Stevenson's Portrayal of Human Nature in the Late Victorian Society

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1188 Words
Date:  2022-03-03

The popular Marxist political theorist and America political theorist Frederic Jameson emphasized the concept of 'historicizing' in his analysis and political research about Marxism and postmodernism. Taking into account Jameson's perspectives about history and incidents of the time, it is easy to link literary works and the period. Most readers, as established, understand that most literary works mirror the backgrounds of the communities and societies of the time. The most typical attribute of novels is their relevance to the specific time and space dimensions, which distinguish them from other works, such as epic and romance. Writers are prepared to familiarize with the settings characters are situated. In approaching the present works in Jameson's perspective, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson is considered a creative Gothic story that emphasize on the supernatural concerns and the point of departure between evil and good in the society (the duality of Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll), which leads to the realization of the moral concerns as a fable. As characteristics of the novel are insufficient in dealing with the historical aspects of the society, it ought to be viewed in a more space and time dimension to understand the objective of Stevenson, which seeks to yield insights to various aspects of the ancient Victorian society. Consequently, the text should be considered as a social critique that enables readers to attain a vision towards the Ancient Victorian values, human nature and the duality of Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll.

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Concerning dualism, the hypothesis that leading figure anticipates about the human body and psyche contribute to the awareness of human nature in Victorian society. Dr. Jekyll is a scientist and scholar on the human mind and believes that the human brain comprises two parts, the evil and good. It is believed that it is the reason people are not stereotyped as either evil or good. The theorist depicts some footprint of the works by Charles Darwin, particular the origin of species hypothesis. Although a sophisticated, respectable and civilized doctor, he doubles as a primitive and inhuman person repulsive of societal change. As held by Darwin that human beings evolve from relatively simple organisms, Mr. Hyde is regarded as a simple organism with animal-like resemblances, referred to as 'Child of Hell.'

On the other hand, the doctor is a relatively complex organism with rationality and consciousness in his thoughts that place his at the peak of the evolutionary process of human beings. Similarly on the duality hypothesis is explained using the Sigmund Freud's theory on the structural model of the human mind. The struggle and confrontations between the doctor and his evil self is a mirror image of the opposing forces between the id and superego. Dr. Jekyll fails to assume a proper role he expects from the society despite revealing his real identity with his instincts and passions. The social exclusion divides his image into two halves, and when he experienced his first transformation a Mr. Hyde, the protagonist finds pleasure in freedom and violence, making him Superego with no social boundaries or codes. These tendencies cannot be controlled because the character is unconscious of his actions. On the other hand, Jekyll is a powerful ego with control over various aspects of the Victorian Society. He comprehends his actions and conducts himself as a respectable doctor and members of the society.

As mentioned, Hyde is a good-natured person and represents moral values of the time and has exceeded his implicit desires to become a reputable adult with great societal standing in a manner in which most middle-class people of the Victorian Society strive. Dr. Jekyll is a product of the Victorian culture, the same as the output of factories during the era of the Industrial Revolution. Being a doctor, the doctor is compelled to some set of social norms acceptable in the community, as well as holds his family properly. The two depict identities of persons shaped by the outcome of definite influences. Dr. Jekyll awareness of the status of the resident society leads to the creation of his underlying profundity and different lifeways. The hidden self is the opposite of the expected norms, breaking every rule, murdering people and revealing his every personality aspect. Mr. Hyde dominates the stern Victorian culture, telling the truth on how community members rank rules on individualism.

Another issue that becomes clear with the emergence of the hidden self is the hypocrisy of the period. Stevenson attempts to send a message that the Victorians suppressed the instincts and pleasures of their souls. Despite wearing artificial masks for purposes of sticking strictly to the boundaries and codes set in place and behave respectably as Dr. Jekyll, the mask was burdensome. They fail to realize that activities are fun but still against the established rules of a fervent society. In the last section of the novel, when Dr. Jekyll is devoid of chemical drugs, he engages in things that are against social norms and realizes he cannot redeem himself, opting for suicide as an escape route.

From the above discussion, it is apparent that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson reflect the Victorian period as opposed to considering it with its mythical form attributes. The novel is a Gothic novel with mythological and supernatural elements that make readers realize the progress of science during the Victorian period and the empirical studies by Dr. Jekyll are a reflection of the development and innovation during the period. Even though all the above can be qualified as an assessment of the novel, it is impossible to comprehend it as a whole without considering the aim of Stevenson and his 'historicizing' perspective in a given background and context. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson is a composition that deepens readers understanding of the Late Victorian era with a focus on human nature, body, and its unpredictable background that is the opposite and an equivalent to Dr. Jekyll. Mr. Hyde is regarded as a simple organism with animal-like resemblances.

Conversely, Dr. Jekyll is a relatively complex organism with rationality and consciousness in his thoughts that place his at the peak of the evolutionary process of human beings. These tendencies cannot be controlled because the character is unconscious of his actions. The two depict identities of persons shaped by the outcome of definite influences. The hidden self is the opposite of the expected norms, breaking every rule, murdering people and revealing his every personality aspect. Despite wearing artificial masks for purposes of sticking strictly to the boundaries and codes set in place and behave respectably as Dr. Jekyll, the mask was burdensome.

Works Cited

Althick, Richard D. Victorian Peopele and Ideas; a Companion for the Modern Reader of Victorian Literature. New York: Norton, 1973.

Anolik, Ruth Bienstock. Demons of the Boday and Mind: Essays on Disability in Gothic Literature. Jefferson: McFarland & Company INC., 2010.

Block, Ed. "James Sully, Evolutionist Psychology, and Late Victorian Gothic Fiction." 1982. JSTOR. 15 April 2015 < http://www.jstor.org/stable/3826981>

Stevenson, Robert L. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekll & Mr. Hyde and Other Stories. London: CRW, 2004.

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Stevenson's Portrayal of Human Nature in the Late Victorian Society. (2022, Mar 03). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/stevensons-portrayal-of-human-nature-in-the-late-victorian-society

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