Topics: Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Novella Pages: 6 (2236 words) Published: May 1, 2013
Jeanne Reeser|
English 104|
Professor Kathleen McAlister|


Course: English 104
Professor: Kathleen McKalister
Student: Jeanne Reeser
Assignment: Formal Essay

In many late-Victorian English writers’ works, there appears this reoccurring theme of a “double” or “split personality” residing in one character. The “double” or “split personality” usually coincided with a specific historical event or social attitude during the time that the novel was written. The theme of the double in the novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as in the contemporary film the Fight Club, represents certain historical events/social attitudes. In the following the theme of the double of Self-restraint (west/colonizer) versus Self-indulgence/Decadence (East/Colonized) is presented in the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, while the theme of the double of Capitalism (Representing Materialism) versus Socialism is presented in the film Fight Club and finally how this novel and this film differ as well as share similarities in the representation of the theme of the “double” or “split personality” in these three areas: the double is represented by a male, Fight Clubs duality differs in that it represent a historical ideology, and which were produced during two very different times. In the novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the theme of the double that is present is Self-restraint versus Self-indulgence embodied in the person Dr. Jekyll. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote/published the novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, around the year 1886 or during the Late Victorian era. During this era the society is dominated by this idea of self-restraint, self-restraint was seen as the mode in which one could have a successful life in the Victorian Era. Certain things such as drinking gin, going to the theater, etc. were seen as “evil” or acts of Self-indulgence in the Victorian Era and one must restrain himself/herself from these things. On the first page of the novel the word “undemonstrative” appears when describing Mr. Utterson the lawyer; this word is the essence of the Victorian culture. Everyone was very undemonstrative and polite in social interactions. Another good representation of the social attitude of the Victorian Era/period is a quote describing Queen Victoria (taken from an article in English class), “A powerful iconic image of queen Victoria features her covered from neck to toe in a heavy, but lacey and “feminine” gown that conceals all of the features of her body, her face is averted and expressionless.” Stevenson’s life was somewhat of a paradox and deemed social unacceptable by many, tension arises in Stevenson life because of his parents expectations coupled with societal expectations of him and what he ultimately pursued throughout his life. According to Marget Livesey in her article, “The reason Stevenson’s is preoccupied with duality can be seen in even a brief examination of his life.” (2) This reoccurring theme of duality or the double in many of Stevenson’s works is born out of this tension. In the novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the man Dr. Jekyll is split into two men, one representing self-restraint, the other by the name of Mr. Hyde represents self-indulgence. The novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde doesn’t challenge a prevailing ideology of the time but rather presents two sides of a prevalent social attitude toward proper male character. According to Cohen, “…political and economic assumption that (male) “character” unproblematically represents the embodied attributes of a male person and a gender ideology that qualifies masculinity as proper male character.”(Cohen 2) Cohen states that there are certain “class-defined, nationally inflected gender attributes” that if men possessed in that society were considered, ““real” (a.k.a bourgeois English) men”. These “class-defined, nationally inflected gender attributes”, could all be boxed in a container called and labeled Self-restraint. The first...
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