Scientific development in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Science flasks

In the Victorian era, religion was important to communities and individuals. Many people believed that God created the universe and he was the sole creator, therefore the principles and the word of the Bible must be followed.

Due to the society's interest in religion, people were afraid of scientific developments and feared what this would do to mankind. Charles Darwin wrote the Origins of the Species in 1859. It was a text that shook Victorian society and was condemned and banned due to its theory that God had not created the universe as outlined in the Bible. Consequently, people were cautious of science and its developments.

How is the theme of scientific development shown in the novel?

In Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson shows the fear of scientific development through:

  • Dr Jekyll's scientific experiments
  • how the experiment goes badly wrong
  • how Dr Lanyon fears the experiment
How does Stevenson show this?EvidenceAnalysis
Dr JekyllJekyll is relentless in his goals to complete the experiment of releasing his hidden self, ie Mr Hyde. He stops at nothing to achieve his goals and doesn't listen to his friends. "I wish to see or hear no more of Dr Jekyll… I am quite done with that person; and I beg you will spare me any allusion to one whom I regard as dead." - Dr Lanyon.Stevenson presents Lanyon's emotions very clearly in this section - one of Jekyll's oldest friends views him as 'dead' due to what he has done. The language Stevenson uses is charged with passion and emotion. The repetition of 'I' illustrates that Lanyon feels he is in control of the situation and has control over Jekyll.
The experimentDr Jekyll's experiment kills him, as he has to die in order for the overpowering Mr Hyde to die also....there lay the body of a man sorely contorted and still twitching.This shows that Jekyll eventually killed himself as his desire to experiment made Mr Hyde get stronger. The use of the phrase 'sorely contorted' illustrates how science changed who Jekyll was and who he became. It 'contorted' his very self.
Dr LanyonDr Lanyon dies of shock because of what he has witnessed – he sees Mr Hyde turning into Dr Jekyll.A week afterwards Dr Lanyon took to his bed, and in something less than a fortnight he was dead.The short time period of a week illustrates how quickly Dr Lanyon’s health deteriorated because of Dr Jekyll's revelation.

Analysing the evidence


How is the wonder of scientific development shown in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

  • Utterson's 'amazement' at what Jekyll has achieved.
  • Dr Jekyll's passion to complete his experiment.
  • The experiment itself.