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The aspects of ethics and morals tend to focus on human conduct which can either be “right” or “wrong.” Even though people tend to use these terms interchangeably, they are entirely different. Ethics entails the rules which are provided by an external force say an organization or religion, whereas morals are an individual’s unique principles with regards to what can be termed as right or wrong. The current social standards of morality and propriety can be traced back from the Victorian era. The era refers to a time when there were strict rules which human being had to adhere. The moral conduct entailed some practices including sexual restraint, no criminal activities, honesty, and a sense of care and duty to those who were not well off in the society (Paradis, James and George 2014). Therefore, this paper deals with the monsters in Dracula and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The paper analyzes why they are regarded as the horrifying evaluating aspect of violence and their threat to social standards of morality and propriety.
Throughout the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the narrator expresses the duality of a human being where everyone is regarded to have a dark side which is evil and hidden which waits to be triggered by specific events (Stevenson 2005). However, human beings try to pretend that the negative side does not exist and they hide it from others in the society. The theme is illustrated by two protagonists Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who are description of one side (Stevenson 2005). The first character is the rational side of the person who is an upper class and practices the Victorian morality is known as Dr. Jekyll. The other person is a deformed man who signifies the aspect of evil and is known as Hyde. One issue of Victorian morality is where the excellent character is termed to be beautiful, and the evil one is referred to as ugly.
Mr. Hyde is termed as being ugly and wicked-looking whereas another aspect such as Sir Danvers Carew is described as being aged and beautiful (Stevenson 2005). Therefore, Mr. Hyde was very aggressive and did not adhere to morals. He is excited by violence and death. Thus, the book goes against the Victorian society where the primary focus is on goodness, and the acts of Hyde are unacceptable. Hyde represents a less civilized and more violent nature of human beings. Therefore, Hyde appears whenever Jekyll recalls his evil deeds. He is unable to control the two individuals, and as such in one of the scenes he falls asleep as Dr. Jekyll and wakes up in the form of Mr. Hyde (Stevenson 2005). Therefore, in the end, he commits suicide because he feels guilty of the evil actions but is not able to control them.
In Dracula, by Bram Stroker, the author focuses on the nature of good and evil. The narrator explains that Dracula has the intention of traveling to London to accomplish his mission of turning everyone into a vampire (Stoker, Bram, and Leonard Wolf 1975). The book explains how Jonathan Harker who is a realtor is sent to Transylvania to complete a transaction with Dracula. When Harker makes his way into Bistriz arrives at night when evil is pervasive. Hacker is interested in superstition in the area and notices that a particular woman is terrified when the name “Dracula” is mentioned. The woman offers Harker a gift of rosary which she claims would protect him. When Harker receives the present, he is afraid to visit Borgo pass where he is supposed to meet with Dracula the following day (Stoker, Bram, and Leonard Wolf 1975).
In the novel vampire, Dracula is very evil. There are members of the Crew of light which is a group of people who are committed to destroying Dracula and are referred to as being right. Therefore, even though various members of the crew commit mistakes, yet this is justified by the fact that their intentions were good.
The novel thus focuses on aspects of lust, sex, and evil as expressed in the 20th century in a conservative society. The book focuses on the resistance of temptation which is compared to the act of tasting the forbidden fruit. The book also touches on the subject of homosexuality which was discouraged at the time. There were also concerns with regards to the ladylike behavior expressed in the novel. There were Victorian standards set for ladies as they had to be pure, weak and have naïve innocence. Therefore, if a woman reversed the roles and became sexually aggressive and assertive, then her submissive dependence on men would be eliminated. In Dracula, when Lucy Western is “tainted” with evils of Dracula she is described as having a sense of “cold-bloodedness” which is contrary to the earlier description where she was regarded as being loving and virtuous when she was conservative (Stoker, Bram, and Leonard Wolf 1975). The aspect of homosexuality is also brought about by the actions of Dracula by his penetrating and sucking blood which symbolizes the home sexual acts.
The two novels prick the Victorian morality which was being advocated in the 19th and 20th century. The books triggers the readers into thinking that probably evil were a part of human beings. Perhaps a good person could be evil when exposed to some factors. The novels further question whether the morality nature expected from women is impractical and seeks to condemn them. The topic of homosexuality was also rare and discouraged in the society.
Paradis, James G., and George Christopher Williams. Evolution and Ethics: TH Huxley's Evolution and Ethics with New Essays on Its Victorian and Sociobiological Context. Princeton University Press, 2014.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Broadview Press, 2005.
Stoker, Bram, and Leonard Wolf. The Annotated Dracula: Dracula by Bram Stoker. Introduction Notes, and Bibliography by Leonard Wolf. Art by Satty. Clarkson N. Potter, 1975.
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