The Concerns Of The Victorinan Period English Literature Essay

The cultural theory of degeneration was developed consequently of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, it was thought "if something can progress, additionally, it may devolve" (Byron, 2000: 134). The idea of evolution designed that the human race was changeable and could evolve or even degenerate or devolve. The continuing future of human lifetime was now unidentified and seemed uncertain. Victorians for this reason unknown future performed an unpromising outlook assuming that the human race was in a state of decay. Theories backing up the idea of human degeneration originated from various scientific fields, such as anatomy, physiology and mindset. The prospect of the human race time for an ape like talk about concerned the Victorian consumer and we can easily see the anxieties of the age present in Victorian gothic literature where the heroes often change into monstrous or primitive ape like beings. A Partner to the Victorian Book states that the "Degeneration theory suggested that the individuals species was suffering from an intellectual, physical and moral decrease, and becoming more and more enfeebled through from syphilis, insanity, epilepsy, feminism, radicalism, offense and immigration to the stresses of modern civilization. In charting this regular drop toward racial suicide, degeneration both influenced and was influenced by a number of branches of methodical and psychological theory"(2005). Researchers from different areas added to this notion of there being men who have been "genetically identified to be degenerate and deviant" ( Botting, 1996:137). The gothic books discussed in this essay illustrate the anxieties encompassing these ideas.

The distressing conditions at the end of the nineteenth century in urban conditions like the City of London provided perfect conditions for writing literature of terror. The Strange Case of Dr. Jeykll and Mr Hyde is one such book that gains from the circumstances and conditions during its posting. The Strange Circumstance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Stevenson plays after this innate fear of degeneration it is because 'Stevenson gave fictional form to an emerging turmoil of the late-nineteenth century: the notion that the contest itself was succumbing to degenerative tendencies that threatened the fabric of population' (Dryden, 2003). Dryden asserts that "Worries of the 'beast within' was the late nineteenth century's fear of itself. Degeneracy could lead to atavism, which must be purged in order that the contest evolves beyond its pet animal intuition" (Dryden, 2003)

The fear of degeneration is certainly located in the character of Edward Hyde. If we take a look at Hyde further he appears to fit perfectly into the mould of the "criminal type" of degenerate grouped and recognized by Lombroso and Galton. Laurence Talairach-Vielmas states in his overview of Tracing the Criminal: The Go up of Scientific Criminology in Britain, 1860-1918 that : "Lombroso's theory, as expounded in Lawbreaker Man, was grounded upon the premises that 70% of scammers were biologically designed to commit offences. Lombroso regarded his 219 unlawful portraits as evidence of an atavistic criminal type and foregrounded the relevance of anatomical or physiognomical features, such as the prominence of the jaw, the harshness of the look, or the plethora of locks. Lombroso noticed atavism as the primary biological cause of criminal behavior and paid little attention to socio-economic factors; yet he steadily included congenital illnesses and kinds of degenerescence in his legal type, progressively merging criminality, insanity and epilepsy, as underlined in his Criminal offenses: Its Causes and Remedies (1899). " (Talairach-Vielmas, 2007) L'uomo Deliquente was publicized in 1875 which covered theories literally characterising the top features of the unlawful type. Lombrosso strongly suspected that the physical top features of a person could indicate whether a person was a unlawful. The Character of Edward Hyde has these inherit traits of criminal degeneracy. These features can be seen not only through the horrendous and extraordinarily violent acts of crime but his physiognomy. Hyde appears to be a literal and exact characterisation of what Lombroso established to be a criminal in his theory. Linda Dryden property in The Modern gothic and literary doubles: Stevenson, Wilde and Wells "For Lombroseo, the felony was physically unusual, like Hyde, whose appearance advises to Enfield 'a strong feeling of deformity' and the resemblance to 'primitive races' is echoed in Hyde's 'troglodytic' appearance". (Dryden, 2003).

Hyde is constantly described in a detestable dynamics with such words as 'ape-like', 'savage' and 'dwarfish'. Stephen Arata observes that "Jekyll and Hyde articulates in Gothic fiction's exaggerated shades late-Victorian anxieties concerning degeneration, devolution, and 'criminal man'" (Arata, 1995:233). When Dr. Jekyll transforms into Hyde he therefore is degenerating to less form, this is highlighted and shown threw repeated comparisons to primitive varieties of lifestyle. Stephen Arata continues on to say that "Stevenson's first visitors could easily discern the lineaments of Cesare Lombroso's atavistic criminal. The describing words seem to flawlessly harmonize with Lombroso's explanation of what he brands the 'unlawful type". The Victorian audience would definitely have been able to see the evaluations between Hyde and the 'Criminal type and Arata goes on to further declare that "Stevenson's middle-class viewers would have possessed as little trouble deciphering the features of the 'unnatural and misbegotten' Hyde, his 'body an imprint of deformity and decay, ' as Stevenson's middle-class characters do" (Arata, 1995:233).

The personality of Edward Hyde in addition is intensely disliked by all on first acquaintance. People appear to possess this interesting aversion to Hyde, he beholds this repugnant characteristics. The most intriguing point is that no one can actually pinpoint the precise root of Hyde's unpleasantness. Richard Enfield articulates, "I never noticed a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. . . he provides strong sense of deformity, although I couldn't identify the idea", while Lanyon elaborates, "there was something irregular and misbegotten in the very essence of the creature that now encountered me something seizing, surprising, and revolting" (Stevenson:73). Utterson supports the same view and reports the same characteristics, he declares that Hyde was "pale and dwarfish; he provided the feeling of deformity with no nameable malformation"(Stevenson:15). Utterson's succeeding link with this uncanny aura, detestable aspect and indescribability in relation to Hyde's appearance shows Hyde as an exemplar of Lombroseo and Galton theories of criminal atavism. Hyde's repulsive and vile appearance is instinctively associated with delinquency and criminality. Hyde appears to radiate this evil, repugnant aura, people who come into contact with him seem to adopt this instant loathing to him. Utterson illiterates this aura of repulsiveness in the next draw out: "the radiance of the foul heart transpires through, and transfigures its clay content" (Stevenson: 15). Hyde comes across as deformed yet he lacks the unique physical top features of an inherent deformity. Utterson confirms explaining Edward Hyde's deformity and bad aura meticulously hard, he declares that" hard all these details were against; but not all these collectively could make clear the hitherto unknown disgust, loathing, and fear with which Mr. Utterson viewed him"(Stevenson:15-16). The specific features and features that account for his horrid appearance of deformity seem to be to remain anonymous and evade comprehension. The Victorians presented this concern with the undiscovered and Hyde certainly embodies the uncanny that was a thought and theory produced by Sigmund Freud. The uncanny is where something can be acquainted yet foreign at exactly the same time resulting in uneasiness.

The other signal of Hyde's criminal degeneracy is an clear one; it is his atavistic methods of conduct. The climax of the novel is the murder of Sir Danvers Carew in that ferociously violent mother nature by Hyde. The criminal offense is depicted in a horrific aspect, in the next extract it is advised that "Mr. Hyde broke out of most bounds, and clubbed to the earth. And next minute, with apelike fury, he was trampling his sufferer under feet, hailing down a storm of blows, under that your bones were audibly shattered and your body jumped upon the roadway" (Stevenson, p27). Hyde's repulsive appearance and volatile activities show that Stevenson has performed on what Get ascertains as the Victorian worries and anxieties of "urban degeneration".

The plot from the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde can be in comparison to that of The Picture of Dorian Grey. Both novels show a quality gothic story where there is this degeneration from higher to lower state. The novels expose the degeneration of the reputable middle class to a far more primitive and bestial point out. The middle class at the time witnessed the original values and family structures under great pressure as Britain discovered a "loosening of moral, cosmetic and sexual rules associated with fin de siЁcle decadence". Therefore is echoed and depicted in the books of that time period. The Victorian Gothic depicted customers of the middle classes as the new patients of corruption and decay. For example Dr Jekyll in the weird case changes into this primitive form after taking a concoction while Dorian Grey similarity degenerates to a lower form of living. The moral degeneration of Dorian Gray is shown through the portraits gradual decay, it is explained that "the facial skin painted on the canvas could expand bestial, sodden, and unclean" (Wilde: 238). The further Dorian corrupts a lot more bestial the picture becomes it is "the most mysterious of mirrors, " (Wilde: 227). In Overdue Victorian Gothic Tales by Robert Luckhurst it is commented that "The picture that Dorian Gray hides in his house is not only a metaphor of moral problem, but is an accurate record of physical degenerative decay". (Luckhurst, 2000)The visible changes that show the problem of Dorian's heart get on Victorian doubts of human being degeneration and ethnic decay: "But here was a obvious image of the degradation of sin. Here was an ever-present indication of the damage men brought upon their souls. " (Wilde: 78). However Dorian's own appearance is unaffected and therefore his atavistic dynamics cannot be deciphered threw physiognomy regarding to Victorian theory which played on Victorian anxieties.

Dorian Gray's submersion in the Victorian underworld of erotic liberation, criminality and opium is portrayed in an identical dynamics to Edward Hyde's. Wilde fuses the imagery of top of the class and lower course by having the allegedly reputable Dorian go to the poor and deprived districts of London. 'He remembered wandering through dimly-lit streets with gaunt black-shadowed archways and evil-looking residences. Women with hoarse voices and harsh laughter had called after him. Drunkards acquired reeled by cursing, and chattering to themselves like monstrous apes. He previously seen grotesque children huddled upon doorsteps, and got read shrieks and oaths from gloomy courts" (Wilde: 114 ). In the previous extract the working classes are depicted as ape like beings and for that reason Dorian's involvement with this sphere features Dorian as primitive. Lord Henry asserts that "crime belongs exclusively to the lower orders. I will fancy that crime was to them what artwork is to us, just a approach to procuring extraordinary sensations" (Wilde: 152). This previous extract not only shows the duality of Dorian's dynamics as both a criminal and a good middle-class gentleman but it also illustrates the criminality of not only the lower classes. At this time characteristics of the legal type were associated in the late-Victorian head with the lower category, but Jekyll and Hyde and Dorian Gray both challenge that idea. For instance Stephen Arata asserts about Jekyll and Hyde that 'While his impulsiveness and savagery, his violent temper, and his appearance all make Hyde as lower category and atavistic, his vices are obviously those of a monied gentleman. ' (Arata, 1995) Mans dual mother nature is a common theme in Stevenson's and Wilde's masterpieces. This idea of people using a divided personal was equally used in the Gothic novels and was a product of theory's such as the theory of cultural repression. This theory assumed that the restricting moral rules of the bourgeoisie produced the "divided and repressing life styles of the middle-classes, respectable by day and pleasure-seeking by night" (Botting, 1996: 136).

Dorian can be known as digressing from the bigger class to the lower category sphere. Joseph Bristow remarks that "Dorian wears an excellent aristocratic face but possesses what may be known as a working-class (debased, gross, indecent) body, as he steps across and between different echelons of contemporary society" (Bristow, 1992: 60). Dorian's persona is similar to that of Jekyll/Hyde, both are divided between higher and lower classes and good and bad. The strange case and Dorian Gray both illustrate the vulnerability of the center school to degeneration. Linda Dryden claims in THE PRESENT DAY Gothic and Literary Doubles that'The susceptibility of the upper category to moral decay was the theme of Degeneration' (Dryden 2003). Theories of the time did not simply focus on the lower class for occasion "Nordau took discomfort to demand that the degenerate people 'comprises chiefly of wealthy informed people' who, with too much time and means at their removal, succumb to decadence and depravity" (Arata 1996). The Victorian Gothic book certainly depicted members of the center classes as the new subjects of problem and decay (Byron, 2000: 137). Clare Clarke illiterates that 'Both Edward Hyde, and indeed Dorian Grey, then, are statistics that embody a bourgeois readership's most detrimental fears not no more than the atavistic and marauding poor but also of the decadent and immoral upper classes. ' (Clarke, 2005)

Both the novels touched upon in this article draw their power from worries and anxieties in Britain at the end of the 19th century with regards to the degeneration discourse. Problems inbuilt in human nature were believed to result in the regression to primitive varieties and split personalities. Dorian's problem and decay must have been specifically alarming and distressing to the Victorian community because of his reputable middle class position, amongst the actual fact his physiognomy lacked the natural signs of degeneracy and decay. Mr Hyde on the other hands appearance and uncanny mother nature give away his atavistic modes of do and his degeneracy although still alarming. This Victorian fear of degeneracy can be seen in both novels mainly focusing on the immoral higher classes and there degenerative tendencies. New ideas brought on this unease and stress in Victorian brains about the steadiness of human character. The actual fact the Victorian time was that of much change, industrialization and scientific development just helped build doubt about the future of the human race. Criminal offense rates were high, overpopulation in locations was rife and poverty was a huge problem just adding to theories bordering decay and degeneracy. The make of the era is seen in the novels reviewed toying with the doubts and anxieties of the time.

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