Nicki Buscemi, CMP 102
Essay #3: Examining The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Context
For your third essay, I am going to ask you to make an argument about Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within its larger Victorian context. To do this, you will look at the novella in terms of Victorian concerns regarding evolution, degeneration, class, and maintaining respectability outlined in the introduction to our edition and in the provided introductory video.
Robert Louis Stevenson was undoubtedly familiar with the widespread Victorian beliefs and fears regarding evolution and the possibility of degeneration, including the idea that humans and animals might not be that different and the idea that the lower classes were more prone to both violence and degeneration. In fact, his novella plays on these very fears and beliefs.
Your job in this essay is to decide what Stevenson is trying to get the reader of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to think about beliefs like these. In other words, might Stevenson’s novella push readers to question the validity of one or more of these fears / beliefs or does the novella reinforce the accuracy of these fears / beliefs? Or, perhaps some combination of both?
In order to satisfy the requirements of the assignment, your paper must:
• include an argumentative thesis statement at the end of your introductory paragraph that responds to the underlined questions above.
• bring in specific paraphrases and quotes from outside sources to introduce the historical topics on which you’ll be focusing.
The following are resources you can draw on for establishing historical background:
my video introductions to the Victorian period and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde;
parts of the introduction we’ve read together;
historical background discussed in the resources you find using our LibGuide;
optional additional resources: materials found in the appendices at the back of our book In these appendices, there are excerpts from Victorian writings about “Degeneration and Crime” (155-65), “London in the 1880s” (167-76), and “The Victorian Gentleman: Body and Clothing” (207-25).
• include information from at least one source found using our library’s catalogs or databases (a LibGuide will be provided for assistance with this).
• include specific quotes from the novella (in conjunction with quotes and paraphrases from your outside sources) to back up your thesis statement.
• smoothly incorporate these pieces of evidence and explain their significance—this means following the steps for effectively sandwiching quotes and paraphrases within your own writing.
• end your essay with a concluding paragraph that wraps up your argument for your reader.
• use proper MLA citation when quoting from the novella and outside sources (see RWL, the Purdue OWL website, and our LibGuide).
Failure to properly cite direct quotes or even ideas drawn from outside sources—including more general websites—constitutes plagiarism. The minimum penalty for plagiarism in this class is an F on the assignment. If you have any questions about how to properly acknowledge a source, please ask.
Formatting Guideline Reminders for Major Essays
Your essays must be formatted according to the following requirements:
• typed in black ink, in Times New Roman font, size 12
• one-inch margins top and bottom; margins no wider than 1¼ inches left and right
• your name, my name, the date, course and section number on the first page (begin your essay on this page too; don’t waste space on a cover page)
• pages should be numbered
Do not use extra spaces between paragraphs when typing your papers!
Nicki Buscemi, CMP 102