The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde Essay

The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde Essay

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Discuss the significance of a biblical text or theme in Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

In this essay, I will explore the ways in which The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a presentation of the drama of sin on the human condition. This inter-textual relationship has long been acknowledged by scholars including McAfee in his study bible, who wrote that 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is only [Stevenson 's] way of putting into modern speech Paul 's old distinction between the two men who abide in each of us ' (McAfee 1912, 178). I will further argue that through the novel 's conclusion, Stevenson invites his readers to confront the unsatisfactory conclusion of the Pauline discourse on sin found in Romans 7.
Critically reading the novel, as well as various letters of Stevenson, makes clear that 'Stevenson deliberately and methodically added layer upon layer of meaning to Hyde ' (Bland 2009, 5). Bland 's book aims to expound the culture in which Stevenson found himself writing, going on to argue that Stevenson 's writings are influenced by a Darwinism which precludes a "fall" but yet he equally draws on the poetic insights into humanity found in the bible. Bland fails to appreciate the nuanced synthesis of Darwinism with a religion which Stevenson himself describes as 'centred on the little rough-and-tumble world ' (Bland 2009, 15). This synthesis is part of Stevenson 's impetus to put into modern speech the writings of Paul; for him, the apishness descriptions of Hyde is the sign of Jekyll fallen nature. In this reading, when Adam and Eve fell, they did not 'be as gods ' (Gen 3:5) as the serpent promised, but became like the beasts. So, Darwin 's theories provided a vivid, modern image ...


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...because it demonstrates the multiplicity of influences at play with the author, and these influences can resonate or clash with the reader 's own cultural influences and beliefs in a multiplicity of ways.
In conclusion, this essay has explored how the first-time reader 's response to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is intended to be of the same kind, but perhaps to a greater magnitude, as the typical response to the reader of Romans 7. There is no redemption for Dr Jekyll as is found in the bible because Stevenson did not intend to capture every biblical motif, instead he is forcing the reader to become more aware of the questions that St Paul leaves unanswered. Perhaps, the uncomfortable conclusion of the novel serves to remind the reader that without the Gospel, the reality of human nature is one of decay with despair being the only rightful conclusion.

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