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The Fantasy in 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The fantastic and gothic features.
  3. The duality of human nature.
  4. A criticism of the Victorian society.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Works cited.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, was an immediate success and had been revisited a number of times since its first publication in 1886. It can be considered as the Gothic tale par excellence. The Gothic genre started in the middle of the Eighteenth Century as a reaction against the Victorian society. Thus, I will attempt to show how Stevenson used the fantasy to criticize his society in this novella. To do so, the fantastic and gothic nature of the novella will first be stated, and then the fantastic theme of the duality of human nature will be studied. Finally, the criticism of Victorian society will be discussed. The fantasy genre appeared around the Middle Ages in Europe and in the Muslim world. Thanks to its popular characteristic, it found its way through the literature of all ages. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, belongs to fantasy since it displays almost all of its main features. Indeed, the novella involves a "physician-wizard", Dr Jekyll, and a "criminal-beast-devil", Mr Hyde.

[...] says that: in the time of Huxley and Darwin, ?writers were becoming more and more interested in what scientific terms- constituted the ?humanity? of human beings? (28). Indeed, the theories of evolution were challenging the true origin and nature of man. As science was interested on what made someone human, the gothic (and even science fiction) literature was paradoxically challenging science as something which could overreach people. Through the extreme example of the scientist? syndrom, Stevenson wanted to warn them of the danger of science. [...]

[...] But the mysterious door is actually a connection between Jekyll's and Hyde's dwellings, and, as their connection in real life, one cannot see it from the outside because it is hidden (the two appartments look on different sides of the street). Appearances were also very important on a physical point of view. Indeed, physiognomy was a very popular science at the time, the one holding that one could identify a criminal by physical appearance. Thus, the animalistic of Hyde aspect made him the perfect suspect. Actually, in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson denounced progress and science, a value that was praised during the Victorian period. [...]

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