The Concept of Human and Monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankensteın and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
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Human, as a concept, has always been at the center of the philosophical and artistic concerns in history. With the scientific developments achieved in the nineteenth century, new perspectives regarding the concept emerge by challenging the conventionally accepted anthropocentric view. Among the developments that prompt this perception, galvanism, dissection and the theory of evolution take a significant place. Although these nineteenth-century practices reject human centrality in understanding this relationship with other species, this anti-anthropocentric approach points at a relatively new theoretical frame: the theory of posthumanism. Principally the theory focuses on going beyond human by reinforcing a multispecies existence. The traces of posthumanism in these scientific practices are observed in the literary works of the nineteenth century period, as many English writers of the period explore the issue of human by reflecting the main ideas of this theory in their works. In addition to having features compatible with the idea of posthumanism, the nineteenth-century scientific developments also shed light on the concept of monstrosity in these literary works. In some of these works, it is observed that Darwin’s theory of evolution contributed to the formation of degeneration theory and consequently to the emergence of degenerate characters in literature. On the other hand, galvanism and dissection practices inspire the idea of creating a new species with human and animal body parts. In literary narratives, these degenerate beings and the new species created by the combination of different human and animal bodies, meet at the common point by projecting the theme of monstrosity. In this vein, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1831) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) serve as models to display this shared point. Therefore, this study aims to examine these novels by focusing on nineteenth-century scientific issues such as galvanism, dissection and theory of evolution and how these issues come together with the theme of monstrosity and the theory of posthumanism.