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Is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde an Effective Representation of Evil?

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Is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde an Effective Representation of Evil? The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, originally published in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson, arguably remains a popular novella even today because of its representations of evil and themes concerned with evil such as morality. Originally written for a Victorian audience, the text follows the conventions of the time - for example, the Georgian style of introducing and portraying characters by their social class and status. In writing his classic, Stevenson wanted to "focus on the suggestion that evil is potentially more powerful than good"1 - an idea which would have been out of place then. Indeed, though the Victorian era was a period of great scientific advancement, society was still firmly routed in religion: Sunday would be reserved for Church, a copy of the Bible would be the only book possessed by many, and blasphemy was considered both morally and legally a major crime. Though Charles Darwin had challenged the Biblical theory of Creation some seven years earlier in his thesis The Origin of Species, his works were generally not accepted by the majority of the population - it is extremely likely, as well as logical, that most of his support would have come from the scientific community, which is ironic considering that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde focuses around the medical profession. Therefore, by focusing on the suggestion that "evil is potentially more powerful than good" 1 - i.e. that God was not almighty or prevalent - Stevenson risked not only the popularity of his novella, but of his reputation as an author. The definition of evil itself has changed since 1886: society is no longer routed in religion, and although religions do have some influence, many Christians disregard parts of the Bible, such as the Creation Theory and Leviticus, are disregarded by most Christians (with the exception of literalists2), and many morals are based on influences other than religions. ...read more.


- indeed, The Vatican once debated if women even had souls. Cavendish Square is an area that often features in the novel. Originally built in 1848, and one major feature of the square is the arch which leads to the University of London's Department of Theology - as this is a notable location in the book, where medicine is once delivered to Hyde, the positioning cannot be co-incidental: Stevenson intended it to highlight God's role in morality, but also the fact that evil can happen under God's nose, or generally under good - for example, Hyde flourishing under the skin of Jekyll. Also, the fact that a theology department and a square named after a famous scientist - "that citadel of medicine" as Utterson regards it - shows how religion (representing morality) and science can go together, and that therefore Jekyll is wrong by person, not by profession. To sum up, Stevenson effectively represents evil subliminally through allegory. * * * One of the major themes in the book is that of good versus evil within the human and thereby the duality that humans - and other objects - can posses. Steveson makes use of it because firstly, dichotomy is an interesting topic, which has captivated the minds of authors from Virgil the modern philosopher Kant. However, another advantage of the theme of duality is contrast: it makes the black look blacker and the white looks whiter. Thereby, because Utterson is free of sin and Hyde possesses no admirable qualities, the former is perceived as an angel, the latter a devil. The street in which John Gabriel Utterson and Richard Enfield walk through in The Story of the Door is an obvious duality: the street is described as "doing well... the shop fronts on that thoroughfare stood with an air of invitation, like smiling saleswomen" but that two doors from the corner "a certain sinister block of building thrust forward its gable on the street," which shows that the two areas of the street contrast. ...read more.


like a sixth sense"16 and that "the psychological interaction between two humans over an hour will take the lifetimes work of half the population of the Unites States."17 Therefore, it is evident that Stevenson believes that appearances can inform us of evil, and thus he represents evil through appearance. We are often told that it is important for us to control ourselves, and this is reflected by Jekyll in Dr. Jekyll Was Quite at Ease when he says "I can be rid of Hyde at any time" - which implies that he has control over Hyde. However, as readers, we know that this isn't the case - and that Hyde can reveal himself at any moment, such as in the park, as he does once, without Jekyll even taking the potion. Jekyll's comment can be compared to that of a smokers, or a drug addicts: "I can quit any time" - however in reality, this is rarely possible - as highlighted by his two month spiel when he "came out of seclusion, renewed relations with his friends... [and] that evil influence had been withdrawn." However, as is later revealed, Hyde still manages to take control of him. Thereby, by doing this, Stevenson effectively represents evil through the lack of control. In conclusion, Stevenson effectively represents evil through allegory, duality, hypocrisy, morality and by linking it to a common audience. Notes: 1 Introduction, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1994 2 See: God Hates Fags [www] http://www.godhatesfags.com/ and God Hates Globes [www] http://www.godhatesglobes.com/ 3 See: Stafford News 4 Mike Wolfe, Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent 5 Wikipedia [www] http://www.wikipedia.org/ 6 Genesis 4:11 - The Bible (The King James Version) 7 The Inland Voyage, Robert Louis Stevenson 8 Classic Notes [www] http://www.gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/jekyll/ 9 Essay Crawler [www] http://www.essaycrawler.com/viewpaper/55322.html/ 10 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Criticism [www] http://www.enotes.com/dr-jekyll/7417/ 11 The Carew Murder Case 12 Wikiquote [www] http://www.wikiquote.com/ 13 Peter Bell the Third, P.B. Shelly 14 Wikipedia [www] http://www.wikipedia.org/ and Dr. Mumtaz Pardhan 15 The Placebo Effect: Harnessing Your Mind's Power to Heal [www] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031231084101.htm. 16 Leil Lowndess, Relationship Psychologist ...read more.

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