Hochgeladen von Nutzer10312

Robert Louis Stevenson Writer of Boundaries

“The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Stevenson = metaphor for the duplicatous self.
The categorical tradition of the good/bad, normal/deviant construction of the subject is revealed in
the attempts to fix Hyde’s identity.
Hyde = figure of perverse violence and male sexuality; frightful blurring of gender roles;
degenerate; embodiment of the horror of addiction; atavistic criminal who passes as a gentleman;
something other than Jekyll; something other than the gentlemanly medico-juridico-scientific
The gentlemanly cast is depicted through the respected and professional men in the text
# Hyde is the dark side of the bourgeois professional man: he is different, out of control, anarchist.
The problem of Hyde originates in the will of Jekyll which bothers Utterson.
In late-Victorian London the medico-juridico-scientific world relied upon its perceived authority to
control representations of identity by looking and constructing a discourse of visual description,
BUT Hyde defies visual description in the narrative.
He disrupts the authoritative gaze + he
remains unspoken.
Crisis of representation through a misrecognition of Hyde + dislocation of
deviance from Hyde’s body onto the text.
What is hysterical and deviant about “The strange
case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is the normative ideological practice of invisibility and silence that
enshroud the text (the need to identify Victorian bodies is linked with the discourse of
degeneration); in Stevenson’s novella the professional world struggles to mantain its authority
through its own controlling invisibility and silence.
Utterson’s quest is akin to late 19th century medical and scientific attempts to give the deviant body
analytical, visible and permanent reality; Hyde must be made visible to Utterson who has a curiosity
to behold the features of the real Mr. Hyde.
The act of seeking to find a deviant body reinforces
the myth of the unrepresentability of the normal in the authoritative gaze.
All of the gentlemen in the text have a vague and unspecified past that threatens scandal.
The anxiety in the text is located in trying to contain the paradox of Hyde as same because Hyde
is a gentleman (when he trampled calmly over a girl Enfield and the doctor threaten to make a
scandal out of this because they assume Hyde speaks their own language as only a gentleman would
regard a scandal as a serious threat).
“The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” = realm of a masculine discourse: it represents men
and sexuality and the emergence of the hidden male (animal, criminal, perversion); it attempts to
render the normal male invisible and silent so that he may retain the authority of defining what is
deviant and other, BUT the tet’s attempts to preserve the medico-juridico-scientific codes of
invisibility and silence fail
they erupt in the sexual and the hysterical.
Hysteria (primarily located within the female body) = 1st step toward degeneration; there is a
link between masculine hysteri and language
the hysteric man shows an utter inability to resist
suggestion via language.
“The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” attempts to read Hyde as other, BUT the narrative is
an imperfect act of containment; the text seeks to build a prisonhouse of language around Hyde
it provides him the means to escape.
Scattered throughout the narrative is a Hyde who defies
Descriptions are de-articulation of Hyde; although his physique is described, there is
still some unexplained and unstated vagueness.
The linking of the aberrant to the ineffable, the
pathological to the unspoken suggests that what makes Hyde’s unexpressed deformity so scandalous
is that it remains unexpressed.
At the end of the 1st chapter Utterson and Enfield make a pact of silence regarding anything to do
with Hyde.
This passage sets up the entire text’s attempt at silence.
In an attempt to negotiate this pact of silence with the anxious need to identify Hyde, the
spoken becomes displaced into the written forms: official / authoritative documents seek to contain
and identify Hyde; Hyde is not being spoken, is transferred into the act of writing. The professional
world will not speak Hyde and so they attempt to transcribe him into a graphic representation that
they alone write and read (after witnessing the metamorphosis of Hyde into Jekyll, Lanyon becomes
ill and insists upon not speaking).
In constructing Hyde, the medico-juridico-scientific world ot Utterson threatens to be
deconstructed, un-represented and denaturalized as normative by exposing the perverse relationship
patriarchy has with identity.
In the South Seas Stevenson’s writing, photographic images and sense of place relied upon the
manner in which the lights cast shadows. From Stevenson’s point of view darkness serves as the
foundation of seeing.
In his South Seas writings Stevenson positions himself and his reader in a landscape oriented by
lights shining in the darkness.
His coming to the South Seas led him back to the landscape of his
childhood where the stars and the oil and gas lamps still held dominion.
Stevenson’s appreciation for the sight of a light penetrating the darkness forms the letters of his
the contrast of strong, black lines upon a white sheet of paper create a kind of vocabulary
with which to delineate and realize what he sees (these images give Stevenson lines, ink and
letters); the prospect of light against darkness helps him describe what he has never seen before and
to articulate what at that moment was ‘a virginity of sense’; Stevenson’s fiction and imagination
thrive upon the alternating, uneven dispersal of light and darknes; his characters seem to step out of
the shadows onto the brightness of the page.
This stimulates Stevenson to explore the mistery and enter areas where there are the unknown,
the hidden, the unseen, the unarticulated.
The narrative’s backdrop of contrasting light and darkness carries on what had been essential to
“The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” where most of the action plays on a shadowy set
occasionally illuminated by a flame from a fire, the glimmer of a gas lamp, or the rays of the moon,
and where Hyde prowls at night.
Stevenson’s style expecially in the first part, written from Utterson’s perspective, represents this
fragmented / partially lit perspective.
Within Stevenson’s metonymic field of vision partial images come one by one between intervals of
darkness (es. the scrolls of lighted pictures that run through Utterson’s mind when he recalls what
Enfield has told him about Hyde) as in Stevenson’s imagination shadows are what animate their
source, they infuse what they represent with life, dimension, and possibility.
Photography was part of Stevenson’s fascination with the intermittent light and shadows that helped
articulate the life around him.
The photographs were to be used as llustrations for Stevenson’s
writing about the South Seas; they were a means of legitimizing or illuminating his words and of
giving his readers a more genuine image to consider. The pages of his fiction often seem to develop
from a photographic negative.
Stevenson knew, though, that as much as he attempted to collect data, learn, observe, it was
impossible to grasp the variety and the complexity of what was before him; no matter how
diligently he read, listened and watched, he could do little more than offer a partial, imperfect
representation of his experiences.
The resulting text honors the unknown, the unseen, and the unspoken as well as episodes of
insight + chapter titles suggest the incompleteness and the discontinuity of knowledge and
Complete illumination is neither possible nor desiderable as for Stevenson darkness
is the foundation of seeing and knowing; in Stevenson it is the dark, obscure moment that brings to
view an event, a sighting, a consequence.
Without the dark, light is without significance; in
Stevenson light is incidental to darkness (in “The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”
character, event, and revelation cannot exist without the background of night and shadow).
+ Stevenson built his texts as if they were lighthouses whose intermittent beams shone upon
unchartled isles and seas; his words guide readers through the unknown and as the lenses of his
understanding turn and the text proceeds what was not visible emerges and as the hours keep
running the images disappear back into shadow and invisibility.
These alternations convey
Stevenson’s sense that a full, resplendent, all-encompassing brilliance is not necessarily desiderable.
Stevenson in building lighthouses out of his prose brought his life back to when he was a young
boy. His continuing awareness of the way light, darkness and shadow alternate is testimony to that
return; his images of intermittent light carried on and renewed what had been undertaken by earlier
generations; his metaphor of lighting up the darkness recalled a precedent entrenched in in
Stevenson’s perception of his world.