In Anna Stiles article Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Jekyll and Hyde” and the Double Brain, Stiles discusses how Stevenson may have been influenced by the “late-Victorian ideas about the brain as a double organ” (894). Stiles argues that these ideas influenced Stevenson’s portrayal of the conflict between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stiles also, however, discusses the relationship between the Gothic and the format of the text as a case study. Stiles highlights that “the Gothic emphasis on psychological interiority and emotion may seem at odds with the eminently rational aims of the scientific case study” (888).
Despite these seemingly disparate genres, Stiles points out that the elements of the Gothic and scientific case study are actually interconnected. The text’s format adheres to the traditional conventions of a case study while implementing Gothic elements and using subjective narrative voice to blur the lines between fact and fiction. Ultimately, Stiles argues that the combination of these two genres parallels the double brain of Dr. Jekyll; Stiles states, “ The logical, left brain perspective of science combines with the primitive, emotional, right-brain perspective of the Gothic, demonstrating how Stevenson incorporates the polarities of the dual-brain theory into the literary form of his famous novella” (891).
Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reminded me, in many ways, of Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone. They both have elements of mystery and Gothicism and they both take the form of a case study that relies on both science and subjective narrative perspectives. The idea that Stevenson combines both aspects of science and with the romantic elements of the Gothic reminds me of The Moonstone. In my last blog post, I questioned the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity in the text. I also relayed Lewis Robert’s article, “The ‘Shivering Sands’ of Reality: Narration and Knowledge in Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone,” that explored this question; Roberts states, “For Collins, realism is not only a process of scientific discovery in which everything can be explained, in which all secrets will be revealed and all revelations will be apparent; but also, realism is a state of recognition of the complexities and the mysteries involved in ‘knowing’ anything” (177). Roberts highlights the interconnectedness between the binaries in the text; Stiles argues a similar point.
For me, there is a key difference between the two texts. In The Moonstone, the multiple views of narration seems to add to the mystery, while in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both “Dr. Lanyon’s narrative” and “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case” literally solve the case and answer the mystery. I wonder if this difference highlights a difference in views of Stevenson and Collins concerning the relationship between subjectivity and science.