The stereotypical view of evil is shown through dark colours and beings such as the devil, these contrasts with murders and killings as shown in Jekyll and Hyde. In Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde the views on good and evil are shown through characters appearances, their behaviour, the modern standard of living and suppression; there are communicated by gothic horror. Throughout the story, there are references to light and dark which metaphorically relates to good vs. evil, not only between characters, but in the conflicting sides of the same character.
At the setting of the play (Victorian era) Science had just been introduced into the Victorian era and was treated as unexplainable circumstances as little was known behind the theory of experiments. This caused for mystery in the Victorian era, thus making Jekyll and Hyde a more horrific and frightening novel. Stevenson had an obsession with the darker side of life and he relates to the character of Hyde by being a respectable man during the day but losing to his obsessions at night. Stevenson, can relate to his novel as he lived in Edinburgh, though in the more affluent area.
The setting of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is London but it was based on Edinburgh with the contrast of two sides of poor and rich. In this essay, I will explore how evil is represented in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in the Victorian era. At this time, crime was extremely high in the poorer areas which lead people, in desperation to make a living, to involve themselves in crimes (murder, rape, prostitution… ). The Victorian era was host to many notorious murders such as Jack the Ripper, who, as seen stereotypically was never identified.
The murder knew his way around the human body showing a sign of education thus having as he appeared to have a great anatomical knowledge, hence making him a respectable man by day and a butcher by night. This may have greatly influenced Stevenson, with the magnificent degree of mystery surrounding the case, it may have given rise to thoughts on how to a great, mysterious villain may operate, fuelling Stevenson’s imagination. Dr. Jekyll was an intelligent man with scientific knowledge, but his reflection; Mr.
Hyde was a violent crook. Smog was extremely thick London due to the highly populated industrial farms, causing for the environment to be covered. This made for it be close to impossible to see in distances, so villains could use this as an aid for means of escape. These city conditions were the perfect environment for elaborating deaths, murder and mystery to show pure evil. At the beginning we see Mr. Enfield witness the incident of the little girl, and he describes the magnitude of the smog.
There was an incredibly strict code of conduct in the Victorian times, with many natural desires being repressed. The seven deadly sins are a perfect example of some of the things that were repressed. These are lust, gluttony, greed, pride, sloth, wrath and envy. The repression of lust was so great that table legs would have been covered at all time. Middle-class men would have been expected to conceal their secret desires, and if they wanted to express them, they would have to do so in darker parts of the city.
This can explain Dr.Jekyll’s desire to transform himself into Hyde, as it would give him a way to release some of his desires and not be discovered doing it. When Stevenson was young, he developed a medical condition that would live with him for the rest of his life. Stevenson was raised by his nurse who extravagantly showed him the divide between good and evil. This troubled him as a young child, giving him terrifying nightmares and tormenting memories through out his life. It is suggestible that the idea of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came from one of these night mares.
With all these troubled thoughts on the topic of good and evil, Stevenson may have developed many different superstitious views of what good and evil were, and therefore written about them in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Victorian era was a revolutionary time; religion was on the decline and scientific and medical discoveries were growing like never before. This influenced writers such as Mary Shelley. She was the author of Frankenstein; a science fiction horror about a revolutionary experiment that goes wrong.
This concept mad scientists getting in deeper than they could handle is one of the main themes in the book. As very few people knew what was possible with this new found phenomenon it would appear as though anything was possible. This was important because the key to a good horror is truth and as no one knew anything about it, no one was in the position to question its reality. It is obvious that the appearances of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are intended to make a distinction between how each character behaves.
The smart image of Jekyll is easily contrastable to the primeval image of Hyde. The audience would expect Hyde to dress fairly scruffy when compared to Dr. Jekyll, however we can see him always dressed smart and in a suit, playing of the social context where we would expect eh evil Mr. Hyde to be in shabby tattered clothing Mr. Hyde is described as a short stocky man, leading us to assume him to have deformities of some sort.
Mr. Utterson, Dr. Lanyon and Mr. Enfield all describe witnessing something horrifically evil in Mr.Hyde’s face. It is as though he emits a sense of foreboding to everyone he meets. He is often described as having the characteristics of an animal, suggesting that he has not evolved entirely into a human being. He is infamous for his horrific actions such as trampling over a little girl and for the murder of Sir Danvers Carew, despite this he still appears to hold a civilised manor whilst talking to his associates; however, he still appears to be blunt, rash and eager to avoid convocation.