"Man or Beast, I Could Not Tell" Duality and Degeneration in Four Victorian Fin-de-Siecle Novels
This thesis researches the relationship between four novels, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Sign of the Four, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Dracula, written in the fin-de-siècle (1880-1914), which are all explorations of the fear of degeneration of Victorian society. By comparing the morality of the characters with their degenerate doubles, a picture can be formed about anxieties regarding the stability of the human race in the Victorian era. The decline of the Empire and fear of the Other are also themes in the novels that are discussed here. To do this, the science of criminology developed in this era are used to show how physiognomy is used to convey degeneration and criminality in a character. Furthermore, because all the novels discussed are set in London, the capital of the Victorian Empire, and a city with a dual personality of its own, is also discussed in this light.
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