British Literature II
Best of Both Worlds Everyone and everything in the world undergo changes. Such changes may be good and bad, or old and new. Regardless, there are two sides to all things. Since both stories take place in the Victorian era, the themes and ideas within each go against certain views of morals or codes of conduct that existed in that time period. The general public may argue that because these values are not typical in Victorian society, they are influential in persons of past and future generations. Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine stand the test of time for clearly expressing the existence in dualities, and it is because of these transformations of life that these books captivate audiences today.
Stevenson’s story remains celebrated today because of its depiction of human nature and its divisions. For example, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde depict the duality of man being both good and evil. While Jekyll is the example of a man in a world where morals and order are strongly valued, he is driven by feelings of entrapment or moral constraints, and changes into Hyde. Hyde is the individual that lives in chaos or with no moral conscience. He is Jekyll’s fantasy or version of freedom that is kept away from the world. By repressing a particular side to himself, Jekyll’s dark side, Hyde, has a smaller figure because he is less developed. This repression leads to unbalanced dualities that can further lead to one personality overpowering the other. An article about schizophrenia by the National Institute of Mental Health states, “People with the disorder may hear voices other people don't hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated. ” (NIH). Furthermore, in the text Dr. Jekyll says, “[He] learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man…If [he] could rightly be said to be either, it was only because [he] was radically both.” In other words, Stevenson is trying to show humans’ dark impulses.
People wonder why humans change or are the way they are. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also raises this question, and that is what keeps society so intrigued by this literary work. For example, many people identify or try to figure themselves and others out by experimenting with different social groups. Robert Stevenson portrays a similar experimentation in his novella through Dr. Jekyll. This character self-experiments in order to try and separate the dualities of man that he knows are harmful. As morally conscience humans, people also try to separate themselves from bad habits they have. For these reasons, Stevenson’s portrayal of human personalities fascinates many generations of individuals.
Wells’ The Time Machine, is still well-known because of its depiction of two worlds very different from each other. For instance, the Eloi and Morlock characters of this story live very differently. The Eloi people live in a peaceful world of thoughtless leisure, while the Morlock people live in a dystopian world underground. Wells uses the Eloi to express the descendants of humans that lack competition, and the Morlock to express the working class. H.G. Wells does this to illustrate society’s future. In some way, this contrast between worlds is looked at by all people whether they are comparing the past with the future, or the civilized with the uncivilized. Much like today’s society, Wells’ The Time Machine is set during the Victorian empire in which science and technology overshadowed everything else. Wells states, “I saw huge buildings rise up faint and fair,…