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Use of Imagination in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Study in Scarlet and Sign of the Four

While reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet and Sign of the Four, I found myself impatiently competing against Mr. Utterson and Sherlock Holmes to find out the solutions to the crimes. Stevenson and Doyle cleverly use the imagination of their protagonists to display through fictional literature the concern late Victorians felt about the rise of a new science. The characters of Utterson and Holmes resemble each other in their roles as objective observers who use imagination to create a picture in the reader’s mind about the narrative.

In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Utterson is a prominent London lawyer retained to oversee Dr. Jekyll’s personal affairs. Utterson is characterized as an upright and honest man who is genuinely interested in his client’s well being. Through his acquaintance with Enfield, a man about London, Utterson learns more about Dr. Jekyll’s friend, the mysterious Mr. Hyde. For the reader’s benefit, Utterson exhibits his imagination by opening a window to the discrete aspects of Dr. Jekyll’s life. It is important for readers to envision the discrete aspects of Jekyll’s character including his good and evil nature that he continually experiments with through scientific study. This display of imagination allows the narrative to smoothly unfold and quantify Stevenson’s attempt to reveal late Victorian concerns through fiction.

In the same way, Sign of the Four’s character of Holmes uses imagination through his role as an optimistic, amateur detective. Holmes is portrayed as being driven by his imagination, which compels him to shoot cocaine in order to alleviate the feeling of boredom…

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… at Pondicherry Lodge and while Utterson’s concern with character of Jekyll discloses an aspect of the new science that probes the duality of good versus evil.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Doyle, Arthur Conan. A Study in Scarlet in The Complete Sherlock Holmes. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1930. 22-75.

Chesney, Kellow. The Victorian Underworld. New York: Schocken Books, 1970.

Macdonald, Ross. “The Writer as Detective Hero.” Detective Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Robin W. Winks. Englewood Cliffs, London: Prentice-Hall, 1980.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. First Vintage Classics Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.

Veeder, William. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde after One Hundred Years. Eds. William Veeder and Gordon Hirsch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Comparing the Impact of Darwin on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and She

The Impact of Darwin on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and She Who Must Be Obeyed

Imagine what would happen if everything you believed to be true was suddenly challenged. How would you feel if the solid rock bottom of your religious and cultural beliefs turned into a slippery slope of doubt? Such was the dilemma the Victorians faced with the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species.

The questioning of man’s origin in the form of evolution and survival of the fittest brought an uneasy feeling as to man’s place within the hierarchy of the universe. Darwin’s theory that mankind was evolved from apes and not created by a divine being shocked civilized society. The comparisons between civilized and uncivilized behavior linked through evolution is a predominant theme throughout Victorian literature.

Through the writings of this era, we can see the preoccupation with the cultural conflict between evolution and creationism. In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson introduces us to the concept that the beast within us all lies very close to the surface. He explores the dual personality and the constant battle waged within oneself between civilized and uncivilized behavior. In his full statement of the case, Dr. Jekyll states, “But I had voluntarily stripped myself of all those balancing instincts by which even the worst of us continues to walk with some degree of steadiness among temptations; and in my case, to be tempted, however slightly, was to fall.” (49) Although Dr. Jeykll was disdainful of Hr. Hyde’s thoughts and actions, he recognized within himself that he enjoyed the freedom and the thrills that Mr. Hyde’s uncivilized behavior brought. He enjoyed …

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…ainty. Both Haggard and Stevenson linked the theory to their stories in an attempt to show us the fine line between civilized and uncivilized, man or beast. This anxiety and uncertainty was reflected in most of the literature of the time and would continue to be reflected in literature of the future. And then Darwin comes along with The Descent of Man!

Works Cited and Consulted:

Cohen, Morton N. Rider Haggard: His life

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