The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

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Victorian Hopes and Fears Involving Science as Found in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

During the Victorian Era there was a great race to use science to alleviate the suffering of the ill, specifically for those patients who were suffering from ailments of the mind. While some of the methods used to diagnose and treat such afflictions would be considered barbaric in nature by today’s standards, they were considered cutting edge medical science during the time of the Victorian Era. It was also considered standard practice to conduct experiments in the name of science to seek treatments for mental as well as physical illnesses, but sometimes the outcome was worse than the initial problem. In the Scottish novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, science is heavily relied upon by the main characters as a means of diagnosis and treatment for what is revealed to be the unusual illness of Henry Jekyll. Additionally, the question of where morality fits into science is also applied to the strange events surrounding Dr. Jekyll and his mysterious companion. The question that will be examined in this paper deals with the nature of the hopes and fears Victorian society places into science where it concerns the treatment of illness and whether or not the acts of Edward Hyde constitute someone who is truly mentally ill, or if they are mere representations of the darker side of human nature.
Two of the supporting characters in the novella, Enfield and Utterson, are representative of
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