Evolving Monsters - Evolving Monsters In the late...

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Evolving Monsters In the late nineteenth century, the growth of experimental medical science transformed the American medical profession in a plethora of ways. As science and medicine began to progress in a more complex and rapid manner the image of science and scientists as “monsters” became more intricate and multifaceted. In particular, when medicine and science underwent drastic transformations during the first half of the twentieth century, the spectacular reformation caused scientific “monsters” to evolve in a surprising array of forms. This paper illuminates some of the main examples of these “monsters” in literature and critique, and how they evolved in a close interaction with their surrounding society. The novella Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde takes place in the Victorian era, an era where medical experiments were not a widely accepted practice; in the novella the “monster” created, Mr. Hyde, can be attributed to the societal constraints that were ubiquitous in the Victorian era. During the Victorian era medical experiments were practiced, however were not widely accepted as they are in the today. This lack of acceptance is shown by Jekyll’s former colleague Dr. Lanyon, who labels Dr. Jekyll’s most recent line of research as “unscientific balderdash.”(Stevenson, p. 7) This illustrates the supernatural belief of scientific experiments during that era, which contrast powerfully with the prevailing scientific consensus of the Victorian world, in which rationalism and materialism had prevalence. Dr. Lanyon’s reverence for the rational and logic in science, he emerges as the model nineteenth-century scientist, repeatedly dismissing Jekyll’s mystical experiments. Later events prove that his dogmatic faith in a purely material science is more analogous to superstition than Jekyll’s experiments. The Victorian value system was based largely on reputation rather than reality. This prioritization was reflected in the narrator’s remarks about Utterson as well as in the characters’
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own remarks about gossip and blackmail. The limitations that accompanied the Victorian value system were what ultimately drove Dr. Jekyll to look for an alternative outlet from the harsh constraints of society. Dr. Jekyll found a scapegoat to society though his scientific research—Mr. Hyde, “hence it came about that [Dr. Jekyll] concealed [his] pleasures.” (Stevenson, p. 42)
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This note was uploaded on 03/19/2008 for the course LBS 133 taught by Professor Rienheld during the Spring '05 term at Michigan State University.

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Evolving Monsters - Evolving Monsters In the late...

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