Azer Banu Kemaloğlu (Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010

‘Relocating Stevenson: From a Victorian to a Post/Modern World’

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) appears to be a Victorian novel.  Yet, the highly acclaimed novel experiments on traditional concept of dualism and rejects the notion of dependent entities within a single body.  Stevenson portrays two separate bodies embodying two separate attributes of human beings constantly in fight over power.  Aware of the inherent evil and good in his existential self, Dr. Jekyll uses his medicinal expertise to prepare a concoction and frees the evil part from the good one.  Although he aims to free his better self from the effects of the evil, Dr. Jekyll starts taking pleasure from the newly discovered body of Edward Hyde.  Evil dominates and Stevenson’s modernist experiment to better human society fails.

In this respect, Stevenson shows that modernism’s faith in science and technological progress is tragically misguided.  Furthermore, modernist assumptions about the perfectibility of mankind are perverted as the novel rejects the relationship between reality and appearance, and celebrates a postmodern duality.  As Frederic Jameson argues, so-called reality of modernism is actually an appearance or a representation in postmodernism.  At this point, taking from Jameson’s argument that postmodernism rejects essence versus reality, the aim of this paper is to examine the fluctuations of Stevenson’s place between modernist and postmodernist ideologies.  Since there is no fixed reference or stability in postmodern condition or postmodern temporality, Stevenson challenges the values of Western culture and belief as a whole.  As a consequence, the fragmented selves of a single body and multiple narratives of the novel further explicate the fragmented place of Stevenson within a single ideology and condition.

Categorized as Abstracts

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