Article Title

Out of Bounds: The Mad Scientist Figure in the Nineteenth Century


This paper examines the figure of the scientist in nineteenth century England. It argues that this figure encroaches upon religious territory by examining both real-life scientists (Darwin and his contemporaries) and their literary counterparts, as found in Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Richard Marsh’s The Beetle. These sources— contextualized by the development of Christianity and the Self/Other mode of thinking it enforces—reveal scientific paranoia as concern not over the consequences of scientific exploration, but rather the fear of a god-like figure who can unite previously divinely separated entities like man and animal. Through this figure, then, science in the nineteenth century becomes a new form of religion powerful enough to affect a paradigm shift in belief that echoes the original shift of Judeo-Christian religion away from the ‘pagan’ polytheistic belief systems.

JESSICA W. MACDONALD graduated from Huron University College in 2015 with an Honours Specialization in English Language and Literature. After working briefly in the financial sector, she is currently exploring her graduate-level education options with regard to an MBA or Masters of English.

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