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Jekyll and Faustus: Science, Myth and Consequence for Victorians
     

Jekyll and Faustus: Science, Myth and Consequence for Victorians

by Jamie Freeman
 
It does not happen very often, but occasionally a story will come along that defines a generation. Somehow the themes and characters seem more like our society and ourselves than other tales, and we see deep truths in the story so enfolded, that the unpacking of these truths would take too much explanation. So the simplest, truest mode is the story itself. The themes

Overview

It does not happen very often, but occasionally a story will come along that defines a generation. Somehow the themes and characters seem more like our society and ourselves than other tales, and we see deep truths in the story so enfolded, that the unpacking of these truths would take too much explanation. So the simplest, truest mode is the story itself. The themes become metaphors for what was going on in our lives, and the heroes’ fight on behalf of good in the struggle against evil is somehow fought for all of us. We purged our own ills cathartically— we saved the world vicariously. These stories become myth: they become the cliché as they are retold in other, lesser versions, until the genius of the original is supplanted by a new story as the times change. But the old stories stick with us, and have been with us since the very dawn of humanity. Much can be gained from thinking on the stories of old. For those living in late 18th-century Britain, Robert Louis Stevenson’s "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" became a myth in late-Victorian culture which defined, and was defined by, society at large and is based on a tradition of other proto-scientific myths. The myth identifies the struggle as Victorians attempt to come to terms with the things in their world that are problematic, in particular the relation of the body and soul to the material plane, and the consequences of this new mode of thinking. The purpose of this essay is to get a sense of how late-Victorians attempted to come to terms with the themes evident in Stevenson’s novel, and how the discourse of science and morality evolved from other defining myths, particuarly the Faustus myths. These understandings are placed in the context of modern critical discussion to determine how the mythic elements converse with our perceptions of Victorian thought.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940012567574
Publisher:
Witchful Thinking
Publication date:
11/24/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
59 KB

Meet the Author

Jamie is a teacher, counselor and writer in constant pursuit of answers to the question "what does it mean to be human". She holds a BA in English Literature, studied Education at the graduate level, and is an MA candidate in Professional Counseling. She engages the archetypal and mythic themes in her fiction and poetry, her academic essays, and even in her advice column on her blog. Jamie lives in Puyallup with her partner and cats.

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