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Labyrinths of DeceitCulture, Modernity and Identity in the Nineteenth Century$
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Richard J. Walker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780853238492

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315404

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He, I say – I cannot say, I: Robert Louis Stevenson's strange case

He, I say – I cannot say, I: Robert Louis Stevenson's strange case

Chapter:
(p.68) 2 He, I say – I cannot say, I: Robert Louis Stevenson's strange case
Source:
Labyrinths of Deceit
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846315404.004

Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, tackles the impact of a late nineteenth-century metropolis and its institutions upon identity. It echoes the elements of the barbarism found in early manifestations of the Gothic genre and relocates it in the modern city in the hyper-civilised and genteel world of fin de siècle England. Particularly in the context of British imperialism, the presence of Hyde represents a reversion to savagery in an apparently unlikely location. The novel also reflects the fragile discourse of degeneration theory and seems to speak more about the fears and the anxieties of the fin de siècle bourgeoisie than monstrosity in general. Stevenson's Gothic vision is rendered distinctive by the consistent intrusion of the elements and symptoms of nineteenth-century modernity, which also highlights the symbolic resonance of the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde.

Keywords:   Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, modernity, identity, barbarism, savagery, monstrosity, bourgeoisie, degeneration theory, imperialism

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