What does Stevenson have to say about the nature of society in late-Victorian England in the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What a great question! 

The Victorian and Puritan Eras have much in common.  They want to appear one way, but often the opposite behavior is found and the ugly side of human nature is lurking around the corner.

With the Victorians, the prudish attitude toward sex and women as an ornament on the arms of men is harshly compared with the lurid sections of London where brothels, opium dens, and gaming facilities were commonplace.

Stevenson is very likely acting as social critic shining a very bright light on the duality of men's personality during this time. They would show one acceptable and desirable face and mode of behavior during the daylight hours for all to see and one dark,  undesirable and loathsome face and mode of behavior at night.

parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In response to the first answer, it is interesting to consider how Stevenson suffered personally from this dual code of morality. He was so criticized for marrying a woman who was divorced and older than himself that he left with her and her children and sailed to Samoa. There he lived in a idyllic 'oasis' far from the critical brow of his Presbyterian father, who mirrored social disapproval at the time of remarriage and such recomposed famililes.

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