Darwin in Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

1835 Words Oct 29th, 2010 8 Pages
In Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as in Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species of Natural Selection, man's dual nature is illustrated in terms of evolution and morality. In this essay I will argue that Stevenson's description of both the interior and exterior struggles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde echo Darwin's theories of evolution and natural selection. Through close readings, comparisons, and the juxtaposition of the novel and theoretical genre, I will explain how Stevenson's physical description of Edward Hyde can be divided into three streams (the primitive being, the animalistic, and the childlike) and mirrors Darwin's argument that "man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible …show more content…
There is no rational reason as to why Hyde killed this innocent man, only that he could not contain himself and was completely overcome with the instinct to kill. Humans are dynamic parts of society, subject to learn restrain and that violent behavior is socially unacceptable. Hyde however, acts purely on his instincts, typical of an animal that early on learns the harsh realities of the food chain in the animal kingdom. This incorporation of animalistic discourse is also practiced by Darwin: The grounds upon this conclusion rests will never be shaken, for the close similarity between man the lower animals in embryonic development, as well as in innumerable points of structure and constitution, both of high and most trifling importance,- the rudiments which he retains, and the abnormal reversions to which he is occasionally liable.(Darwin, 1362)

Here we see Darwin acknowledge our biological relationship to animals that cannot be argued. However, he also extends the relationship between intellectually inferior animals and humans to our behavior. As mentioned in the above quote, natural animal instincts such as the will for individual survival and the protection of children can be found in all animals, including humans. Darwin also acknowledges that humans can sometimes revert to purely animalistic behavior. However