In the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, details the story of 2 men, who appear to be polar opposites living in the Victorian era. During Victorian times, lower-class citizens, who lived in crime ridden, impoverished areas, were regarded as a degenerate form of life. On the other hand, affluent members of the upper-class were considered fully evolved, functioning members of society. Stevenson analyzes these Victorian concepts by following the story of a quintessential man of riches, as well as a criminal, who repulsed almost everyone around him.
The former, Dr. Henry Jekyll is an admired doctor, from a nice part of London, and is known for his civility. The latter, is Mr. Edward Hyde. Hyde is suspected to have committed two murders, and appears to be pre-human. Stevenson accentuates these men’s differences throughout the story, by juxtaposing the settings they are commonly found in. However, at the end, we learn that Hyde is a part of Jekyll. As a young scientist, Jekyll attempted to split the good and evil in him, into two independent people. He was only partially successful, but he managed to separate his evil into a new persona, Hyde. Stevenson complicates Victorian concepts of degeneration and crime by painting the criminal Hyde’s setting as opposite to Jekyll’s, but at the end suggests that they both exist within each other.
Stevenson represents conventional English ideals, by highlighting Dr. Jekyll as a reputable, charitable doctor. He is a well respected, wealthy person, who lives in a fancy house, in the new town of London. Mr. Utterson calls one of the rooms in Jekyll’s home the “Pleasantest room in London” (Stevenson 44). While most of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde takes place at night, the scenes involving Dr. Jekyll almost all portray a form of warmth and friendliness. This alludes to Victorian conceptions regarding the upper-class, who were viewed as completely separate and above those in the lower-class. Many claimed that rich “white British males such as [Jekyll were] at the pinnacle of an evolutionary hierarchy” (Danahay 18). Stevenson emphasizes the good sides of Dr. Jekyll, to confirm Victorian concepts of the bourgeoisie class. The upscale location and lifestyle Dr. Jekyll is associated with in the book represents how Jekyll strives to appear to others.
Stevenson depicts Victorian crime stereotypes, by illustrating Hyde as an animal like creature, who dwells in impoverished, rundown areas of London. Hyde, who is all of Dr. Jekyll’s evil, personified into a single entity, has done many horrible things. He trampled a young girl, and murdered a man, without feeling any remorse. Edward Hyde’s character parallels the setting he was placed in. In the novel,
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