The Differing Views on the Nature of Men in Mary Shelley’s Novel Frankenstein, Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Novel Jekyll and Hyde, and the Christian Bible

Last Updated: 21 Dec 2022
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Worldview is one of the many things shown in an author's writings, and works. Mary Shelly and Robert Lewis Stevenson both express their unique worldviews in their novels. Shelly‘s view of man in Frankenstein and Stevenson's in Jekyll and Hyde are prime examples of how worldview can affect many books, movies, and media culture, given that both of these famous writings branched out and later became popular movies and television shows. Although entertaining, there are some faults within each of these author's worldview concerning mankind. Shelly and Stevenson's worldview are different from the Bible because while they both recognize evil in today's world, they either fail to understand where it comes from or do not grasp that there is a way to be saved from it Shelly believes that mankind is created virtuous, benevolent and becomes evil by society's actions.

Shelly view of society corrupting man is constantly pushed throughout Frankenstein, Shelly writes, "unfortunately, they are prejudiced against me. I have good dispositions; my life has been hitherto harmless, and in some degree beneficial; but a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster” (Shelly 144). Shelly believes that when born, or in the monster‘s case created, our human nature is not flawed in any way, We are not stained with sin, we are innocent. They monster even believed this. To Shelly, when a person opens their eyes for the first time in their life, they are a blank canvas for the world and society to draw on, either for good or for bad. Shelly believes that society is responsible for the corruption of mankind.

Shelly’s novel says, ”There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No; from that moment, I declared everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery” (Shelly 146). The monster’s rejection from society hardened his heart and made him evil. As the monster continues to interact with people and “society” continues to reject him, the reader will notice how he becomes full of hatred and anger, This, according to Shelly, is society‘s doing. Because other people rejected the monster, he feels like it is their fault he is full of evil. Shelly writes her characters in Frankenstein in a very grim situation, because to her, everything that is happening to them is simply not their fault. Stevenson presents a different view of man's nature than Shelly does and shows this in Jekyll and Hyde.

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Mankind, to Stevenson, is not truly one but two. Mankind is both good and evil. in chapter eight the author shows the evil inside of Jekyll/ Hyde taking over. He writes, "Instantly the spirit of hell awoke in me and raged. With a transport of glee, I mauled the unresisting body, tasting delight from every blow; and it was not till weariness had begun to succeed, that I was suddenly, in the top fit of my delirium, struck through the heart by a cold thrill of terror" (Stevenson 27). Stevenson doesn't shy away from showing the evil side of mankind, Unlike Shelly, he never attempts to blame anyone else for man's nature, Jekyll‘s evil nature leads him to attempt to split his personalities so that he could sin in secret while preserving his reputation.

While Jekyll does successfully do so, evil takes over. Stevenson seems to believe that evil is more powerful than good and that there is nothing that can save mankind from this. The book reads in chapter eight, ”There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul. And yet I was not alarmed; the fall seemed natural" (Stevenson 98). Jekyll's battle with his evil side takes a toll on his good/light side and eventually kills it. Even though this is the case with Henry Jekyll, this is not the fate of other characters in the book. The right side of humanity is shown in Mr. Utterson when he tries to help the doctor throughout the book. But once again evil prevails when the Doctor lets the evil side take over.

Stevenson, like Shelly, never provides any type of redemption or saving for mankind in His book. The Biblical teaching of man's nature differs from both Shelly and Stevenson's ideas but is closer to Stevenson's view. Mary Shelly's interpretation of evil being a learned characteristic coming from outside of man is not a correct view according to the Bible. The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (NlV Jeremiah 17:9). The Bible doesn't say ”society is deceitful” it says the heart is deceitful and evil, Society is made up of people so for Shelly to blame "society" for other people's evil nature, she is pretty much just saying other people are evil. This constant painting of fingers just doesn't make sense.

The Bible recognizes the inward evil that Stevenson shows, but not only does the Bible point out evil, it tells how mankind can be redeemed from it. Neither Stevenson or Shelly does this. In the book of Titus, the author writes, "who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good“ (NlV Titus 2:14). Not only does the Bible show that we are redeemed from our sins, it also informs us that because of this we should be filled with joy, and ”eager to do what is good.” Because neither Shelly or Stevenson focus on this in their books, both of the writing come off as depressing, hopeless, pieces of work, Mary Shelly, Robert Stevenson, and the Bible do not completely mix. They may seem to present the similar views but when boiled down to the main ideas (or “starting points”) they really don‘t.

The Bible isn’t about getting revenge, blaming people, or accepting our miserable fate like in Frankenstein, and it isn't about letting our evil side take over, like in Jekyll and Hyde, The Bible is about a concept that neither Shelly nor Stevenson seemed to grasp, redemption from evil. Stevenson's characters are mainly focused around evil, not redemption. Shelly’s characters are focused around revenge, not forgiveness. Neither of the authors completely present a correct view of man. Not only does the Bible present a correct worldview of man, it also presents ahappier and more positive ending, Mankind does not have to live in their sinful misery like they do in Frankenstein or Jekyll and Hyde, we have been offered a gift of redemption, and now all we have to do it take it.

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The Differing Views on the Nature of Men in Mary Shelley’s Novel Frankenstein, Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Novel Jekyll and Hyde, and the Christian Bible. (2022, Dec 21). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/the-differing-views-on-the-nature-of-men-in-mary-shelleys-novel-frankenstein-robert-lewis-stevensons-novel-jekyll-and-hyde-and-the-christian-bible/

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