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The Victorian Age

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Title: The Victorian Age


1
The Victorian Age
  • The Victorian era, spanning from 18301901, was a
    period of dramatic change the world over, and
    especially in England, with the rapid extension
    of colonialism through large portions of Africa,
    Asia, and the West Indies, making England a
    pre-eminent centre of world power and relocating
    the perceived centre of Western Civilization from
    Paris to London.

2
  • The Victorian early period (183048) can be
    described as a time of dramatic change, with the
    improvement of the railroads and the country's
    first Reform Parliament, but it was also a time
    of economic distress.

3
  • Although the mid-Victorian period (184870) was
    not free of the previous period's problems, it
    was a time of overall prosperity and general
    social satisfaction with further growth of the
    empire improving trade and economic conditions.

4
  • The later period (18701901) was a time of
    changing attitudes about colonialism,
    industrialization, and the possibility of making
    scientific advancements.

5
  • The conditions of publishing, including the
    prominence of the periodical press, dramatically
    shaped the form and production of literature in
    the Victorian era.

6
  • We are interested in the era of 1870-1901
  • There is an attitude of change
  • Colonialism
  • Industrialization
  • Scientific advancements

7
The later period (18701901) was a time of
changing attitudes about colonialism,
industrialization, and scientific advancement. 
  • Rebellions and war in the colonial territories
    made the public increasingly more aware of the
    costs of empire.
  • Various events challenged the sense of England's
    endless prosperity as a world power, such as the
    emergence of Bismarck's Germany and its threats
    to English naval and military positions and the
    expansion of the American grain industry, driving
    down the price of English grain.
  • Socialist movements grew out of this
    discontentment, as well as a melancholy spirit in
    the writing of the end of the century. Oscar
    Wilde's making a pun of "earnest," a typical and
    sincerely used mid-Victorian word, is typical of
    a dying Victorianism.

8
  • In addition to social and economic changes,
    dramatically affecting the content of literature
    during the Victorian era, other technological
    changes in publishing shaped literary production
    in other ways. 
  • The conditions of publishing, including the
    prominence of the periodical press, dramatically
    shaped the form of literature. 
  • Serialization of novels, for example, allowed for
    an author to alter the shape of his narrative
    based on public response to earlier instalments.

9
  • In the later years of the era, authors started to
    position themselves in opposition to this broad
    reading public and serialization gave way to
    three-volume editions.
  • The Victorian novel was primarily concerned with
    representing a social reality and the way a
    protagonist sought and defined a place within
    this reality.
  • The increased popularity of periodicals also
    allowed non-fiction to become a widespread and
    popular literary genre.

10
  • Victorian poetry was also published in
    periodicals and underwent its own dramatic
    changes during the era, with Victorian poets
    seeking to represent psychology in new ways.
  • Theatre, on the other hand, was a popular form of
    entertainment, but did not flourish aesthetically
    until the end of the Victorian era.

11
  • There was a rich connection in the Victorian
    period between visual art and literature.
  • Much Victorian aesthetic theory makes the eye the
    most authoritative sense and the clearest
    indicator of truth.
  • Victorian poetry and the Victorian novel both
    value visual description as a way of portraying
    their subjects.
  • This emphasis on the visual creates a
    particularly close connection between poetry and
    painting. Books of fiction and poetry were
    illustrated, and the illustrations amplified and
    intensified the effects of the text.
  • The texts, engravings, and paintings provide an
    insight into the connection between the verbal
    and the visual so central to Victorian
    aesthetics.

12
  • "All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who
    go beneath the surface do so at their own peril.
    Those who read the symbol do so at their own
    peril."--by Oscar Wilde, Preface, "The Picture of
    Dorian Gray"

13
Very brief synopsis of Dorian Gray
  • The novel opens with Henry Wotton and his friend,
    Basil Hallward. The pair are admiring a painting
    recently of a young man of extraordinary
    personal beauty. (Wilde, 1992, pg.5) The young
    man in question is Dorian Gray.
  • One evening, Dorian realises that his beauty will
    soon wither and fade, and makes a deal with the
    devil to retain his youth If it were only the
    other way! If it were I who was to be always
    young, and the picture that was to grow
    old!(Wilde, 1992, pg.24)
  • Dorian and Sybil
  • Dorian meets a young actress, Sybil Vane and
    spends his evenings watching her perform at a
    local theatre. He woos her for a short time and
    soon proposes marriage, which she accepts.
    Sybils brother James vows that if this man
    wrongs my sister, I will find out who he is,
    track him down and kill him like a dog. (Wilde,
    1992, pg.58)
  • The next evening Dorian, Basil and Henry go to
    watch Sybil perform, but her acting is appalling.
    After the performance Dorian breaks off his
    engagement to Sybil, declaring that he cannot
    ever love her. Upon returning home Dorian
    realises that the facial expression of his
    portrait has altered to reflect his cruel
    treatment of Sybil.

14
  • Dorian decides that the proper thing to do is to
    go back to Sybil and reaffirm his love for her
    however, the next day Dorian hears the news that
    the young actress has killed herself in the
    night.
  • The Altered Portrait
  • After this incident and over the following years
    Dorian leads a life of debauchery the portrait
    alters each time a sin is committed. Dorians
    debauchery is heavily influenced by an unnamed
    book given to him as a gift by Henry.
  • Many years later Basil goes to visit Dorian with
    the intention of confronting him about the sinful
    life he has been living. Dorian does not deny the
    things he has done and takes Basil to see the
    portrait that has always remained hidden.
  • Murder
  • On seeing the altered portrait, Basil begs Dorian
    to repent his sins. Dorian, in a fit of madness
    and resentment stabs Basil to death. He seeks out
    Alan Campbell, an acquaintance, and blackmails
    him into destroying Basils corpse.
  • Following this incident, James Vane inadvertently
    catches Dorian leaving an Opium den but releases
    him, believing him too young to have been the man
    involved with his deceased sister. A passing
    woman reveals to James that he is indeed the man
    in question. The following week, Dorian spots
    James on the grounds but the next day James is
    accidentally killed while Dorian and his friends
    are out hunting.

15
  • Dorians Final Act
  • Dorian finally realises the error of his ways and
    reaffirms his desire to be good, hoping that the
    portrait will change to reflect his new life.
    When he inspects the painting he finds that there
    is no real change except that the painting has a
    look of cunning, and in the mouth the curved
    wrinkle of the hypocrite. (Wilde, 1992, pg.176)
  • In a fit of rage, Dorian seizes the knife he used
    to kill Basil and stabs the portrait with it. His
    servants hear a scream and call for the police.
    When they arrive they find the portrait as it
    originally was and a corpse aged horribly and
    unidentifiable it was only when they examined
    the rings that they recognised who it was.
    (Wilde, 1992, pg.177)
  • References
  • Wilde, O., 1992, The Picture of Dorian
    Gray, Hertfordshire Wordsworth Editions Limited

16
Whats it all about?
  • Homoerotic love?
  • Homoerotic love is an underlying theme of the
    novel, although it is never stated directly. Both
    Lord Henry and Basil Hallward are deeply
    attracted to Dorian Gray on account of his great
    physical beauty. Basil insists that his love for
    Dorian is "noble and intellectual," and there is
    no reason to doubt him. But he also speaks about
    Dorian in terms that a man would normally speak
    about a lover and about falling in love. "I
    worshipped you," he says to Dorian. "I grew
    jealous of every one to whom you spoke. I wanted
    to have you all to myself. I was only happy when
    I was with you" (chapter 9). Basil sublimates any
    erotic dimension to his feelings about Dorian by
    pouring them into his art.

17
  • Lord Henry prefers the company of Dorian to that
    of his wife, and he consistently expresses
    misogynist views. He worships youthful male
    beauty as embodied in Dorian, and he encourages
    Dorian to give full rein all his secret desires.
    When he says the following to Dorian, he may well
    be suggesting that Dorian has a previously
    unacknowledged sexual attraction to men "You
    have had passions that have made you afraid,
    thoughts that have filled you with terror,
    day-dreams and sleeping dreams whose mere memory
    might stain your cheek with shame-" The language
    here, and the use of the word "shame," suggests
    that Dorian's "sins," although they are never
    explicitly described, may be of a sexual nature.
    One has to remember that in the Victorian age,
    attitudes to homosexuality are very different
    from what they are today.

18
Art vs. Life
  • The novel presents a contrast between art and
    life. Art possesses beauty and form it is
    contrasted with the ugliness and shapelessness of
    real life. Lord Henry encourages Dorian to treat
    his own life as if it were a work of art. He must
    experience it fully, as one would a piece of art,
    but at the same time remain detached from it, in
    the way that one might appreciate a great
    painting or a play. This involves a paradox he
    must be at once involved and uninvolved, fully
    participating, not drawing back from anything,
    but always remaining a spectator. Such is Lord
    Henry's notion. He is depicted as being a
    connoisseur of all the arts and surrounds himself
    with objects of beauty. He maintains the
    essential detachment that enables him, or at
    least he claims it does, to avoid the pain of the
    world. It also means that he does not adopt moral
    positions on anything, since that would mean
    taking life more seriously than art. For Lord
    Henry, the purpose of life is not to exhibit
    one's moral prejudices but to contemplate beauty.

19
  • The contrast between art and life can be seen in
    the chapters that describe Dorian's walk to the
    theater where Sibyl Vane performs and on his ride
    to the opium den. In both instances, the
    sordidness of these parts of London is described.
    Dorian feels this keenly, and he takes refuge in
    the art that Sibyl creates. Her value to him is
    that she enables him to live out Henry's creed.
    When she ceases to show an interest in art,
    Dorian ceases to be interested in her. On the
    ride to the opium den, Dorian's position has
    changed. He now embraces the ugliness of life. He
    has forgotten the creed that Henry taught him. He
    has exchanged art for life-and that itself is a
    sin, in Oscar Wilde's credo.

20
  • Sensual GratificationLord Henry's philosophy of
    life, which is adopted by Dorian, is that the
    senses should be indulged to the full. In the
    fleeting sense experience lies the intensity of
    life, and all life is simply a series of these
    intense moments. This is not intended as a
    mindless indulgence for the sake of it, but is a
    conscious quest for beauty.

21
  • Dorian thus learns to cultivate all kinds of
    sense experience, passions and sensations in the
    pursuit of beauty. He studies exotic perfumes, he
    collects musical instruments and precious stones.
    He once went to a costume ball wearing an outfit
    covered with 560 pearls. Neither Henry nor Dorian
    believe in any restrictions on desire, because
    desire is life itself, whereas self-denial in the
    name of morality is exactly that-a denial of
    life. Henry's belief is that self-development,
    not self-restraint, is the purpose of life. He
    describes this philosophy as a new Hedonism. It
    is a refined understanding and appreciation of
    life that amounts to a form of spirituality.

22
  • And so Henry's friend and disciple Dorian
    believes that in indulging the senses he is
    freeing them to be what are intended to be, a
    channel for the experience of beauty. In chapter
    11, he states his belief that the senses have
    never been properly understood before "they had
    remained savage and animal merely because the
    world had sought to starve them into submission
    or to kill them by pain, instead of aiming at
    making them elements of a new spirituality, of
    which a fine instinct for beauty was to be the
    dominant characteristic"

23
  • 1. There is no such thing as a moral or an
    immoral book. Books are well written, or badly
    written. (Preface)
  • 2. There is only one thing in the world worse
    than being talked about, and that is not being
    talked about." (Ch. 1, Lord Henry, to Basil.)
  • 3. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of
    his enemies. (Ch. 1, Lord Henry)
  • 4. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to
    yield to it. (Ch. 2, Lord Henry)
  • 5. "To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is
    only shallow people who do not judge by
    appearances." (Ch. 2, Lord Henry)

24
  • 6. "I can sympathize with everything, except
    suffering." (Ch. 3, Lord Henry at the lunch at
    Aunt Agatha's.)
  • 7. "Men marry because they are tired women,
    because they are curious both are disappointed."
    (Ch. 4, Lord Henry explains why he advises Dorian
    never to marry.)
  • 8. "A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect
    pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one
    unsatisfied. What more can one want? (Ch. 6, Lord
    Henry.)
  • 9. "It is better to be beautiful than to be good.
    But . . . it is better to be good than to be
    ugly." (Ch. 17, Lord Henry to the Duchess of
    Monmouth.)
  • 10. "To get back my youth I would do anything in
    the world, except take exercise, get up early, or
    be respectable." (Ch. 19, Lord Henry to Dorian.)

25
. What are the mythic elements in the novel? 
  • There are allusions to two myths first, the
    story in the book of Genesis about the garden of
    Eden, the temptation of Eve by the serpent, and
    the fall of man and second, to the Faust legend.
  • The second chapter of the novel strongly suggests
    a temptation scene. It takes place in a garden.
    Basil Hallward, the painter, is like God the
    creator he has just created the picture of
    Dorian in all his perfection.

26
  • The tempter is Lord Henry, who wants to persuade
    Dorian to ignore all the conventional rules of
    society, just as the serpent wants Eve to
    disregard the commandments from God. Dorian is
    like the first man, Adam, innocent in his
    perfection, who is being told by the serpent
    to taste of the forbidden fruit of sensual
    experience. At various crises in Dorian's life,
    Henry retains the role of the tempter. He is at
    Dorian's side encouraging him to adopt an
    attitude toward life that will cost him dear in
    the long run. For example, when Dorian and Henry
    discuss the death of Sibyl, Henry encourages him
    to view it from a detached point of view, like an
    episode in a play. This means that Dorian never
    develops the moral sense necessary to balance his
    love of sensual experience. He "falls" and his
    soul is blackened.

27
  • In the Faust legend, Faust sells his soul to the
    devil in order to gain knowledge and power.
    Dorian is a Faustian figure because he wants to
    obtain eternal youth, something that under normal
    circumstances no human being can obtain. He
    enters into a Faustian bargain when he prays that
    he might be able to remain forever young while
    the process of aging is confined to the picture.
    When the woman at the opium den says that "Prince
    Charming" sold himself to the devil for a pretty
    face, she is unconsciously referring to the Faust
    myth.

28
2. Wilde was condemned by his critics for writing
an "immoral" book he claimed it was a very moral
work. What justification is there for either
view? 
  • On publication, The Picture of Dorian Gray met
    with a storm of hostile reviews which condemned
    the book for its alleged immorality. The tone of
    the reviews was often virulent. The critic for
    the Daily Chronicle wrote, "It is a tale spawned
    from the leprous literature of the French Decadent
    s-a poisonous book, the atmosphere of which is
    heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and
    spiritual putrefaction." Others suggested that
    the authorities should consider prosecuting Wilde
    for the content of the book. Wilde replied, in
    letters to literary magazines, that the novel had
    a moral message that "all excess, as well as all
    renunciation, brings its own punishment." He
    points out that Dorian, "having led a life of
    mere sensation and pleasure, tries to kill
    conscience, and at that moment kills himself."
    Wilde also claimed that Basil worshiped physical
    beauty too much and instilled vanity into Dorian,
    and that Henry suffered because he sought merely
    to be a spectator of life.

29
  • Wilde is correct in the sense that Dorian does
    meet a bad end, and one could find passages where
    he is explicitly condemned, such as when he
    leaves the opium den, "Callous, concentrated on
    evil, with stained mind and soul hungry for
    rebellion." But the novel is far from being a
    simple moral parable that sin meets with
    punishment. There is a discrepancy between the
    moral framework and the overall tone of the
    novel. Wilde takes such relish in the luxurious
    sensual descriptions of Dorian's life that it can
    sound as if he approves of it. His heart is more
    in the varieties of sensation that he gives to
    his protagonist than in his moral condemnation of
    him. There is perhaps a parallel here with
    Milton's Paradise Lost. Many readers feel that
    the hero of the epic is not Christ but Satan,
    because Milton seems to put so much more energy
    and life into his devil than in his God. The poet
    William Blake once famously said of Milton that
    he was "of the devil's party without knowing it."
    Perhaps it might be said that Wilde was of
    Dorian's party-and only succeeded in partially
    disguising the fact.

30
The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde brief
synopsis
  • Mr. Utterson is a London lawyer who is a friend
    of Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll gave up his regular
    practice to experiment with non-traditional
    medicine. Utterson is concerned because Jekyll
    has written a will that leaves all his money to
    his new partner Mr. Hyde. Utterson has heard bad
    things of Hyde and disliked him at first sight.
    The lawyer thinks his friend is being
    blackmailed.
  • One day, the lawyer is asked to identify the body
    of a murdered man, Sir Danvers Carew, one of
    Uttersons clients. Hyde is suspected of the
    murder, but he has disappeared. Jekyll swears
    that he has not seen Hyde and has broken with him
    forever. The case remains unsolved and Jekyll
    becomes more sociable than he had been.

31
  • Suddenly, though, he locks himself into his
    laboratory, yelling to the servants through the
    door, directing them to gather chemicals for him.
    The servants recognize a change in his voice and
    think that their master has been murdered
    another man has taken his place in the lab. They
    call Utterson who breaks down the door. On the
    floor lies Hyde, who has killed himself with
    poison. Sadly, Utterson assumes Hyde returned and
    killed Jekyll, but the doctors body is nowhere
    to be found.
  • He does find, however, a letter in which Jekyll
    explains his relationship to Hyde. Jekyll had
    sometimes indulged in debauches which, if
    discovered, could have ruined his reputation and
    of which he is ashamed. Pondering this split in
    his personality, he decides to find a way to
    separate his two beings. Jekyll creates a potion
    that releases his evil side, Mr. Hyde. Hyde is
    shorter and smaller than Jekyll, having not had
    as much exercise.

32
  • For a while Jekyll enjoys his two bodies he can
    do whatever he likes without fear of discovery.
    His pleasure is stunted when Hyde kills Carew in
    a nonsensical fit, and he resolves never to take
    the potion again. Hyde is now strong, however,
    and emerges whether Jekyll will have him or not.
    Indeed, Jekyll must use the potion to be rid of
    him if only for a moment. Jekyll knows that it is
    only by killing his body that Hydes body, too,
    will die.

33
Commentary
  • The story has a complex view of the relationship
    between body and mind. The mind and body are
    intricately linked. Indeed, the mind can make a
    body different. Thus, Hyde must have his own
    distinct body he does not merely "take over"
    Jekylls body. On the other hand, before the
    experiment, Hyde and Jekyll both live in one
    body. Or, perhaps they are not two minds, then,
    but two aspects of one mind. Stevenson does not
    try to resolve these complexities so much as make
    them available. His story is primarily a critique
    of non-rational science.

34
How Does Robert Louis Stevenson Challenge and
Criticise Victorian Ideals Through the Story of
Jekyll and Hyde?
  • http//bookstove.com/book-talk/how-does-robert-lou
    is-stevenson-challenge-and-criticise-victorian-ide
    als-through-the-story-of-jekyll-and-hyde/
  • The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was
    written in 1885 by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist
    andtravel writer who is best known for two of his
    novels, Treasure Island and the strange case of
    Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
  • The novella was published toward the end of the
    Victorian era, a period that was a time of change
    for England. It was the time of the industrial
    revolution and a lot of new technology came
    about, most people moved to the big cities and
    developed new lifestyles, and a lot of ideas in
    science also came about. During this period the
    lifestyles depended on personal wealth and
    status. Everyone was divided into social classes
    and communities. The society was very patriarchal
    but things were changing.

35
  • The Victorian society preferred not to
    acknowledge the rational and prized reputation
    and decorum above all. If something threatened to
    upset the social society they preferred to
    repress the truth and this led to a lot of the
    upper classes being blackmailed by lower classes
    because if the word got out that they had done
    wrong their reputation would be soiled and for
    this reason the lower classes made the upper
    classes pay them to keep quiet about bad things.
  • The Victorians often feared the Unknown, the
    Uncanny, a concept developed by Sigmund Freud
    where something can be familiar yet foreign at
    the same time leading to uneasiness, and also
    the Supernatural.
  • Jekyll and Hyde challenges several Victorian
    values by showing several of the flaws that were
    brushed under the carpet to make it seem as if
    nothing was wrong and to make it seem like
    everything was perfect. Jekyll and Hyde is
    written in the genre of gothic fiction, often
    called gothic horror, which is a literature genre
    that combines horror and romance. The genre is
    believed to have been created by Horace Warpole,
    an English author, in 1764 in the novel the
    castle of Otanto. The features in the novella
    that are gothic are the setting and the way its
    described, supernatural, doubles and death, and
    also the reaction to Victorian values, the way it
    exposes the fears of main society and the
    elements of detective fiction, e.g. if he be Mr
    Hyde, I shall be Mr Seek, which shows how they
    wish to find out about particular things in life.
    The features of romanticism are the way it
    asserts emotion and intuition over rationalism,
    strong examples of fear and a slight fascination
    with death.

36
  • Stevenson used the character of Jekyll to
    criticise and challenge Victorian values. He does
    this as Jekyll lives in a nice house, is quite
    wealthy, is well respected and has a good
    background. This reputation led to repression, a
    Freud theory which means the unconscious hiding
    of uncomfortable thoughts, of certain urges such
    as to do wrong and to be Hyde. His house is
    described as being in a square of ancient,
    handsome houses which shows that he is well off
    in life, Jekyll himself is described as well
    known. These things show that he is upper class
    and the contrast shown with his experimentations
    and creation of Hyde shows that not everyone is
    how they seem on the outside. His scientific
    experiments are done with a particular drug,
    whose name is not mentioned, and Jekyll is
    determined to find a way to unlock his second
    side, man is not truly one, but truly two. This
    shows how he was asserted that humans have a dual
    nature, this challenges Victorian ideals as they
    believed that dualism was a theory that was not
    possible and they believed it to be unacceptable,
    and it was this that led to his experimentations
    with a drug that he knew risked his life. When he
    first becomes Hyde he says that he felt younger,
    lighter, happier in body which shows how he
    initially enjoys being Hyde and that he feels
    better within himself, he also says later in this
    chapter that he was tasting delight from every
    blow which shows how he likes beating people and
    also reveals his guilty pleasures as it shows
    what, deep down, he really wants to do at times
    and he uses Hyde as an emotional outlet.

37
  • After Hyde murders Carew, Jekyll starts to hate
    Hyde and says it was the horror of being Hyde
    that racked me, which suggests torture, and also
    I, who sicken and freeze at the mere thought of
    him which shows his complete transformation from
    loving Hyde to hating Hyde and also shows how
    Hyde makes him feel sick. At first Jekyll feels
    no guilt about being Hyde and of the bad deeds he
    is doing which suggest he is quite shallow and
    also that he doesnt really think about his
    actions and what would come of them which show
    him to be quite hypocritical. Jekyll eventual
    complete transformation into Hyde suggests that
    eventually evil will prevail over good if society
    represses individuals. For this many Victorians
    would have seen Jekyll as mentally ill and would
    view him as an outcast and also a degenerate.
  • The novella shows the disintegration of Jekyll as
    it shows how he was very friendly and sociable
    and how he slowly changed to locking himself away
    and speaking to no-one, it is said that he would
    write his orders on a sheet of paper and throw
    it on the stair. This shows how he wanted no-one
    to see or hear him because of unexpected
    transformations into Hyde.

38
  • Hyde is described by several people throughout
    the novella and none have anything good to say
    about the way he looks. Enfield states there is
    something wrong with his appearance, something
    displeasing, something downright detestable
    which shows he is a very unpleasant looking man
    who doesnt have to do much to scare you. Jekyll
    says his every act and thought centred on self
    which shows selfishness. Throughout the novella
    quite a lot of animalistic expressions are used
    to describe Hyde, my devil had long been caged,
    and he came out roaring, and the word devil
    suggests that he is not very nice, the word
    caged is a comparison to animals which show how
    Hyde was locked away and the word roaring
    suggests anger and demonstrates his want to do
    evil. When Jekyll describes the murder of Carew
    in the last chapter he says that Hyde was
    tasting delight from every blow which once
    again shows his selfishness, it also shows how he
    gets pleasure and enjoyment from this act, it
    also challenges Victorian values as this would
    have been seen as outrageous.
  • Hydes house is described as being in a dismal
    quarter of Soho and is described as a district
    of some city in a nightmare which shows the bad
    aura the place gives and also suggests something
    of Hydes personality as it is dark and unknown
    and is quite an ugly place which represents the
    less respectable side of London which challenges
    Victorian values as they wanted everything to
    seem perfect.

39
  • Early in the novella Utterson thinks that Hyde is
    blackmailing Jekyll as Hyde seems to be lower
    class and it was quite common for lower class
    members blackmailing higher classes. Many people
    believe Hyde to be uncanny, a theory developed
    after the novella was originally published. Hyde
    has a tendency toward the repetition of criminal
    behaviour, also called recidivism, as first there
    is the trampling of the little girl and then the
    murder of Carew and this suggests that he may
    have a mental disorder. Victorian people believed
    strongly in the theory of physiognomy and when
    they read the description of Hyde they would have
    thought he was a criminal because of his
    demeanour as he represents the common criminal
    who has a disorder.
  • Stevensons description of London makes it sound
    like a dark, scary place and this was done as it
    challenges Victorian ideals as they wanted London
    to be seen as a nice respectable place. Stevenson
    also uses pathetic fallacy to emphasise the gloom
    and crime going on in London, such as Hydes
    crimes. The character of Hyde is used to show
    what was really happening in London and to imply
    that London wasnt as perfect as it seemed.
  • Early in the novella Utterson dreams of Hyde
    storming around London like a human juggernaut
    who just knocked people down and carried on
    walking. The fact that it is set in London
    suggests that London, like Hyde, has a deep,
    sinister inside and that once you looked past the
    appearance you found a dark, bad place. The
    description as they travel to Hydes house also
    suggests that Londons a bad place and the
    weather also mirrors the eeriness of the
    situation as it says that a great chocolate
    coloured pall lowered over heaven. A good
    example of London being described as a bad place
    is some city in a nightmare which makes it
    sound very scary and quite gloomy.

40
  • Stevenson seems to suggest that Hyde is a man
    free from the restraints of society. He proves
    this in the last chapter as Jekyll, who is Hyde,
    says I did not even exist which is how he shows
    how he was so confident as Hyde and this was why
    he didnt care what he did. He also says Jekyll
    was now my city of refuge which shows that after
    his crimes he could just take the drug, turn back
    to Jekyll and no-one would figure out that it was
    really him, it also shows a self confidence
    knowing he could do what he wanted and never be
    discovered. Jekyll frees himself through Hyde as
    the things he wishes to do he cannot do himself
    as it would ruin his reputation.
  • Lanyon represents the common Victorian who tries
    to blend into the background and keep secrets
    quiet to uphold the perfect world view. He seems
    to have a problem revealing the truth, never
    refer to this again which shows how he wishes to
    not speak about things that threaten the worldly
    view. Lanyon is, like Jekyll, a scientist, but
    believes in material science and because of this
    he says that Jekylls experiments are
    unscientific balderdash. This shows that he
    doesnt believe in what Jekyll does and that he
    thinks hes a bit psychotic. Later in the novella
    when he sees Hyde transform into Jekyll he has
    such a shock that he eventually dies. This is
    because it goes against everything he believes
    and has believed for most of his life. When he
    sees the transformation he reacts by screaming O
    god! repeatedly which shows his fear and shock.
    He also says I must die and this is because of
    what he saw with Hydes transformation into
    Jekyll.

41
  • He writes this into a letter which is to be
    opened when he and Dr Jekyll are both dead which
    again suggests his problem of revealing the truth
    if it threatens the perfect worldly view. This is
    common of Victorian times as they never told the
    truth when it threatened to upset the perfect
    worldly view. Stevenson may have chosen to
    finally reveal the secret of Jekyll and Hyde in
    Lanyons narrative as it shows it from a view
    where he can explain how everything happens. This
    would also shock the Victorian reader as its
    from a normal persons point of view.
  • Utterson represents the common upper class man
    who wishes to hide the truth if it threatens the
    conventional world view. If something without
    explanation that is shocking occurs he makes up a
    story that makes it sound reasonable, for example
    in the last night he says that Jekyll has been
    plainly seized with one of those maladies that
    both torture and deform the sufferer which shows
    how he tries to make a bad situation seem
    reasonable and to push the truth under the
    carpet. In the novella he is a key character as
    he is Jekylls lawyer, Carews lawyer, Enfield
    confides in him and Lanyon trusts in him
    immensely. I think Stevenson chose to show most
    of the story as Utterson because he is a well
    respected man who represents the common
    Victorian.

42
  • He prizes reputation above all and even when he
    suspects Jekyll of criminal behaviour he still
    tries to save his reputation, we may at least
    save his credit, he says this at the end of the
    novella when they discover the truth about Jekyll
    and although he has committed something
    outrageous he still wishes to save his
    reputation, this also shows how much he prizes
    reputation and that he wishes to save it no
    matter what. Another example is of Jekylls
    association with Hyde where he says if it came
    to a trial your name might appear which shows
    his concern for his friends reputation and how he
    wishes Jekyll to disassociate himself from Hyde
    to save his reputation, when he discovers they
    are no longer friends he says he is relieved by
    it. He doesnt seem to want to see the truth
    which portrays him as narrow minded.
  • In conclusion Stevenson challenges and criticises
    Victorian ideals mainly through the characters of
    Jekyll, Hyde, Lanyon and Utterson. Jekyll because
    it shows that someone upper class could be dark
    and have a deeper side, which wasnt expected in
    Victorian times. Hyde because he shows what
    London was really like and also because the way
    he acts is different to what was expected of
    people. Utterson because of the way he is so
    naive and investigates the Jekyll-Hyde saga and
    doesnt realise the truth. People in modern times
    would read the novella differently because twists
    such as a double personality are expected at the
    end of a book, whereas in Victorian times they
    werent.

43
  • Nowadays because of things like TV most people
    know the story of Jekyll and Hyde so they would
    know what to expect. It would also be read
    differently in modern day because things like
    repression of certain feelings and psychic splitti
    ng are a lot more common in the modern day.
    People in modern day would also read it
    differently because of the Jekyll-Hyde expression
    in the dictionary. Because of things like this
    people know bits about Jekyll and Hyde and know
    what occurs with the two of them. People also
    know a lot because it is popular culture, there
    have been books, TV programmes, films, cartoons
    and merchandise about Jekyll and Hyde.
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