Duality in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Category: Literature
Date added
2022/06/22
Pages:  3
Words:  862
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Jerrold M. Packard once said, “Upper–class Victorians feared an overabundance of passion, believing it only complicated matter and, more dangerously, led to thoughts of unrealistic liaisons between persons of unequal social stations” (“Victorian Era”). Robert Louis Stevenson asserts this point in his novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson was born on November 13, 1850 in Scotland. Stevenson suffered from several illnesses, and spent much of his young life bedridden. Stevenson decided that he wanted to become a writer when he was a teenager. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was first published in 1886, during the Victorian Era. The Victorian Era took place from 1837 – 1901. During this period, England became the greatest and wealthiest nation as well as the largest exporter and importer of goods (An Introduction to Victorian England). The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde explores the themes of duality of man and hypocrisy (Armstrong). The novella exposes the Victorian Era’s fascination with preserving appearances. Understanding Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde involves understanding the Victorian Era, Robert Louis Stevenson’s background, and the villain, Mr. Hyde, in the novella.

The Victorian Era took place during 1837 – 1901. This era was during the reign of Queen Victoria, hence why it is called the Victorian Era. Famous writers during this era include Robert Louis Stevenson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Robert Browning. The early style of Victorian novels tended to be about nature, moral lessons, and informing the reader on how to be a decent person. However, the later style of Victorian literature began to grow darker and more realistic to the reader. Supernatural and mystery themes began to appear during this period (“Victorian Literature”). During the Victorian Era, England grew in size, power and wealth, writers became political, and the population was characterized into two nations: the rich and the poor. As the Victorian Era progressed, the novels and novellas grew darker, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Robert Louis Stevenson was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson on November 13, 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the only child of parents Thomas and Margaret Stevenson. Stevenson spent much of his childhood bedridden due to many illnesses. As a child, Stevenson kept himself busy by making up stories with his brilliant imagination. When Stevenson was a teenager, he decided that he wanted to become a writer. Stevenson enrolled in Edinburgh University in November 1867. Stevenson changed his name to Robert Louis Stevenson before entering a campus literary club. Stevenson’s father was disappointed that his son wanted to become a writer. He wanted Stevenson to become an engineer like himself. However, Robert Louis Stevenson became a writer despite his father’s worries. In May of 1880 Robert Louis Stevenson married Fanny Osbourne, a divorced American woman with two children. In January of 1886, Stevenson published The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The novella became an instant success because the Victorian people could relate to it. Stevenson was able to see the success of his novella. Stevenson died on December 3, 1894 at the age of forty – four due to a brain hemorrhage.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was first published in 1886. The novella was one of few of his supernatural stories (Aronson). The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde shows the reality of life; many people in the Victorian Era did not want to admit that people truly meant to harm others. This is an example of how writing grew darker during the Victorian Era. In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the true villain is Mr. Hyde. Hyde is a cruel man lacking of morality and conscience (Armstrong). He is an evil, uncontrollable, terrifying criminal. Hyde is not only frightening to the people of London, but also to the reader. Mr. Hyde is described as being “something displeasing, something downright detestable” (Stevenson 2244). Not only is he an evil person, he looks like an evil person. He is described as having an “unexpressed deformity” (Stevenson 2253). Mr. Hyde’s first known crime is explained as “the man trampled calmly over the little girl’s body and left her screaming on the ground” (Stevenson 2242). Mr. Hyde causes many terrible reactions of the townspeople. Mr. Hyde terrorizes the people of London with his villainous crimes. The Victorian Era changed writing, instead of authors writing stories about landscape and imagination, they wrote stories about the supernatural and darker themes such as Mr. Hyde (“Victorian Literature”). The Victorian Era changed writing to be more realistic.

By understanding Robert Louis Stevenson’s, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, one must comprehend Robert Louis Stevenson’s background, the villain, Mr. Hyde, and the Victorian Era. As Jerrold M. Packard once said, “Upper–class Victorians feared an overabundance of passion” (“Victorian Era”). The Victorian Era was the change of writing for authors with The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde being one example, and Mr. Hyde being the villain not only in the novella, but to the readers as well. The Victorian Era changed writing forever.

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Duality in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (2022, Jun 22). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/duality-in-the-strange-case-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde/