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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Introduction

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Charlee Bassillo

on 30 August 2015

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Transcript of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Introduction

Setting of Jekyll & Hyde
.. and that doesn't mean pierced, dyed and dressed in black.
It deals with the relation of the baser parts of a man to his nobler-of capacity for evil that exists in the most generous natures, and it expresses these things in a fable which is a wonderfully happy invention.
- Henry James, American Novelist
The Victorian Era (1837 - 1901)
The "Goths"
Doppelganger
: the idea of the "split personality" or "alter ego" of a person
Very popular in Victorian culture
Also seen in:
Frankenstein
(Mary Shelley)
Wuthering Heights
(Emily Bronte)
Sigmund Freud
said there were 3 parts of a person's psychology:
Id
: unconscious/impulsive (child-like)
Ego
: conscious part (adult)
Superego
: ethical/moral (from society)
The "Goths" = a Germanic tribal culture.
Originally, Gothic meant anything "of, relating to, or resembling the Goths, their civilization or language"
- UC Davis
.
Later came to refer to:
Art
Architecture
Novels
Paintings
Music
At one point it meant "uncouth" or "medieval"
Gothic Genre
Robert Louis Stevenson
Victorian Era
Robert Louis Stevenson
Author & Historical Context
Took shape in England from 1790 - 1830.
The Gothic Novel
1850 - Born in Edinburgh, Scotland
Son of a civil engineer
Studied law & literature at Edinburgh University
In his 20s, became very sick with a respiratory issue that would affect him for his entire life
It was then that he decided to be a writer.

1879 - Travels to California to marry Fanny Osborne, an American 10 years his elder
This trip almost killed him!
Settled in Samoa because of the climate
Died there in 1894
Categorized as Romantic literature.
Incorporated horror and romantic qualities.
Acts as a reaction against rigidity and formality of other Romantic forms.
Not limited to this time period
Takes roots in the Middle Ages
Still written by authors like Stephen King.
During this period, many of the highly regarded pieces were written.
This helped to define the novel's form
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
The Strange Case of
London in the 1880's
.
Jekyll's home

refined house
formerly grand neighborhood
now in decay
Lanyon's home
comfortable home
Cavendish Square = area of pronounced doctors & lawyers
Hyde's house
in Soho (a low-class part of London known for immigrants)
Began as an essayist and travel writer
Published
Treasure Island
(1883)
gave him a place as a fiction writer
It was
Jekyll & Hyde
that made his reputation.
J&H
Facts
Stevenson wanted to pronounce Jekyll as "GEE-kull," which would have been natural in Scottish.
The masses preferred the current pronunciation.
On Stevenson's Inspiration for
J&H
:
Nightmare-inspired and written in only 6 days.
Modeled on the case of a respectable Edinburgh businessman who was a gambler, adulterer, armed robber and murderer by night.
Novella
Jekyll and Hyde
is considered a novella.

A
novella
is shorter and simpler than a novel, but is still longer and more complex than a short story.
Stevenson Trivia
Historians discovered his life-long illness to have been tuberculosis.
Could have been the rightful inventor of the sleeping bag!
He brought a large, fleece-lined sleeping sack with him on his travels through France.
Described in his book,
Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes
.
Maximum Invaded Territories
Ruled by Theodoric the Great (523 A.D.)
Gothic Setting
Setting is greatly influential
Evokes atmosphere of horror and dread
Portrays deterioration of the world
Decay and ruined scenery
Shell of once-thriving and treasured placed
Example: Castles, abbeys, respected homes
Often very dark and mysterious
Frankenstein's castle
Beauty and the Beast
Characteristics of Gothic Literature
Terror (psychological and physical)
Mystery
The supernatural
Ghosts/Haunted houses
Castles
Darkness
Death/decay
Madness
Secrets
Doubles
Hereditary curses
Archetypes of Gothic Literature
The Gothic (or "Byronic") Hero
:
Protagonist who is usually isolated (voluntarily or involuntarily)
Obsessive in their individual quest for self-realization
Burdened by a secret guilt or sorrow
Strong, yet sensitive
Wise beyond their years
Often hard-headed, mocking and/or proud

The Villain
:
Epitome of evil due to:
His own fall from grace
Implicit malevolence
Other Gothic Stock Characters:
Wanderer
Ghosts
Maniacs
Bandits
Maidens
Madwomen
Femme fatale
Magicians
Vampires
Werewolves
Perambulating skeletons
Devil
By 1880, there were 4.5 million people living in London.
Victoria rules in England for 64 years!
Britain is:
ruling a vast empire
world's leading economic and military power
Changes included:
railroads, postal system
medical/sanitary advances
government-supported schools
growing industry
cities became populated
A Class Divided
All of these
changes
upset many Britons:
Poverty is a growing problem
Cities are becoming more crowded
Women entering the workforce

Victorian society was divided
Still, all were expected to behave
virtuously
Especially
upper-class Victorians:
Houses should be pristine
They should be proper and elegant

Calvin vs. Darwin
Novella Setting
Personality and the Doppelganger
Interpreting the "split personality" and "alter ego"
In very broad terms,
Calvinism
stresses the sovereignty or rule of God in all things (not only in salvation, but in life).
Stevenson's parents were Calvinists and he railed against the idea.

Darwinism
posed the idea of evolution and the concept of "only the strong survive."

People struggled with the two at-odds theories.
So what?
The
rigid moral expectations
of society led many upper-class Londoners to
lead double lives
.

Victorians became interested in the issue of
private self vs. public self
.

For
Victorians
:
What could
Hyde
have represented?
How might they identify with
Jekyll
?
Born Evil
Stevenson's moral upbringing:
Thomas Hobbes:
Humans are naturally bad
Original sin
People struggle towards good

Interpretation #1:
Enlightenment view:
Tabula Rasa
= people as "blank slates"
Society shapes a person into good or bad
Interpretation #2:
Society Makes Us Evil
Freud believed that humans are strongly influenced by impulses that they are not aware of.
What do you think?
Are good and evil innate qualities?
OR
Is it society that makes us who we are?
Consider:
Are people basically good
or
bad?
Can "good" people do "bad" things?
Is everyone capable of doing horrible things?
What exactly constitutes "good" and "bad?
Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look around me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound life of duplicity." - Henry Jekyll
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