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Homosexuality in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

             Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson's famed novel "The Strange Case of Dr. Hyde," is an interesting one on several levels. Dr. Jekyll created Mr. Hyde so he could fulfill instinctual desires that were considered wrong in his society without criticism or blame. The question readers often have is why Dr. Jekyll felt so compelled to carry out these wrong doings in the first place. Many academics have written on the subject, providing a vast array of different arguments. The articles that I found most compelling were the ones that concluded Dr. Jekyll was gay. Two such articles were "Silent Homosexuality in Oscar Wilde's Teleny and The Picture of Dorian Gray and Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Antonio Sanna and "Freudian Commentary on the Parallels of the Male Homosexual Analysand to Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by James E. Phelan. The authors had similar arguments in that Dr. Jekyll needed Hyde because he was gay, but the conclusions they came to were quite different. Sanna argued that Jekyll created Hyde to act on his homosexual urges. Phelan, on the other hand, claims the creation stemmed from Jekyll's hatred for being gay, and he desired to be someone whose personality was in complete contrast with his former self. While both authors had their fair share of strong points, I took slight issue with both. Based on the book and both articles it appears Dr. Jekyll found no joy in living as a homosexual nor as a low life criminal, finding solace only in suicide.
             Sanna's argument is that the novel reflected society's silencing of homosexuality that was occurring during the late Victorian era- the time this book was written- and the struggles of homosexual males. Studies claiming homosexuality was an incurable disease with horrible symptoms condemned homosexuals to a life of secrecy and shame. One such study: "The sexologist Kraft-Ebing deemed it to be an 'incurable condition, which burdens its victims, socially, morally and mentally" (22).

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