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1. Introduction – Part 1
About this Lecture
In this module, we provide a broad introduction to the social, historical and cultural context to the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) the title of the novel – why is the ‘strange case’ of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?; (ii) the other novels that Stevenson wrote in this period, their immense popularity, and their relation to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; (iii) the influence of Darwin and his theory of evolution, and the idea that man has something animalistic in his nature; (iv) the influence on Stevenson of James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824); (v) the post-Reformation religious history of Scotland, especially the importance of Calvinism and Manicheanism; and (vi) the interest in Victorian novels in the contradiction between surface respectability and what lies beneath.
In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. In the first two modules, we provide a broad introduction to the social, historical, cultural context of the novel, focusing in particular on Stevenson’s life and career, his literary and cultural influences, and his own influence on later writers. In the seventeen modules that follow, we read through the novel chapter-by-chapter, providing close reading and analysis, including commentary on themes and motifs, the structure of the novel, its multiple narrators and narratives, significant objects (keys, doors, hands, mirrors, etc.), literary influences (Shakespeare, Marlowe, James Hogg, etc.), intellectual influences (Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud), important elements from Stevenson’s own life – and much, much more.
Note: Page numbers in these lectures refers to the Penguin Classics edition of the novel (‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror’, ed. Robert Mighall). Students using a different version of the novel may encounter slight differences in page numbering.
John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.
Cite this Lecture
McRae, J. (2020, October 22). Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Introduction – Part 1 [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/stevenson-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-mcrae/introduction-part-1
McRae, J. "Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Introduction – Part 1." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Oct 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/stevenson-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-mcrae/introduction-part-1