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Hyde’s Deformity: The Literary Myth of the Fallen Protohuman
AbstractDrawing from a variety of examples in world literature, this paper exposits a pervasive, diachronic literary motif in which an early human—the mythic protohuman—exists superior to contemporary humans, whose greatness is reflected in physical stature and aesthetic form, and whose eventual spiritual “fall” is physically manifested in diminished stature and deformity. Indo-European creation myths, the biblical Genesis, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and Tolkien’s Middle Earth legendaria are examined in support of the thesis that Western literature has recapitulated the mythological notion that the archetypal ancestor possessed a quality and grace that has been slowly lost in time and is represented by a corresponding physical decay. This notion, then, when read as anagogical symbol, serves to furnish society with insights into reiterated social constructs preoccupied with human degeneration and decay, as well as questions about its beliefs concerning humankind’s origin, nature, and destiny.
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Webb, W.M. Hyde’s Deformity: The Literary Myth of the Fallen Protohuman. Humanities 2014, 3, 59-70.View more citation formats
Webb WM. Hyde’s Deformity: The Literary Myth of the Fallen Protohuman. Humanities. 2014; 3(1):59-70.Chicago/Turabian Style
Webb, William M. 2014. "Hyde’s Deformity: The Literary Myth of the Fallen Protohuman." Humanities 3, no. 1: 59-70.
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