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Robert Louis Stevenson Influences

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External Influences on Stevenson’s Writings

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis

Stevenson was a familiar title to me and prior to reading it I

believed I was well versed about the story. I knew that Dr.

Jekyll was an intelligent man who experimented with the idea

of creating a more powerful version of him that would release

his deepest inhibitions. In addition, I believed that the

people of the town were not fully aware of Mr. Hyde, only that

there was a monster running about the city creating havoc. The

townspeople would not be directly affected by Mr. Hyde and I

most certainly never thought that Mr. Hyde was capable of

murder. Furthermore, it was my thought that when people

referred to another person as being like Dr. Jekyll and Mr.

Hyde that they could switch from being kind one minute to

being irrational and short tempered the next. I never believe

the clichÐ"© to be in reference toward one’s physical aggression

or anger. Finally, prior to reading the novel I believed that

the novel was am indication to the times and the medical

maladies that were present at the time that Stevenson wrote it.

Upon my completion of the book, I learned that while in some

aspects I had the right idea on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the

novel was much more insightful that I had ever imagined. Not

only was Dr. Jekyll an intelligent man but he was very popular

around his town as well as reputable in his society. Others

assumed he was an average man who was being blackmailed by Mr.

Hyde for some misdeed that he had committed in his earlier

years and that was their only connection. Furthermore, the

townspeople were unaware of the happenings of Dr. Jekyll’s

experiments and the consequences of drinking the concoction

that transformed him into Mr. Hyde. Perhaps the most shocking

difference between what I perceived to be true and what the

novel revealed was the fact that split personality disorder

was not even a thought at the time this novel was published.

There had been no prior research as to why a person may act in

two different ways, so in a way Stevenson may have uncovered a

common problem in society and given it recognition in a hidden

message through the novel. Overall, the novel was similar as

to how I previously believed it to be, but Stevenson made it

more relatable to human life rather than incredibly

science-fiction as I had thought it to be. Even though “The

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” may have been

Stevenson’s attempt to allude to a medical disorder of Dr.

Jekylls, Stevenson’s intriguing youth and external influences

during his time period made him one of the most timeless

authors in history.

The idea that Stevenson may have been to allude to the idea

that medical malady of Dr. Jeykll’s is one of the most common

rationales as to why Dr. Jekyll did what he did. There are a

number of medical explanations as to Dr. Jeykll’s behaviors

such as double consciousness, moral insanity, and a number of

other plausible ideas. During the 19th century it was

considered taboo to be suggesting or mentioning sexual

happenings in society and even medical excuses for people’s

actions was still questionable. On the other hand, people at

the time would be much more susceptible to the idea of a

medical excuse for one’s behaviors rather than the

supernatural explanation of Mr. Hyde’s existence. Double

consciousness is the idea that a man is not fully in control

of himself and there is an awareness of those secondary

desires deep within (Stevenson 146). In that, many people of

the time were heavily involve in the use of “spirits” or

alcohol in order to release their own inhibitions much like

Dr. Jekyll used Hyde to release his own inhibitions. The

inhibition that a person struggles with is their internal

battle between good and evil in them but as Stevenson

exaggerates, Dr. Jekyll physically separates his good side

from his evil side (Stevenson 21). Moral insanity during the

mid-19th century became a new field of study that was used to

diagnose unusual behaviors in people rather than their mental

illnesses (Stevenson 147). When a person would begin to act as

Dr. Jekyll did toward the end of the novel and locking

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