Individualism In Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

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Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is often read as a Victorian Gothic tale that explores the good and evil aspects of the individual. For starters, the novel follows the elements of the traditional gothic setting with its pervading shadowy darkness. More importantly than that, the work is successful at stirring up feelings of terror in the Victorian reader due to its responsive nature to the discussions of the period that were initiated by evolutionist theorists, such as Darwin and his On the Origin of Species. Because of these theorists, Victorian’s increased awareness of the “human animal” became culturally assimilated. This enabled a wide range of discussion for the late Victorians. Stevenson’s novel acted …show more content…
Although Hyde is a part of Dr. Jekyll, he is viewed with a mark of alterity. This to say that he serves as an uncanny double that simultaneously is and is not Jekyll’s human other. Hyde is so terrifying because he is, equally separated from and tied together with Jekyll. Stevenson's depiction of the respectable gentleman Dr. Jekyll as being capable of the terrible behaviour exhibited by Mr. Hyde is evidence of his manipulation of Victorian anxieties and social fears. Following this, it is pertinent that Stevenson’s Jekyll transforms into an ape-like creature and not, for instance, a dog. Hyde is the “animal within” (for Darwin, the ape within) whose actions are like those of a wild animal in that they are not subject to human laws of Victorian London, or any human laws for that matter; he is an undomesticated animal that exists within his civilized human form, Jekyll. Hyde may be thought of as the untamed wilderness within city boundaries. Bearing that concept in mind, he is too close to home for Victorian readers. They feared the concept of facing the wilderness, and so the animal, within themselves. This fear is what Stevenson successfully engaged