Marxist Theory and Class Relations in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Within the text of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson portrays a complex power struggle between Dr. Jekyll, a respected individual within Victorian London society, and Mr. Hyde a villainous man tempted with criminal urges, fighting to take total control of their shared body. While Dr. Jekyll is shown to be well-liked by his colleagues, Mr. Hyde is openly disliked by the grand majority of those who encounter him, terrified of his frightful nature and cruel actions. Throughout Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson portrays the wealthy side of London, including Mr. Utterson and Dr. Jekyll, as respected and well-liked, while showing the impoverish side as either non-existent or cruel.
Marxism is a method of analysis based around the concepts developed by the two German philosophers Karl Marx and Fredrich Engel, centered around the complexities of social-relations and a class-based society. Together, they collaborated their theories to produce such works as The German Ideology (1846) and The Communist Manifesto (1848), and developed the terms ‘’proletariat’ and ’bourgeois’ to describe the working-class and the wealthy, segmenting the difference between their respective social classes. As a result of the apparent differences, Marxism states that proletariats and bourgeoisie are in constant class struggle, working against each other to amount in a gain for themselves.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde features a setting based in various locations throughout Victorian London, including a variety of areas in different ends of the economic class spectrum. The primary characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, represent these opposite ends: Dr. Jekyll’s home is located in Soho, on a “dingy street” (Ste...

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...d Mr. Hyde, despite being placed in a setting where it would have been difficult to disregard, generally depicts the lower class as nonexistent in humanity, ignored in favor of characters higher on the scale of living. He gives the antagonist a home and appearance similar to how the impoverished would live to contrast the “good” of the protagonist, who is well-educated, prosperous, and accepted by society. Robert Louis Stevenson failed to give the poor in Victorian London society proper representation within the novel, and rather made the appearance of an educated male to be one of the only accepted individuals within the Victorian society.

Works Cited

"Robert Louis Stevenson Biography." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.

Robert, Stevenson L. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Dover Publications, 2013. Print.

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