Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
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Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a novella written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and first published in 1886. It is about a London lawyer who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the misanthropic Edward Hyde. The work is known for its vivid portrayal of the psychopathology of a split personality; in mainstream culture the very phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" has come to signify wild or polar behaviour.
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was an immediate success and one of Stevenson's best-selling works. Stage adaptations began in Boston and London within a year of its publication and it has gone on to inspire scores of major film and stage performances.
In the early autumn of 1885 Stevenson's thoughts turned to the idea of the duality of man's nature, and how to incorporate the interplay of good and evil into a story. One night he had a dream, and on wakening had the idea for two or three scenes that would appear in the story. "In the small hours of one morning," says Mrs. Stevenson, "I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis. Thinking he had a nightmare, I awakened him. He said angrily 'Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.' I had awakened him at the first transformation scene."
Lloyd Osbourne, Stevenson's stepson, remembers "I don't believe that there was ever such a literary feat before as the writing of Dr. Jekyll. I remember the first reading as if it was yesterday. Louis came downstairs in a fever; read nearly half the book aloud; and then, while we were still gasping, he was away again, and busy writing. I doubt if the first draft took so long as three days."
As was the custom, Mrs Stevenson would read the draft and offer her criticisms in the margins. Louis was confined to bed at the time from a haemorrhage, and she left her comments with the manuscript and Louis in the bedroom. She said in effect the story was really an allegory, but Louis was writing it just as a story. After a while Louis called her back into the bedroom and pointed to a pile of ashes: he had burnt the manuscript in fear that he would try to salvage it, and in the process forcing himself to start over from scratch writing an allegorical story as she had suggested. Scholars debate if he really burnt his manuscript or not. Other scholars suggest her criticism was not about allegory, but about inappropriate sexual content. Whatever the case, there is no direct factual evidence for the burning of the manuscript, but it remains an integral part of the history of the novel.
Stevenson re-wrote the story again in three days. According to Osbourne "The mere physical feat was tremendous; and instead of harming him, it roused and cheered him inexpressibly." He refined and continued to work on it for 4 to 6 weeks afterward.
The manuscript was initially sold as a paperback for one shilling in the UK and one dollar in the USA. Initially stores would not stock it until a review appeared in The Times, on 25 January 1886, giving it a favourable reception. Within the next six months close to forty thousand copies were sold. By 1901 it was estimated have sold over 250,000 copies. Its success was probably due more to the "moral instincts of the public" than perception of its artistic merits, being widely read by those who never otherwise read fiction, quoted in pulpit sermons and in religious papers.
The story begins when the lawyer Gabriel John Utterson hears from his cousin Richard Enfield of an ambiguous, solitary, violent man called Hyde. This Hyde is said to have simply walked over a girl whom he met on the road, leaving her bruised and terrified; whereupon Enfield ordered him, backed by several other people, to pay a fine to the girl's family. Hearing this tale, Utterson is perturbed; a friend of his, Dr Henry Jekyll, has made a will declaring that in the event of the doctor's death or disappearance, Hyde should inherit all his property. Suspecting trouble, Utterson seeks to investigate Hyde.
This investigation begins as a matter of curiosity and concern despite Dr Jekyll's assurances that Hyde is nothing to worry about. That changes when Hyde is seen committing a savage murder of a respected Member of Parliament, Sir Danvers Carew. As Utterson assists in the investigation of the crime, Jekyll becomes more and more reclusive and sombre. This leads Utterson to believe that Hyde has some influence over Jekyll, which he is using to conceal himself.
Eventually, Jekyll isolates himself in his laboratory gripped with an emotional burden that no one can comprehend. Another friend of Utterson's, Dr. Hastie Lanyon, suddenly dies of a horrific emotional shock with which Jekyll seems to be connected. Eventually, Jekyll's butler comes to Utterson to ask for his help to deal with a stranger who has somehow entered the locked lab and killed Jekyll. Together they discover that the stranger in the lab is Hyde, and they break in only to find Hyde dead by his own hand and Jekyll nowhere to be found.
Eventually, Utterson reads two letters left for him from his deceased friends. The first one is from Lanyon and reveals that he witnessed firsthand that Hyde is none other than Jekyll physically transformed into the other identity by means of a potion of Jekyll's design.
The other letter is a confession from Jekyll which reveals what occurred when he realised that every man has two aspects within him – good and evil – which constantly wage war upon him. Acting on the theory that it was possible to polarise and separate these two aspects, he created a potion that could change a man into an embodiment of his evil side, thereby also making pure his good side. After using the potion on himself, Jekyll became physically smaller as his evil nature became predominant; this persona was called Edward Hyde. The potion did not work as planned, in that the shape-changing was successful, but the identity of Jekyll remained unchanged while adding an alternate character who was purely evil. After a few trial runs as Hyde, Jekyll soon began to undergo the change regularly in order to indulge in all the forbidden pleasures that he would never commit otherwise. However, the Hyde aspect himself began to grow strong beyond Jekyll's ability to control it with a counter-agent. Eventually, Jekyll wakes up in bed one day to discover that he has turned into Hyde overnight. He resolves to give up Hyde for good, but the allure proves too strong to resist, and after two months he takes the potion once more.
This time, Hyde does not just indulge himself; he commits murder, and can no longer be seen in public for fear of being recognised and sent to the gallows. This reassures Jekyll, and he attempts to redeem himself for the actions of Hyde by being charitable. However, as a result of vainglorious thought, once more he undergoes the transformation, without the aid of his potion, in a park in broad daylight. He manages to avoid capture by finding a hotel room. He writes to Lanyon, asking him to fetch from his study the drawer in which the counter-agent is found.
Lanyon complies, and Hyde shows up at his house unrecognised. He takes the potion, as although he has begun to despise Jekyll, he fears recognition and the resulting death even more. He changes into Jekyll before Lanyon's astonished eyes. Heartbroken by this shocking revelation, Lanyon wastes away and dies.
Jekyll finds that he can now only remain in his original form with the potion in his system. Eventually Jekyll ran out of the unique components to the potion, and in particular a "salt" of which he had initially acquired quite a large quantity. New supplies of this salt did not produce an effective potion, which he initially attributed to an impurity in the new supplies, but finally concluded that it was the initial order that was impure, and that an "unknown impurity" in it was vital to its effectiveness. As he had no way of acquiring any more of this impure salt, he was doomed to remain as Hyde permanently.
In the end, Jekyll decided to write the confession letter, and he finally "dies" as he transforms completely into Hyde. Hyde commits suicide, through poison, when Utterson and Jekyll's butler try to force their way into the laboratory.
This novel has become a central concept in Western culture of the inner conflict of humanity's sense of good and evil. It has also been noted as "one of the best guidebooks of the Victorian era because of its piercing description of the fundamental dichotomy of the 19th century outward respectability and inward lust" as it had a tendency for social hypocrisy.
Various direct influences have been suggested for Stevenson's interest in the mental condition that separates the sinful from moral self. Among them are the Biblical text of Romans (7:20 "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me."); the split life in the 1780s of Edinburgh city councillor Deacon William Brodie, master craftsman by day, burglar by night; and James Hogg's novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), in which a young man falls under the spell of the devil.
Literary genres which critics have applied as a framework for interpreting the novel include religious allegory, fable, detective story, sensation fiction, science fiction, doppelgänger literature, Scottish devil tales, Gothic novel.
Stevenson never says exactly what Hyde takes pleasure in on his nightly forays, saying generally that it is something of an evil and lustful nature; thus it is in the context of the times, abhorrent to Victorian religious morality. However scientists in the closing decades of the 19th century, within a post-Darwinian perspective, were also beginning to examine various biological influences on human morality, including drug and alcohol addiction, homosexuality, multiple personality disorder, and regressive animality.
Jekyll's inner division has been viewed by some critics as analogous to schisms existing in British society. Divisions include the social divisions of class, the internal divisions within the Scottish identity, the political divisions between Ireland and England, and the divisions between religious and secular forces.
The novel can be seen as an expression of the dualist tendency in Scottish culture, a forerunner to what G. Gregory Smith termed the 'Caledonian Antisyzygy' (the combination of opposites) which influenced the 20th Scottish cultural renaissance led by Hugh MacDiarmid. The London depicted in the novel resembles more closely the Old Town of Edinburgh which Stevenson frequented in his youth, itself a doppelganger to the city's respectable, classically ordered New Town. Scottish critics have also read it as a metaphor of the opposing forces of Scottish Presbyterianism and Scotland's atheistic Enlightenment.
In the arts
There have been dozens of major stage and film adaptations, and countless references in popular culture. The very phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" has become shorthand to mean wild, controversial and polar behaviour, or else schizophrenia. Most adaptations of the work omit the reader-identification figure of Utterson, instead telling the story from Jekyll and Hyde's viewpoint, thus eliminating the mystery aspect of the tale about who Hyde is; indeed there have been no major adaptations to date that stay close to Stevenson's original work, almost all introducing some form of romantic element.
For a complete list of derivative works see "Derivative works of Robert Louis Stevenson (by Richard Dury). There have been over 123 film versions, not including stage, radio etc. This is not an inclusive list, it is major and notable adaptations listed in chronological order:
- 1887, stage play, opened in Boston. Thomas Russell Sullivan's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This was the first serious theatrical rendering, it went on to tour Britain and ran for 20 years. It became forever linked with Richard Mansfield's performance, who continued playing the part up until 1907. Sullivan re-worked the plot to center around a domestic love interest.
- 1912, movie USA, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912 film). Thanhouser Company Directed by Lucius Henderson starring James Cruze amd Florence Labadie
- 1920, movie USA, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920 film). Directed by John S. Robertson. The most famous of the silent film versions, starring an inspired John Barrymore in a bravura performance. Plot follows the Sullivan version of 1887, with some elements from The Picture of Dorian Gray.
- 1920, movie Germany, Der Januskopf (literally, "The Janus-Head," Janus being a Roman God usually depicted with two faces). Directed by F.W. Murnau. An unauthorized version of Stevenson's story, disguised by changing the names to Dr Warren and Mr O'Connor. (Murnau more famously filmed an unauthorized version of Dracula in 1922's Nosferatu.) The dual roles were essayed by Conrad Veidt. The film is now lost, which is especially frustrating given that the good doctor's butler was played by none other than Bela Lugosi!
- 1931, movie USA, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931 film). Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Widely viewed as the classic film version, known for its skilled acting, powerful visual symbolism, and innovative special effects. Follows the Sullivan plot. Fredric March won the Academy Award for his deft portrayal and the technical secret of the amazing transformation scenes wasn't revealed until after the director's death decades later.
- 1941, movie USA, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941 film). Directed by Victor Fleming. Largely an imitation of the 1931 movie, it stars Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner.
- 1960, movie UK, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (released in the US as House of Fright and Jekyll's Inferno). Directed by Terence Fisher. A lurid love triangle and explicit scenes of snakes, opium dens, rape, murder and bodies crashing through glass roofs. Notable in that an aged and ineffectual Dr Jekyll becomes handsome and virile (but evil) Mr Hyde.
- 1963, movie USA, The Nutty Professor. Directed by Jerry Lewis. This screwball comedy retains a thin plot connection to the original work. Its enduring popularity has given it a significant role in the cultural visibility of the Jekyll and Hyde motif. Lewis re-works the Victorian polarised identity theme to the mid-20th century American dilemma of masculinity.
- 1968, TV USA/Canada, "Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". Starring Jack Palance, directed by Charles Jarrott and produced by Dan Curtis of Dark Shadows fame. Shown in two-parts on CBC in Canada and as one two hour movie on ABC in the USA. Nominated for several Emmy awards, it follows Hyde on a series of sexual conquests and hack and slash murders, finally shot by "Devlin" (as Utterson is renamed).
- 1971, movie UK, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. Directed by Roy Ward Barker. The earliest work to show Jekyll transform into a woman. Recasts Jekyll as Jack the Ripper, who uses Sister Hyde as a convenient disguise to carry out his murders.
- 1971, movie UK, I, Monster. Directed by Stephen Weeks. Recasts Jekyll (with a name change to Dr Marlowe/Mr Blake) as a 1906 Freudian psychotherapist. Retains a fair amount of Stevenson's original plot and dialogue.
- 1971, movie USA, Dr Sexual and Mr Hyde, Directed by Tony Brzezinski. The first hardcore pornographic adaptation.
- 1981, TV UK, with David Hemmings in the dual role and directed by Alastair Reid. This version gave a twist to the usual ending when the body turns into Mr Hyde upon his death.
- 1989, movie USA, Edge Of Sanity, a low-budget remake with Anthony Perkins as a Jekyll whose experiments with synthetic cocaine transform him into Hyde, who is also Jack The Ripper.
- 1989, TV UK, with Laura Dern and Anthony Andrews in the dual role. This version, adapted by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, was similar to Hammer's 1960 version in that Mr Hyde is the more physically attractive of the two; Dr Jekyll is depicted as a shy, mousy asocial scientist & Hyde is a handsome sociopath.
- 1990, TV UK, "Jekyll and Hyde". Directed by David Wickes. Jekyll (Michael Caine) is a widower in love with a married woman.
- 1991, Stage play, opened in london. Written by David Edgar for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The play is notable for its fidelity to the book's plot, though it invents a Sister for Jekyll. Also, Hyde is a much younger man that Jekyll in this version.
- 1995, movie US, Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde is a comedy with Sean Young and Timothy Daly. The young perfum chemist develops a way to explore his female ego, but she gets out of control, and tries to steal his life.
- 1996, movie US, Mary Reilly. Directed by Stephen Frears. Starring Julia Roberts and John Malkovich and based on the 1990 novel Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin, a re-working of Stevenson's plot centered around a maid in Jekyll's household named Mary Reilly.
- 1997, stage play, Broadway musical, Jekyll & Hyde (musical). Ran for four years. Involves a love triangle with Jekyll and two women, with Jekyll killed by Utterson on his wedding day.
- 2004, movie US, Jekyll. Written and directed by Scott Zakarin, starring Matt Keeslar. Jekyll is a medical researcher who helps create a violent computer character, which he tests by downloading into his brain.
- 2007, television drama, Jekyll. Written by Steven Moffat, starring James Nesbitt, an updated version of the story taking place in the 21st century. Produced by Hartswood Films for BBC One. Due to go into production in September 2006. BBC Press Office link.
In popular culture
- Direct examples
- A Marvel Comics supervillain was named after and based on Mr Hyde (see Mister Hyde (comics)).
- The character(s) of Jekyll and Hyde appear in Alan Moore's comic book, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the film based on it. Hyde - stronger than ever, and with the Jekyll Persona buried - dies aiding the saving of earth from the Martians of The War of the Worlds.
- The character(s) of Jekyll and Hyde play a minor role in the film, Van Helsing, as well as a substantially larger role in the animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment.
- The song "Jekyll & Hyde" from the TV show Arthur, where Alan "The Brain" Powers envisions himself as Dr Jekyll (and, thus, Mr Hyde as well).
- A R. L. Stine book Jekyll and Heidi depicts a young girl (named Heidi) moving to live with her reclusive uncle, only to discover he is the direct descendant of the original Dr Jekyll, and is carrying on his work.
- In RuneScape, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are a random event. Dr Jekyll asks for a certain herb, and if the player does not talk to him for a certain amount of time, Jekyll will transform into Mr Hyde and attack the player.
- The animated movie Mad Monster Party? features Jekyll and Hyde as guest(s) at Dr Frankenstein's monster ball.
- In the movie The Pagemaster, Jekyll is shown transforming into Hyde.
- The rock band Iced Earth wrote a song called "Jeckyl & Hyde" on the 2001 album Horror Show.
- Motif examples
- This is a motif which is often applied, for example in the following BBC news report Shadowing the Conservative leader in which the analogy with Jekyll and Hyde is clearly meant "Over the course of our filming we sometimes felt that Michael Howard seemed unsure of the image he wants to project of himself and his party. At times it was the new, touchy-feely Tories, at others – as with immigration and asylum – it was hard-line stuff. A kind of Dr Jekyll and Mr Howard."
- The Hulk, the powerful and brutishly emotional alter ego of an emotionally repressed scientist who comes forth whenever he experiences extreme emotional stress like anger or terror, is an example of the Jekyll and Hyde motif. While the Hulk often proves vital to saving the day, seeking usually to protect, his terrifying nature drives Bruce Banner into isolation, much like Jekyll, fearing discovery.
- The book was the inspiration behind Two-Face, a supervillain Bob Kane created in 1941 to battle Batman. An upstanding citizen and DA, Harvey Dent was horribly scarred and traumatized. This caused his formerly repressed Hyde to emerge. The two personalities come into direct conflict often and make decisions they are split on using the outside moderator of a flipped coin. Submerged in the underworld, it appears that the darker side of Dent finally replaced the better side.
- In the Disney cartoon short, Motor Mania, Goofy takes on a Jekyll and Hyde-type split personality when he gets behind the wheel and becomes a demon driver and a menace at the wheel.
- The Crash Bandicoot character Dr N Brio, the scientist who drinks his potion to become a giant green and powerful monster.
- The novel and subsequent film of American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis shares many thematic qualities to Stevenson's work. The protagonist Patrick Bateman, while on an outward and social level is a respectable, charming and all-together normal twenty-something, is at night, unknown to those who believe they know him, a psychopathic, amoral serial murderer-rapist. The juxtaposition between the two seeming opposites echoes that of Jekyl and Hyde.
- Fight Club, the novel and movie, share, not thematic, but stylistic elements, with the protagonist and antagonist being revealed to be the same person. Thematically though, this differs from Stevenson's novella, as in the normal-blue collar character is shown to be the depressed, emotionally dead one, whereas the amoral Tyler Durden is the fun, charming and more interesting character, not the abominal evil alter-ego of Hyde.
- Darth Vader / Anakin Skywalker. In his lust for power, the good Anakin is overcome by evil becoming Darth Vader. Having been denied a childhood with his mother, an open relationship with his lover, and the right to question the Jedi Order, his repression opens the doorway to Palpatine. The inner conflict between good and evil is explored here in greater detail. This theme appears often in the Star Wars movies and related media, focusing on the collision of the two basic forces of the universe: the good vs the Dark side of the Force. The teachings of the dark side of the Force often emphasize the Hyde personality (power, dominance, freedom) while the teachings of the light side of the Force exemplify the Jekyll personality (reason, isolation, control).
- In The Nutty Professor, Sherman Klump is a friendly, naive, obese college science teacher who develops a formula for rapid weight loss. This formula gives birth to Sherman's alter ego, a sexual, fast-talking, remarkably thin Buddy Love. The two eventually come into conflict as Buddy ceases to be an alter ego and develops his own personality and motives, attempting to completely supplant Sherman and assume dominance. In a twist, Sherman does not become subsumed by Buddy, but regains control by realizing that the freedom Buddy granted was not worth losing his identity over.
- Jekyll is a line of Mountain bicycles produced by Cannondale. So named as the rider can adjust the bike's angle-of-attack, from mellow Cross-Country style to aggressive Downhill style.
- In the anime, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the monster "Destiny Hero - Double Dude" is based on the legend of Jekyll and Hyde.
- Jekyll & Hyde Club, a themed restaurant in New York City.
- At least two
Star Trek episodes have dealt with a Jekyll/Hyde
- The Enemy Within, a Star Trek: The Original Series episode, featured a transporter accident that split Captain Kirk into two separate beings; one good, one evil.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Darkling", the Doctor undertakes a personality enhancement project on the Holodeck, in order to improve his performance as the ship's physician. He attempts to incorporate several accomplished historical figures' traits and temperaments into his Starfleet database, but he also adopts several aberrant character traits from those non-fictional figures and is soon over taken by a dangerous, cruel Mister Hyde-like personality.
See also DID/MPD in fiction.
- At the time of writing the book, Stevenson was possibly being treated with the fungus ergot at a local hospital. While ergot has been known to induce psychoactive experiences, there is no factual basis that ergot was an influence on Stevenson or the book.
- Stevenson's death in 1894, eight years after finishing the story, happened while he was straining to open a bottle of wine in his kitchen. He suddenly exclaimed that his face had changed appearance. Collapsing on the ground, he was dead within six hours of a burst blood vessel in the brain. It remains a curious thematical link between the last episode in Stevenson's life and the transformations he wrote about in his book.
- According to Paul M. Gahlinger, M.D., Ph.D., "Robert Louis Stevenson used cocaine for inspiration, and is said to have written The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in a single six-day and night binge" (Gahlinger, 2001). If this is based on factual evidence, or is merely speculation, is unclear.
- At Makar's Court in Edinburgh there is a museum dedicated to Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Walter Scott. Among the exhibits is a large chest of drawers, one of the few surviving pieces known to have been made by the notorious Deacon Brodie, a famous citizen of Edinburgh who led a double life as a cabinetmaker by day and a house-breaker by night. This chest was in Stevenson's room when he was young, and bears a strong resemblance to the press in Doctor Jekyll's cabinet.
- According to Wendy Moore, author of The Knife Man, Dr Jekyll's house was modelled on that of the famous eighteenth-century anatomist and surgeon John Hunter. Hunter, always in need of cadavers for his research, was deeply involved in the Resurrectionist business, employing body-snatchers to dig up graves (often entire graveyards) in search of corpses. His house was designed to receive high society at the front and stolen bodies at the back, reflected in the dualist nature of Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde and his surroundings.
- ^ Stevenson published the book as Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (without "The"), for reasons unknown, but it has been supposed to increase the "strangeness" of the case (Richard Drury (2005)). Later publishers added "The" to make it grammatically correct, but it was not the author's original intent. The story is often known today simply as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or even Jekyll and Hyde.
- ^ JEEK-ull (JĒ-kəl) is the correct Scots pronunciation of the name, but JEK-ull (JE-kəl) remains an accepted and common pronunciation.
- Richard Dury. The Robert Louis Stevenson website.
- Richard Dury, ed. (2005). The Annotated Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. ISBN 88-7544-030-1, over 80 pages of introduction material, extensive annotation notes, 40 pages of derivative works and extensive bibliography.
- Paul M. Gahlinger, M.D., Ph.D. (2001). Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide to their History, Chemistry, Use, and Abuse. Sagebrush Medical Guide. Pg 41. ISBN 0-9703130-1-2.
- Kathrine Linehan, ed. (2003). Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Norton Critical Edition, contains extensive annotations, contextual essays and criticisms. ISBN 0-393-97465-0
- The Annotated 'Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', an annotated version at Wikisource.
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, available freely at Project Gutenberg ver.1
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, available freely at Project Gutenberg ver.2
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in HTML format.
- Free audiobook download of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from FreeClassicAudioBooks.com - computer generated text to voice.