Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde By Robert Louis Stevenson

2473 Words May 17th, 2016 null Page
Insanity seemed to be a matter of great fascination to those of the Victorian Era. Mental illness was the subject of many novels and scientific journals published during the second half of the 19th century, many of which went on to become quite popular. Amongst the most famous of these works is Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, which depicts an individual suffering from a personality split and extreme impulses towards evil. Even to a modern reader who has never picked up a psychology text, Jekyll’s and Hyde’s mental instability is painfully obvious. However, it an insight into Victorian perceptions and attitudes towards mental health, not a modern one, is required in order to properly understand these characters and their psyches. Before delving into what Victorians considered insane, it is necessary to have a basis of what they considered normal and healthy. Fortunately, the Victorians were rather fond of sharing their opinions on what was virtuous and have left a host of sources to be consulted. One booked aimed towards young men encouraged Victorians boys in “self-reliance… to be able to see what is the right line to take according to circumstances” (Baden-Powell 19) and to have a “sufficient cool-headedness” (Baden-Powell 21). These traits were expected to continue on into adulthood for, as one self help book declared, “The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in an individual” (Smiles 35). Novels such as Dinah Craik’s…

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