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The Suppression of Victorian Gentlemen Behavior in Stevenson’s Curiosity and Suppressed Behavior Mr. Utterson and Dr. Jekyll exude curiosity in the novella.

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Presentation on theme: "The Suppression of Victorian Gentlemen Behavior in Stevenson’s Curiosity and Suppressed Behavior Mr. Utterson and Dr. Jekyll exude curiosity in the novella."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Suppression of Victorian Gentlemen Behavior in Stevenson’s Curiosity and Suppressed Behavior Mr. Utterson and Dr. Jekyll exude curiosity in the novella. For example, throughout the novel, Utterson itches with curiosity, as he constantly wonders about the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Yet, he tries to suppress his un-gentleman like thinking. After all, a gentleman would never pry into the personal life of another gentleman. Yet, finally, Utterson gives in to the curiosity, thinking to himself, “If he be Mr. Hyde…I shall be Mr. Seek” (Stevenson 71). On a much greater scale, Dr. Jekyll’s curiosity ultimately leads to his demise. Jekyll grows curious about creating an alter ego that would allow him to have the best of both worlds. In his statement, Jekyll expresses his awareness of duality in human nature. He states, “If each, I told myself, could be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable” (Stevenson 108). Therefore, Jekyll converted his curiosity into action. When the results went haywire, he tried to suppressed his two personalities from the world, reflecting Victorian society’s disapproval of unconventional behavior. Curiosity in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: An Overview Stevenson’s novel takes place in 19th century London, as an upright gentleman, Mr. Utterson, becomes increasingly concerned with the unusual behavior of his dear friend, Dr. Jekyll. As his curiosity increases, Utterson secretly desires to thoroughly investigate the reasons for his friend’s odd disposition; however, he is bound by the social protocol of Victorian gentlemen, which prevents any type of erratic or irrational behavior. Stevenson uses the concept of curiosity to briefly introduce the idea that there may be more to Victorian men than initially meets the eye. Though Dr. Jekyll is the ultimate product of curiosity gone awry, hints of curiosity may also be seen in the character of Mr. Utterson. In my research paper, I analyze both the essential characteristics of Victorian gentlemen as well as the reoccurring idea of curiosity in the novel in order to better understand the suppression of personality traits in men during the 19th century. Critical Insight into Middle Class Behavior Critic Stephen Arata introduces the idea of Mr. Hyde being an atavistic character. The fact that Mr. Hyde is not only atavistic, but also a middle-class gentleman, reveals Stevenson’s adverse perspective of the middle- class. Arata states, “Edward Hyde may not be an image of the upright bourgeois male, but he is decidedly and image of the bourgeois male” (Arata 3). Fundamentally, Arata implies that Stevenson’s novel is expressing the idea that the middle-class itself is the immoral society. Stevenson relates this belief by portraying a middle-class gentleman as atavistic. Middle-class men felt the need to suppress their true behavior in order to maintain their “upright” reputation in Victorian society. Presenter: Kelli Jacobs Characteristics of Victorian Gentlemen. Not only were Victorian gentlemen defined by their wealth or impressive lineage, but they were also required to behave within the understood moral guidelines set in place by the middle class. When describing the characteristics of the middle class, Atlick says, “It was the middle-class orientation and code of values that lent the Victorian social climate its distinctive flavor. Its moral ideology…embraced the values to which most Victorians, even including some aristocrats…subscribed” (Altick 28). In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Mr. Enfield, Mr. Utterson’s friend, verbalizes the appropriate behavior of a gentleman in a circumstance that could create escalated curiosity. He states, “No sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask” (Stevenson 66). At the moment, Utterson agrees with his gentleman friend. Utterson’s attempt to suppress his interest in Jekyll’s situation demonstrates the pursuit of curiosity as inappropriate behavior for gentlemen. Works Cited Altick, Richard. Victorian People and Ideas: A companion for the modern reader of Victorian Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., Print. Arata, Stephen D. “The Sedulous Ape: Atavism, Professionalism, and Stevenson’s ‘Jekyll and Hyde.’” Criticism 37.2 (1995): Web. 12 March Stevenson, Robert Louis. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Ed. Susan J. Wolfson and Barry V. Qualls. New York: Pearson/Longman, Print. English, Theatre & Foreign Languages Mentor: Dr. Susan Cannata uble-exposure-photograph-richard.html


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