible for their behavior when they became their other self?
Before reading "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and watching "The Hulk", dual personas reminded me of some instances of bipolar disorder where the subject has no recollection of what happened during their episode. Earlier, my answer to this question would have been 'no', because I thought that evil overtakes a person so much so that they were not in control of their actions.
I wouldn't have been completely wrong, though.
When Dr. Jekyll first created Mr. Hyde, he noted, "I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine" (Stevenson 113). He was aware of the destruction he could cause when under this identity, but he still went ahead with it, believing it to be a good thing to separate the good and evil in him.
Eventually, it became more difficult to suppress the urge to become Mr. Hyde, and his evil persona grew stronger with each crime he committed. Not only that, but Dr. Jekyll eventually came to enjoy going on a rampage, as he stated, "With a transport of glee, I mauled the unresisting body, tasting delight from every blow; and it was not till weariness had begun to succeed, that I was suddenly, in the top fit of my delirium, struck through the heart by a cold thrill of terror" (Stevenson 122).
Analyzing the Question: Hulk
After Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk for the very first time, he succeeds in destroying his lab, and wakes up later, believing it all to be a dream. In the beginning, it seems that he has no control over his monstrous persona and merely allows it to go berserk. However, this is due to the fact that Dr. Banner was not aware of the existence of his other identity. When he comes to terms with it, he is able to stop and consider his actions before perpetrating them.
He also mentions to his ex-girlfriend and lab partner, Betty, that he likes it when he becomes the Hulk, and specifically said that he feels freedom when in this other persona. This implies that Dr. Banner is not only in control, but willingly executes those actions, just like Dr. Jekyll. As an example of his control, Dr. Banner stopped himself from attacking Betty after saving her from a pack of rabid dogs. He was able to control himself because he has a greater impulse to protect his loved ones.
Both doctors are able to control their actions (and therefore are responsible) and crush the urge to commit evil acts. In Dr. Jekyll's case, it was a little uncertain at first whether or not he was responsible because his monstrous side begins to emerge against his will, but his personal decision to unleash this side of himself in the first place made him blameworthy.
Before I finish, I want you to leave you with one question in mind:
What is human nature's compulsion?
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