Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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The Victorian Era (1837 – 1901) marked a period of great transition in many aspects of human life. It was an age that was characterized by rapid change and development in nearly every sphere – from advances in medial, scientific, and technological knowledge to changes in population growth, location, and religion. Over time, this rapid transformation deeply affected the country’s mood; an age that began with a confidence and optimism leading to economic growth and prosperity eventually gave way to uncertainty and doubt regarding Britain’s place in the world.

Much of the social and economic changes in the Victorian Era influenced the literature of the time, and Victorian literature formed the link between the writers of the Romantic period and the very different literature of the 20th Century. Robert Louis Stevenson and Oscar Wilde were among many of the significant Victorian novelists and poets. The Victorian era was an important time for the development of science and the Victorians had a mission to describe and classify the entire natural world. While writers such as Charles Darwin strived to understand the philosophy of life and origin of humans, writers such as Stevenson and Wilde were pioneers of the mysterious fantastic literature that emerged in this age which dealt primarily with the supernatural.

The themes explored in ““Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” are inextricably linked with the uncertainty and doubt that plagued the latter period of the Victorian Era. In particular, the notion that there are dual sides to human nature apparent in both novels addresses the original, more authentic nature of man that has been repressed but not destroyed by the accumulated weight of civilization, conscience, and societal norms. This consequence of the huge advances in every respect of English society in the Victorian era is dramatically enlarged in Steven’s Jekyll-Hyde character, where Jekyll is a renowned doctor and Hyde is a complete monster, and symbolically...
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