Comparing Jekyll And Hyde And Mr. Hyde Essay

Comparing Jekyll And Hyde And Mr. Hyde Essay

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In her article “Hyding Nietzsche in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Gothic of Philosophy,” Harriet Hustis argues that Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde displays an amalgamation of “the fictive and the philosophical” (Hustis 993). Hustis claims that Stevenson’s account of the origins of Jekyll and Hyde in his “A Chapter on Dreams” challenges the distinctions between “fiction and philosophy, the intention and the unintentional,” as well as “the conscious and the unconscious” (Hustis 994). The distinction between self and other is rendered equivocal as well. In addition to Stevenson’s account of its origins, the story of Jekyll and Hyde itself poses philosophical ideas about the breakdown of binaries and supposed opposites. Hustis compares Stevenson’s writings in and about Jekyll and Hyde to Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical statements in Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future—published in 1886, months after the publishing of Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Hustis begins her argument by proposing that the novella’s “most edifying thing” is not its ability to hold the reader’s interest, as Henry James claimed in “The Art of Presentation,” but rather the “intermingling of the fictive and the philosophical” (Hustis 993). This contrary view introduces Hustis’ interpretation of the philosophy hidden within Stevenson’s work.
Hustis’ first claim argues that Stevenson’s account of the origins of Jekyll and Hyde in “A Chapter on Dreams” complicates the concepts of definitive narrative origins and stable authorial intentions (Hustis 994). She uses Stevenson’s description of the “Brownies” that he claimed provided him with inspiration and ideas for his story to argue that Stevenson is inf...


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...al change. Hustis’ analysis should consider how and why nineteenth century Europe elicited such similar ideas within Stevenson and Nietzsche. What were the major catalysts that led to the shift away from Kant’s categorical imperative and from religious belief and towards the denial of opposites and (at least in Nietzsche’s case) nihilism?
As the article is currently structured, there is stunted flow and lack of clear connection between claims. This argument would be more effective if it was organized by first identifying the contextual influences that may have led to the transformation of thought adopted by Stevenson and Nietzsche, followed by identifying the similarities between their writings, and concluding with a synthesis that identified how and why the context of nineteenth-century Europe resulted in the development of Stevenson and Nietzsche’s similar ideas.

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