illustration of a face with two separate halves, one good and one evil, located above the fumes of a potion

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Start Free Trial

Student Question

Can you help me compare and contrast Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

To compare and contrast Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Oscar Wilde`s The Picture of Dorian Gray, you might want to select a single theme for comparison. One theme is to set both of these stories within the historical context of the emerging discipline of psychology. One of the major discoveries of psychologist was the notion that inside us all are unconscious desires that impel us to act in ways our conscious minds might consider wrong. Both Mr. Hyde and the portrait are examples of how novelists tried to make visible that inner self or id. Where the Romantics considered the inner untutored self innocent and naturally good and civilization corrupting, both Wilde and Stevenson seem to portray the natural human being as evil or at least thoughtlessly cruel, and civilization a necessary restraint upon our naturally evil impulses. It is important in this context to understand as well that Stevenson was a Calvinist and Wilde converted to Roman Catholicism, and thus the id becomes associated in them with original sin.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial