Deformity In The Victorian Era

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The Victorian Era: a time where perfection was of the upmost important. A period where the ideal man or woman was what was to be expected and anything short of that was typically looked down upon. It was a standard to look beautiful and quaint, and this ideal was especially reflected in Victorian literature. From Jane Eyre being criticized that she is plain, to Lady Bracknell pointing out that Cecily is sadly simple, a person’s viewpoint on another was crucial, and no author was able to tackle this aspect better than Robert Louis Stevenson. In his novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Mr. Hyde’s appearance and how others view him is taken to the extreme. He is a deformed man, yet no one can outright express how deformed he looks, only that he has a sense of deformity. In an age where people judged others based on their looks rather than their character, Mr. Hyde’s appearance is able to show that Victorians were both…show more content…
Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution only added to the hysteria as people started to believe that if humans could evolve, they could possibly devolve too. Victorians viewed deformity as a form of regression, so many people feared Mr. Hyde because they did not want to end up like him. They believed that if they were to surround themselves around him, they too would develop “ape-like” features and tendencies (Stevenson 25). A wall was put between the normal and the abnormal as Victorians feared that they could be exposed to deformities and invade their bloodline simply by being in the same room with someone. Victorians wanted a separation between them and the “freaks” because this realization that anyone could become Mr. Hyde was terrifying. Society shunned and hated them because aristocrats believed that is what they could become if they strayed from the righteous path. This scene when Mr. Enfield first meets Mr. Hyde expresses that ideal perfectly, replying to Mr. Utterson
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