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In what ways do you believe Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde reflects the interests of Victorian Britain?

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Megan Field 10MJO. February 19, 2004 In what ways do you believe that the literature you have reflects the interests of Victorian Britain? Queen Victoria reigned in Britain between 1937-1901. During this time in British history a large degree of change occurred. The writers of the time often reflected these substantial changes in their literature focusing on the interests of society. I have studied a variety of literature from the Victorian period and have chosen to write about three particular pieces; 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens (a short story), the novel 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley and another short story called 'The Tell Tale Heart' by Edgar Allen Poe. At the point when these stories were written, there were a wide range of issues touching society. However, for the benefit of this essay I am only going to focus on three of these; the role of God, the increasing advances in science and technology, the supernatural and insanity. The point which I am going to focus on first is about the role God played in many people's lives and how this is reflected in the literature of the Victorian period. In 'Frankenstein' Mary Shelley's point of view about the advances occurring in the progress of medicine and technology can be seen. She also explains the dangerous issues connected with man trying to copy the role of God. The central characters in 'Frankenstein' are Dr Frankenstein and his creation, the monster. Dr Frankenstein tells the story. At the beginning of 'Frankenstein', Dr Frankenstein becomes over confident with new advantageous technology. He intends to make the 'perfect human' in order to save lives and becomes somewhat obsessed with this idea. He surgically attaches many different body parts together from deceased people. He believes from his previous research that sending a lightning bolt through these grimly attached pieces may result in his creation coming to life. However Dr Frankenstein wasn't prepared for the result he achieved, `It's unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes`. ...read more.


The signalman promised the passer-by that if he made another visit, the next day at 11pm, he would try to tell him what it was. `If you ever make me another visit, I will try to tell you`. They wished each other goodnight. The signalman explained he didn't want the passer-by to call out to him when he arrived the following night. `And when you come down tomorrow night, don't call out! ... What made you cry, "Halloa! Below there!" tonight`? The signalman is extremely concerned and asks if those exact words were conveyed to the passer-by in any `supernatural way`. The passer-by denies any knowledge of this. The passer-by arrives on time at 11pm to meet the signalman, to find out what has been troubling him. The signalman explains he took the passer-by for someone else, `I took you for someone else yesterday evening. That troubles me`. He begins to tell his story. `One moonlit night...' The signalman explains he heard a voice calling him, `Halloa! Below there!` He got up, out of his seat and looked out of the window to see who it was. 'It' was standing near the red light outside the tunnel, shouting repetitively, `Halloa! Below there! Look out!` When the signalman ran up to 'it', to find out the problem, 'it' disappeared, into thin air. 'I ran right up at it, and had my hand stretched out to pull the sleeve away, when it was gone`. The passer-by tried to console the signalman. `He ought to know something of the wind and the wires`. The signalman had not finished. He went on to explain, `Within six hours after the appearance, the memorable accident on this line happened, and within ten hours the dead and the wounded were brought along through the tunnel over the spot where the figure had stood`. The passer-by reasoned that it was probably a coincidence. ...read more.


The murderer uses this phrase when he is about to describe the precautions he takes when hiding the body, under the floorboards. The murderer becomes aware of his victim's sleep pattern after watching him for seven nights and is extremely cautious. Poe builds up a lot of suspense in the first paragraph by leaving us with lots of unanswered questions about the murderer, which leaves us very confused about him. For example: 'What is the disease he talks about?' 'Why doesn't he believe he is mad'? 'Is his disease of the mind or is it physical?' The final point, which convinces the reader the murderer is insane, is at the end of the story. The police question him on some disturbances heard in the area earlier in the night. At first the murderer is calm and collected, 'The officers were satisfied'. His manner convinced them. He even placed his chair upon the floorboards, underneath was the dead body. The murderer begins to hear, 'A low, dull, quick sound- much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton'. He could hear the old man's heartbeat. The sound becomes louder and quicker, this agitates the murderer more and more. 'I foamed- I raved- I swore!' His sudden change in behaviour is what convinces the reader and the police, the murderer is mad. 'I admit the deed! - tear up the planks! - here, here! - It is the beating of his hideous heart!' The murderer admits he committed the murder. In conclusion it is clear that the literature I have studied, 'The Signalman', 'The Tell Tale Heart' and 'Frankenstein' all directly reflect the interests of Victorian Britain. The curiosities in the role of God, the increasing developments in science and technology, the supernatural and insanity were all reflected in these books, as was the work of Psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud. There was better transport than ever before and psychiatrists found out how the mind worked and were then capable of looking inside it. The literature had to reflect the interests of the time in order to be successful. ...read more.

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