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Humanities 2014, 3(1), 59-70; doi:10.3390/h3010059

Hyde’s Deformity: The Literary Myth of the Fallen Protohuman

UAB Graduate School, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, SHEL 121, 1825 University Boulvard, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
Received: 1 January 2014 / Revised: 27 January 2014 / Accepted: 13 February 2014 / Published: 19 February 2014
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Abstract

Drawing 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.
Keywords: comparative mythology; archetypal literary criticism; comparative mythology; archetypal literary criticism; anagogical symbol; Stevenson; Swift comparative mythology; archetypal literary criticism; comparative mythology; archetypal literary criticism; anagogical symbol; Stevenson; Swift
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Webb, W.M. Hyde’s Deformity: The Literary Myth of the Fallen Protohuman. Humanities 2014, 3, 59-70.

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