The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is said to be a novel of its time, meaning it reflects the values & issues of the time in which it was written. Is this true or false?Explain your...

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is said to be a novel of its time, meaning it reflects the values & issues of the time in which it was written. Is this true or false?

Explain your position with at least two examples from the story.

1 Answer | Add Yours

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) shows the influence of two American writers, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) and Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) in his best-known story, “The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Hawthorne dramatized the existence of evil in man in stories such as “Young Goodman Brown,” “The Minister’s Black Veil,” and “My Kinsman, Major Molineux,” as well as in his novels, most notably The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Poe revealed the evil side of man in “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” and other short stories. In “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Stevenson seems to be acknowledging the existence of an evil side of human nature but speculating on the possibility of eradicating it. Stevenson is more like Hawthorne than like Poe. Hawthorne usually illustrated the fact that most people try to keep their evil side hidden, whereas Poe wrote in such a way that the  good side, if any, was what was hidden. Hawthorne tended to write in the third person, making it much easier to present his characters from the exterior, from the appearance they made in public. Poe tended to write in the first person, putting the reader right inside the mind of the character who was favoring the evil side of his nature. There is a lot more evil in human nature than Stevenson, Hawthorne, or Poe ever dared to unveil, but many sins, crimes, perversions, and sadistic actions simply could not be mentioned in those straitlaced times. Hyde's murders may only be acceptable substitutes for other crimes, while his trampling of a little girl may be only a suggestion of sex crimes he has committed with underage girls.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,928 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question