Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A Plague of the Wealthy: Degenerative Duality in Nordau and Stevenson College

According to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and many philosophers during the reformative Fin de Siècle era, human duality, a constant struggle between good and evil within a singular human is a natural phenomenon that prevails within all people, no matter the race, gender, sexuality, or financial well-being of said human. Yet, there is certainly a strong correlation present between the duality of humankind as a whole and the “social degeneration”[1] theory that becomes prevalent during the 19th century. Social degeneration, though, is a plague of the upper class, as those in the lower economic classes cannot afford to splurge toward their decadent natural desires. Thus, although every human may be capable of duality and social degeneration, it is only within the wealthy that the capabilities take form.

Social degeneration is known to affect only the wealthy, as stated by Max Simon Nordau. According to his book, Degeneration, “The peasant population, and a part of the working class and the bourgeoisie, are sound. I assert only the decay of rich inhabitants of great cities and the leading classes,”[2] meaning it’s only the rich who are infected because they have the means by which they can expressly satiate any...

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