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How does Stevenson present the lives, beliefs and concerns of people living in the second half of the 19th century in his novel "The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde"?

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Introduction

How does Stevenson present the lives, beliefs and concerns of people living in the second half of the 19th century in his novel "The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde"? The gothic glory of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" reflects dramatically the beliefs and concerns of a troubled populace at the turn of the 20th century. He uses dramatic techniques to convey the scientific refrains of the time. The techniques he uses also express the moral statures of the different classes of the population. He experiments with the relationships between the ethics and morals of religion against the the challenging and often revolutionary ideas of science, A theme that is still common today which probably the reason that this book is so well known as a classic. The ideas in the book are strongly linked to the work of Dr. Sigmund Freud, an American Psychologist who's work was very influential and revolutionary at the time. Freud's work largely consisted of theory's about the different levels of consciousness in the human mind. Stevenson in this book expands the theory out of the mind and into the body itself. Beliefs at the time that this book is set were mixed and varied due to the large number of conflicting ideas. ...read more.

Middle

The main scientific theory expressed in the book is the theory of duality which is the theory that every human is made up of two sides, good and evil. These two are in permanent conflict with on another and that this leads to the turbulent nature of human personality. This theory is an extension on the works of Dr. Freud. Dr. Jekyll believed that he could split the two conflicting sides, which he did to a certain extend though not controllably. He manages to separate the to personalities but due to the fact that he was feeling boastful and superior to the other scientists at the time, these evil thoughts are expressed in the the physical manifestation of his evil "polar twin" Mr. Edward Hyde. Jekyll's original intention was to be able to separate the good from the evil permanently to create a utopia of pure goodness untainted by evil. In this sense he was misguided and this hints to the overall morale of the book that the worst of things can come form the best of intentions. Jekyll soon realises that he cannot control Hyde and that Hyde is only returning control of the shared body to Jekyll when it suits his purpose. Hyde himself is expressed by Stevenson as malformed and this develops into the fact that Hyde is pure evil. ...read more.

Conclusion

These concerns for the effects of drugs such as these are mirrored by Dr. Lanyon's firm denial of their existence as science and damns it to the same place he holds religion as "unscientific balderdash". Stevenson shows that crime was rife on Victorian streets and that this was another concern of the populace. The expresses this fact through the sentence "a man listens and begins to long for the sight of a policeman" uttered by Mr. Richard Enfield in his dialogue to Mr. Utterson. This suggests that Enfield has had a near bad experience in the past involving crime on the streets. The lives of the people are presented by Stevenson in a variety of different and interesting ways. The obvious social class boundaries that existed at that time are expressed on numerous occasions. Stevenson closely describes the middle class of which most of the main characters including Jekyll and Lanyon are members of. They are expressed as respectable members of society with reasonably large amounts of money and interests in matters which are of an intellectual nature. The other classes are also featured in this book. We can perhaps read an in sighting the social feelings of the time when we see that Sir Danvers Carew was murdered by a member of the lower class when he himself was a member of the upper class or Nobility. 1426 words James Greenhalgh 11A ...read more.

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