I’ve been reading up on classic gothic fiction in preparation for writing SICK and its sequel. While I’m reading, I always highlight any passages that resonate with me. The following is from Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
I, for my part, from the nature of my life, advanced infallibly in one direction and in one direction only. It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both; and from an early date, even before the course of my scientific discoveries had begun to suggest the most naked possibility of such a miracle, I had learned to dwell with pleasure as a beloved daydream on the thought of the separation of these elements. If each I told myself could be housed in separate identities life would be relieved of all that was unbearable the unjust might go his way delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path doing the good things in which he found his pleasure and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil. It was the curse of mankind that these incongruous fagots were thus bound together that in the agonised womb of consciousness, these polar twins should be continuously struggling.
This passage captured my imagination. I tried to envision what it would be like if all the dark parts of my personality were removed, placed in a separate body, and left to walk about on their own.
At first I laughed at the thought of my evil twin skulking around town. She’d be in and out of bars, cursing at people one moment, flirting with them the next, eating fried foods, chain smoking, and stealing chocolate. What trouble would she get into without my good side to restrain her? I wouldn’t dare write it down. I’ll just let you speculate on that…
Then I thought about my pristine, righteous self who would be free of temptation and weakness. What would she accomplish now that there were no negative thoughts, judgements, resentments, gripes, or depraved thoughts to drain her energy and taint her higher dreams? She’d probably become a vegan evangelist who adopts dozens of dogs, children, and smelly vagrants. She would talk in a Bob Ross voice and never get annoyed–not even with stupid people. What would she write about? Rainbows and unicorns?
Would I kick my Evil Self out of the house and tell her to please stay the hell away from me?
Would my Evil Self bitch-slap me, laugh maniacally, and run off with my purse?
Hopefully my Evil Self would take my passport and fly to the other side of the world. Right? Then I could do all my saintly activities in peace.
But then what? I don’t know. I think I might get kind of bored, and boring (and I suspect my husband would miss the bad girl too).
Just like the characters we read and write about, our personalities need both the good and bad to make life interesting. Without the struggle between the two, we can’t learn anything new.
I don’t think I’d separate my good and evil twins if I had the choice.
What do you think?
If you could remove all your nasty quirks, would you?
If you could choose, which bad traits would you get rid of first?
What would your evil side be like?
What would your good side do?