The Victorian era was marked by many significant achievements and historical innovations. It created a society which awarded successful upper class men with large fortunes while it exacerbated the conditions of the poor. However, in the nineteenth century the idea of the “Survival of the fittest” was first proposed by Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher and Darwinist. This new concept made many Victorians fear that the working class, who consist of the larger population and stronger forces, would gradually gain power and overthrow the aristocracy. An echo of social Darwinism is found in the novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886, reflects the author’s perception of Social Darwinism. Through the struggle of Dr. Jekyll with his alter ego, Mr. Hyde, Stevenson proves that survival of the fittest is only natural and irresistible force and, eventually, the stronger individuals will dominate the weaker ones despite the efforts the weaks had put in.
In the beginning of the book, the text soon expresses the idea that it recounts, “… the two ran into one another naturally enough at the corner; and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child 's body and left her screaming on the ground.” (Stevenson, 16) In the scenario, the child, or the little girl, shows no sign of defense or resistance and can only be trampled by the man, Mr. Hyde. Just as Darwinism claimed, the weak will eventually be taken over by the fittest. In this scene, the girl represents the weak and Mr. Hyde represents the latter. Through the perception of Darwinism, the novella is constructed to express how Dr. Jekyll ulti...
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...ity and desire and are able to dominate others with their power. The example of Dr. Jekyll transforming into Hyde and eventually losing control also is also recognized as such idea.
As a paradigm of the Social Darwinism, the novella has successfully exemplified the survival of the fittest through the struggle of Dr. Jekyll. Darwinism applies an irresistible force in our society that the stronger one dominates, and the ideal of the Victorian era will eventually be overthrown and obsolete. The text moreover implies the downfall of the Victorian era through the death of Dr. Lanyon and the losing power of noble through the death of Sir Danvers Carew. Finally, Stevenson has tried to challenge ideals of Victorian or those who attempted to fit into the society’s morality, that only the dominating force will survive in the society and those who are weaker will be eliminated.
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