The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a complex and interesting work that addresses the dilemmas posed by advanced scientific technology. It does not have a simple, singular, moral message, but rather makes its readers think through the problems of morality in a society which was simultaneously becoming less religious and experiencing rapid technological change.
The first moral issue the reader encounters is that of whether scientific advances that offer easy ways to change our natures are fundamentally problematic. Dr. Jekyll is essentially trying to make himself a better person by use of drugs rather than self-discipline and moral effort. This shortcut does not turn out well and is prescient in the way it anticipates the issues people now face with the developments of many psychoactive drugs and genetic modification. Essentially, it suggests that taking shortcuts without considering consequences can result in morally bad outcomes.
Next, the character of...
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