The in which they were written. In “The

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The Danger of Knowledge

The development of gothic literature in the Victorian era reflect
the political, social, and cultural contexts in which they were written. In
“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson,
the protagonist, Mr. Utterson, investigates the strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry
Jekyll, and his evil second self, Edward Hyde.
In “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, the compulsive scientist, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, attempts
to create life by assembling a creature using body parts from the dead. After
successfully animating his creature, Victor abandons his creature who then begins
to kill those close to Victor. Frankenstein searches for the creature and
eventually must confront his creation. Both
authors implement similar techniques to exemplify the importance of gothic
elements and their effect on individuals.

The curiosity and love of science epitomize the
equivalences of the mysterious and the supernatural.
Victor is a remote member of society whose purpose is to overcome the limits
set by humanity and God. At the
University of Ingolstadt, Victor develops a passion regarding the advancements
in human anatomy. Upon learning of the potential to reanimate the dead, Victor
“collects the instruments of life around him, that he might infuse a
spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at his feet. By the glimmer
of the half-extinguished light, he saw the dull yellow eye of the creature
open” (Shelley, 58). Victor garners the remains of the dead and experiments on
them through little-known technology. The
exploration of such inhumane trials portrays Victor’s
scientific experimentations as something much greater than a pastime. Furthermore,
Victor provides a vague description of the conception of his creature, leading
one to believe that his rationale for
being opaque is his regret for creating the being. Subsequently, Victor’s experiments lead to the creation of a
supernatural being which possesses substantial physical prowess in addition to being
imperative to disease and infection. Likewise, Stevenson fabricates Dr. Jekyll
as a remote constituent of society whose purpose is to overcome the limits set by humanity
and God. Dr. Jekyll is a prominent figure in the scientific community who is
well known by society. Dr. Jekyll’s main intrigue is the duality of man – the
separation of good from evil. Dr. Jekyll’s evil alter-ego Mr. Hyde is given the same authority as Dr. Jekyll
himself. However, Dr. Jekyll “hesitates long before he put this theory to
the test of practice … but the temptation of a discovery so singular and
profound at last overcame the suggestions of alarm” (Stevenson, 57). Jekyll believes
that man is made of both good and evil, but one always
controls the other. As a prominent member of society, Jekyll cannot
fulfill his evil desires, and as a result, he creates Mr. Hyde to free his base
desires. The experiment results in the formation of a supernatural being, in
which Dr. Jekyll can commit acts of evil without facing any consequences. Thus,
both Dr. Jekyll and Victor Frankenstein are inquisitive beings whose love for
science result in the formation of supernatural beings. Furthermore, both
novels display the negative aspects of isolation.

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The
exploration of forbidden science exemplifies the gothic element of isolation.
Victors goal of creating life leads him down a path of isolation and despair as
he must allocate a majority of his time to making the creature. This strenuous dedication
takes a toll on Victor as he experiences “a slow
fever, and has become nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of a leaf
startles him, and he shuns his fellow creatures as if he was guilty of a
crime” (Shelley, 57). Victor’s segregation from society exemplifies the
negative effects of isolation. Isolation causes Victor to experience both mental
and physical agony as the formation of the creature causes Victor to become ill,
and restless. Loneliness also causes Victor to overlook his responsibilities
and the consequences of his actions. Victor does not consider the repercussions
of desolating his creature and the neglects the creature’s basic needs and
emotions. As a result, the creature deeply hates Victor and yearns to make
Victor as desolate as him by killing everyone close to him. Similarly, Jekyll’s
denial of Mr. Hyde’s existence begins to foretell his isolation. As Jekyll and
Utterson converse about Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll pleads that it “is a private
matter” and Utterson should “let it sleep” (Stevenson, 20).  Jekyll begins to distance himself from Utterson
for fear he will discover his alter ego, Mr.
Hyde. Dr. Jekyll’s isolates himself from the outside world as he is not seen
for weeks at a time. Jekyll becomes increasingly sick during his solitude as he
indulges in frequent doses of his potion to stop himself from becoming Hyde
permanently. As Jekyll reaches a certain state of solitude, he enters intervals
of reckless behavior which continues to
worsen his phycological state as he cuts himself off from those who care about
him. Ultimately, remoteness destroys Jekyll as Hyde becomes stronger than
Jekyll, causing his evil side to take control which results in the death of
both. Therefore, Dr. Jekyll and Victor Frankenstein segregate themselves from
society as they delve into forbidden science. Additionally, both novels display
each protagonist as a Byronic hero.

The
implementation of certain character qualities epitomizes the idea of the Byronic
hero. Victor embodies the Byronic hero as he is self-serving, reckless, and
ignorant. After the monster locates Victor, he requests Victor create a female
being for him, and in exchange, he will take refuge elsewhere. Victor agrees
but later reasons that “she may become ten thousand times more malignant than
her mate … and may refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation”
(170).  The destruction of the female
being showcases his selfish tendencies. Victor acts upon his impulse and destroys
the female being without considering the safety of those around him. Frankenstein’s
destruction of the female unleashes the creature’s
wrath which ensues in the murders of those he loves. The creature has no chance
of evading his solitude and as a result, imposes all the calamities he can
bring about towards Frankenstein. As a result, Victor must resolve the horrors
of those he loves by destroying the creature; essentially at the cost of his
own life. Likewise, Dr. Jekyll epitomizes the Byronic hero as he is violent and
reckless in nature. Nearly a year after Utterson visits Jekyll, London witnesses
a gruesome crime committed by Mr. Hyde. The witness of the crime explains that
“Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and beat Sir Danvers Carew to the Earth. Afterwards
… with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under his foot, and hailing
down a storm of blows” (Stevenson, 21-22). Dr. Jekyll inadvertently transforms
into Hyde and is unable to control his evil desires. Sir Danvers Carew is the violently
slain as he is the opposite of Hyde. Hyde murders Carew as he just member of parliament
who is pleasant in appearance; attributes which directly oppose those of Hyde. As
time passes, Dr. Jekyll finds it increasingly difficult to control Mr. Hyde and
fears that his inner evil will eventually take over. Dr. Jekyll embodies the
Byronic hero as he physically manifests his split personality which eventually
leads to violence and chaos. Thus, Dr. Jekyll and Victor Frankenstein signify
the Byronic hero due to their character qualities.

In conclusion, both authors make use of comparable
techniques to demonstrate the importance of gothic elements and their influence
on people. The adoration of science symbolizes the theme of the mysterious and
the supernatural. Furthermore, the
study of forbidden knowledge illustrates the negative effects of isolation. In addition,
both authors implement certain character qualities which aid in the portrayal of
the Byronic hero. Often, certain individuals are relegated in society as their ideology lies outside acceptable
moral views.

Work Cited

Shelley
Mary. Frankenstein. Maurice Hindle,
Penguin Classics, 2003.

Stevenson,
Robert L. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror.                  Robert Mighall, Penguin
Classics, 2003.

 

           

 

Categories: Emotions

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