The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Robert Louis Stevenson

The Victorian era is arguably one of the most important in Western history. England, at this point in time, was the most powerful nation on earth, setting averages weights, measures, trade and industrial development (Besserman, accessed 20 May 2012, pp. 1). The term ‘Victorian’ came to be known as mark of expansion and ingenuity but also as a time of poverty and class divide. A strict and patriarchal moral code was in place that saw rules and codes created to keep women, and men, within their perspective places. Women were expected to marry, raise proper English children and sequester themselves within the home. Men were, of course, the providers and were required to marry respectable women whilst holding down a respectable job. There’s was a nation of confidence and security (Jamieson, 2009, pp. 72). Gender roles were strict and kept, at least on the surface, in their proper places. Men were courageous, stout and daring, and were expected to maintain this role. With all the hype of nation building came the stories of England’s seedy underbelly. News stories of child labour, prostitution and homosexual brothels bled into greater upheaval during and after the Jack the Ripper murders in London’s Whitechapel region (ibid, pp. 74). Darwin’s theory of evolution caused moral chaos and women were beginning to take a stand against their male persecutors. The ‘degenerist’ contamination of England was seen as a result of the influx of foreigners and resulted in a blow to English masculinity (Besserman, pp. 2). As Elaine Showalter (1990, pp. 8) states, “the nineteenth century had a cherished belief in the separate spheres of femininity and masculinity that amounted almost to religious faith.” This was a period in which the perceived ‘denigration’ of society was prevalent within the English psyche. It was the perceived effeminate nature of masculinity portrayed in books and the media that helped lead to...
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