The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

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The plot of Robert Louis Stevenson’s legendary novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is relatively well known. A scientist, Dr. Henry Jekyll, tries to separate his inner good from evil and ends up with an alter ego, Edward Hyde. While Hyde, he commits numerous atrocities, including trampling a child and beating Sir Danvers Carew to death with a walking stick. The story is mostly written from the point of view of Mr. Gabriel Utterson, a lawyer who is friends with Jekyll and eventually pieces together the mystery of his dual nature. Scholars have written countless articles on the duality of man in the novella, but few focus on the implications of the crimes that Jekyll commits as Hyde. In ending the saga of Mr. Hyde with Dr. Jekyll’s suicide, it is evident that Stevenson intended for readers to come to their own conclusions as to Jekyll’s guilt, as well as how he should be held accountable. This is complicated by the fact that, by committing suicide, Dr. Jekyll could be considered mentally ill by law. The legal system in Victorian England arguably treated the mentally ill unfairly, so in having Dr. Jekyll commit suicide, Stevenson could show this unfair treatment to the public. In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson couples the character of Dr. Jekyll with his legal and medical knowledge to suggest that the unjust way the Victorian legal system and dealt with the mentally ill needed to be reformed.
Stevenson’s background suggests that he had a wealth of
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