Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in English



First Advisor

Rachel Hollander

Second Advisor

Steven Alvarez


“The Hyde Effect: A Commentary on Nineteenth-Century British Anxieties and the Literature Borne from Them” is a study of late nineteenth century British anxieties and how these fears are expressed in Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Industrialization paved the way for social mobility, while feminist ideals changed the trajectory of the future for women. These ever-changing ideals continued to challenge traditional masculinity. As England experienced advances in medical practice, people slowly shifted away from religion (in theory). Medical diagnoses became the outlet for ostracization towards the “Other” just as religion had previously done; in other words, “sin” became “mental illness.” I specifically explore Stevenson’s text, as it provides interesting concepts of masculinity and the threats that societal transition posed on traditional masculinity. I argue that repression fueled by religious guilt and the strain of moral governance caused intense backlash, especially on part of Mr. Hyde. In Jekyll’s attempt to imperialize the home front, he fails to recognize his own repressions. Mr. Hyde, the physical manifestation of Jekyll’s repressions, turns to criminal activity, such as rape and murder, and consistently walks away free from punishment. I examine Jekyll and Hyde as separate beings with a father/son relationship through “chemical reproduction.” By fashioning Mr. Hyde’s character, Stevenson means to signify the greater danger of continued moral governance.