Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde
Jekyll and Hyde Title.jpg
Title page of the first London edition (1886)
Author Robert Louis Stevenson
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Drama
Horror
Thriller
Publisher Longmans, Green & co.
Publication date
5 January 1886
ISBN 0-553-21277-X

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the original title of a novella written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. The work is commonly known today as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or simply Jekyll & Hyde.[1] It is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll,[2][3] and the evil Edward Hyde.

The work is commonly associated with the rare mental condition often spuriously called "split personality", referred to in psychiatry as dissociative identity disorder , where within the same body there exists more than one distinct personality.[4] In this case, there are two personalities within Dr Jekyll, one apparently good and the other evil; completely opposite levels of morality. The novella's impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the very phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.[4][5]

Inspiration and writing[edit]

Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson had long been intrigued by the idea of how personalities can affect a human and how to incorporate the interplay of good and evil into a story. While still a teenager, he developed a script for a play about Deacon Brodie, which he later reworked with the help of W. E. Henley and saw produced for the first time in 1882.[6] In early 1884 he wrote the short story "Markheim", which he revised in 1884 for publication in a Christmas annual. One night in late September or early October 1885, possibly while he was still revising "Markheim," Stevenson had a dream, and upon wakening had the intuition for two or three scenes that would appear in the story. Biographer Graham Balfour quoted Stevenson's wife Fanny Stevenson:

"In the small hours of one morning,[...]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."[7]

Lloyd Osbourne, Stevenson's stepson, wrote:

"I don't believe that there was ever such a literary feat before as the writing of Dr Jekyll. I remember the first disease of the world though it were 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."[7]

As was customary, Mrs Stevenson would read the draft and offer her criticisms in the margins. Louis was confined to bed at the time from a haemorrhage. Therefore, she left her comments with the manuscript and Louis in the toilet. She said that in effect the story was really an allegory, but Louis was writing it 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 forced himself to start again from nothing, writing an allegorical story as she had suggested. Scholars debate whether he really burnt his manuscript; there is no direct factual evidence for the burning, but it remains an integral part of the history of the novella.[8]

Stevenson re-wrote the story in three to six days. A number of later biographers have alleged that Stevenson was on drugs during the frantic re-write; for example, William Gray's revisionist history A Literary Life (2004) said he used cocaine, while other biographers said he used ergot.[9] However, the standard history, according to the accounts of his wife and son (and himself), says he was bed-ridden and sick while writing it. According to Osbourne, "The mere physical feat was tremendous and, instead of harming him, it roused and cheered him inexpressibly". He continued to refine the work for four to six weeks after the initial re-write. The novella was written in the southern English sea side town of Bournemouth, where Stevenson had moved due to ill health, in order to benefit from its sea air and warmer southern climate.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

John Utterson, a lawyer, is on his weekly walk with his relative, Enfield, who proceeds to tell Utterson of an encounter he had seen some months ago while coming home late at night between a man and a young girl. The man, a sinister figure named Edward Hyde, and a young girl, who has run to get a doctor, accidentally bump into one another, but Hyde proceeds to trample her. Enfield chases after Hyde, brings him back to the scene, and, after the doctor assures them that the girl is okay, though frightened, joins with the girl's family in forcing Hyde to pay 100 pounds to avoid the scandal they will otherwise spread for his despicable behavior. Hyde leads them to the building Enfield and Utterson have paused before months later, disappears, and re-emerges with 10 pounds in gold and a cheque for the rest, drawn on the account of a reputable gentleman, who is later revealed to be Dr. Henry Jekyll (a client and old friend of Utterson's). Jekyll had recently and suddenly changed his will to make Hyde the sole beneficiary in case of his death or disappearance for more than three months. This development concerns and disturbs Utterson, who makes an effort to seek out Hyde, fearing that Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll. When he finally sees Hyde, the latter's ugliness, as if deformed, amazes Utterson. Although Utterson cannot say exactly how or why, Hyde provokes an instinctive feeling of revulsion in him. Much to Utterson's surprise, Hyde willingly offers Utterson his address. After one of Jekyll's dinner parties, Utterson stays behind to discuss the matter of Hyde with Jekyll. Utterson notices Jekyll turning pale, yet he assures Utterson that everything involving Hyde is in order and that Hyde should be left alone.

A year passes uneventfully. One night, a servant girl witnesses Hyde beat a man to death with a heavy cane. The victim was MP Sir Danvers Carew, another of Utterson's clients who was carrying a letter addressed to Utterson when he was killed. The police, who suspect Hyde, contact Utterson. He leads the officers to Hyde's apartment, feeling a sense of foreboding amid the eerie weather (the morning is dark and wreathed in fog). When they arrive at the apartment, the murderer has vanished, but they find half of the cane (described as being made of a strong wood but broken due to the beating) left behind a door. It is revealed to have been given to Jekyll by Utterson. Shortly thereafter, Utterson again visits Jekyll, who now claims to have ended all relations with Hyde. Jekyll shows Utterson a note, allegedly written to Jekyll by Hyde, apologizing for the trouble that he has caused him and saying goodbye. That night, however, Utterson's clerk points out that Hyde’s handwriting bears a remarkable similarity to Jekyll's own.

For a few months, Jekyll reverts to his former friendly and sociable manner, as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. Later, Jekyll suddenly starts refusing visitors, and Dr. Hastie Lanyon, a mutual acquaintance of Jekyll and Utterson, dies suddenly of shock after receiving information relating to Jekyll. Before his death, Lanyon gives Utterson a letter, with instructions that he should only open it after Jekyll's death or his disappearance. Utterson goes out walking with Enfield, and they see Jekyll at a window of his laboratory. The three men start conversing, but a look of horror suddenly comes over Jekyll's face, and he slams the window and disappears. Soon afterwards, Jekyll's butler, Mr. Poole, visits Utterson in a state of desperation and explains that Jekyll has secluded himself in his laboratory for several weeks. Utterson and Poole travel to Jekyll's house through empty, windswept, sinister streets. Once there, they find the servants huddled together in fear. They go to see the laboratory where they hear that the voice coming from inside is not the voice of Jekyll and the footsteps are light and not the heavy footsteps of the doctor. After arguing for a time, the two of them resolve to break into Jekyll's laboratory.

Inside, they find the body of Hyde wearing Jekyll's clothes and apparently dead from suicide. They find also a letter from Jekyll to Utterson promising to explain the entire mystery. Utterson takes the document home, where he first reads Lanyon’s letter and then Jekyll's. The first reveals that Lanyon’s deterioration and eventual death resulted from the shock of seeing Hyde drinking a serum, or potion, and as a result of doing so, turning into Dr. Jekyll. The second letter explains that Jekyll, having previously indulged unstated vices (and with it the fear that discovery would lead to his losing his social position) found a way to transform himself and thereby indulge his vices without fear of detection. But Jekyll's transformed personality, Hyde, was effectively a sociopath — evil, self-indulgent, and utterly uncaring to anyone but himself. Initially, Jekyll was able to control the transformations, but eventually he would become Hyde involuntarily in his sleep.

At this point, Jekyll resolved to cease becoming Hyde. One night, however, the urge gripped him too strongly, and after the transformation he immediately rushed out and violently killed Sir Danvers Carew. Horrified, Jekyll tried more adamantly to stop the transformations, and for a time he proved successful by engaging in philanthropic work. One day, at a park, he considered how good a person that he had become as a result of his deeds (in comparison to others), believing himself redeemed. However, before he completed his line of thought, he looked down at his hands and realized that he had suddenly transformed once again into Hyde. This was the first time that an involuntary metamorphosis had happened in waking hours. Far from his laboratory and hunted by the police as a murderer, Hyde needed help to avoid being caught. He wrote to Lanyon (in Jekyll's hand), asking his friend to retrieve the contents of a cabinet in his laboratory and to meet him at midnight at Lanyon's home in Cavendish Square. In Lanyon's presence, Hyde mixed the potion and transformed back to Jekyll in Lanyon's presence. The shock of the sight instigated Lanyon's deterioration and death. Meanwhile, Jekyll returned to his home, only to find himself ever more helpless and trapped as the transformations increased in frequency and necessitated even larger doses of potion in order to reverse them. It was the onset of one of these spontaneous metamorphoses that caused Jekyll to slam his laboratory window shut in the middle of his conversation with Enfield and Utterson.

Eventually, the stock of ingredients from which Jekyll had been preparing the potion ran low, and subsequent batches prepared by Jekyll from renewed stocks failed to produce the transformation. Jekyll speculated that the one essential ingredient that made the original potion work (a salt) must have itself been contaminated. After sending his butler Poole to one chemist after another, to purchase the salt that was running low, only to find it wouldn't work, he assumed that subsequent supplies all lacked the essential ingredient that made the potion successful for his experiments. His ability to change back from Hyde into Jekyll had slowly vanished in consequence. Jekyll wrote that even as he composed his letter, he knew that he would soon become Hyde permanently, having used the last of this salt and he wondered if Hyde would face execution for his crimes or choose to kill himself. Jekyll noted that, in either case, the end of his letter marked the end of the life of Dr. Jekyll. He ended the letter saying "I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end". With these words, both the document and the novella come to a close.

Characters[edit]

Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde[edit]

Dr. Henry Jekyll is a "large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty with something of a stylish cast", who occasionally feels he is battling between the good and evil within himself, thus leading to the struggle between his dual personalities of Jekyll and Edward Hyde. He has spent a great part of his life trying to repress evil urges that were not fitting for a man of his stature. He creates a serum, or potion, in an attempt to mask this hidden evil within his personality. However, in doing so, Jekyll transforms into the smaller, younger, cruel, remorseless, evil Hyde. Jekyll has many friends and has an amiable personality, but as Hyde, he becomes mysterious and violent. As time goes by, Hyde grows in power. After taking the potion repetitively, he no longer relies upon it to unleash his inner demon i.e., his alter ego. Eventually, Hyde grows so strong that Jekyll becomes reliant on the potion to remain conscious.

Stevenson never says exactly what Hyde takes pleasure in on his nightly forays, generally saying that it is something of an evil and lustful nature. Thus, in the context of the times, it is abhorrent to Victorian religious morality. Hyde may have been reveling in activities that were not appropriate to a man of Jekyll's stature, such as engaging with prostitutes or burglary. However, it is Hyde's violent activities that seem to give him the most thrills, driving him to attack and murder Sir Danvers Carew without apparent reason, making him a hunted outlaw throughout England.

Realizing he will soon be Hyde forever, Jekyll leaves behind a testament, pointing out that while Jekyll often felt like a charlatan, Hyde felt like a "genuine man" years younger and far more energetic than his more "sociable" self. He also states in his final confession that although Hyde knew people recoiled from him, he did not recoil from them.

Stevenson's pronunciation of Jekyll used a "long e" sound (//),[10] which was the pronunciation used in Stevenson's native Scotland.[citation needed] This is also the pronunciation of Gertrude Jekyll.

Gabriel John Utterson[edit]

Gabriel John Utterson, a lawyer and loyal friend of Jekyll's (and Lanyon's), is the character the narrator focuses on, and follows in Utterson's quest to discover the identity of Hyde. Utterson is a measured, and at all times emotionless, bachelor — who nonetheless seems believable, trustworthy, tolerant of the faults of others, and indeed genuinely likeable. However, Utterson is not immune to guilt, as, while he is quick to investigate and judge the faults of others even for the benefit of his friends, Stevenson states that "he was humbled to the dust by the many ill things he had done". Whatever these "ill things" may be, he does not partake in gossip or other views of the upper class out of respect for his fellow man. Often the last remaining friend of the down-falling, he finds an interest in others' downfalls, which creates a spark of interest not only in Jekyll but also regarding Hyde. He comes to the conclusion that human downfall results from indulging oneself in topics of interest. As a result of this line of reasoning, he lives life as a recluse and "dampens his taste for the finer items of life". Utterson concludes that Jekyll, conversely, lives life as he wishes to, by enjoying his occupation.

Richard Enfield[edit]

Richard Enfield is Utterson's distant relative and is a well known "man about town", suggesting a certain sexual licentiousness. Evidence to support this is that he first sees Hyde at about three in the morning in an episode that is well documented as Hyde running over a little girl. He is the person who mentions to Utterson the actual personality of Jekyll's heir, Hyde. Enfield witnessed Hyde running over a little girl in the street recklessly, and the group of witnesses, with the girl's parents and other residents, force Hyde into writing a cheque for the girl's family. Enfield discovers that Jekyll signed the cheque, which is genuine. He says that Hyde is disgusting looking but finds himself stumped when asked to describe the man. Perhaps it is Hyde's personality and mannerisms that distinguish him from his fellow human beings, making it impossible for them to identify with such a character.

Dr. Hastie Lanyon[edit]

A longtime friend of Jekyll's, Hastie Lanyon disagrees with his "scientific" concepts, which Lanyon describes as "...too fanciful". He is the first person to discover Hyde's true identity (Hyde transforms himself back into Jekyll in Lanyon's presence). Lanyon helps Utterson solve the case, when he describes the letter given to him by Jekyll, and his thoughts and reactions to the transformation. When Lanyon witnesses the transformation process (and subsequently hears Jekyll's private confession, made to him alone), Lanyon becomes critically ill and later dies of shock. As an embodiment of Victorian rationalism, materialism, and skepticism, Lanyon serves as a foil to Jekyll.

Mr. Poole[edit]

Poole is Jekyll's butler who, upon noticing the reclusiveness and changes of his master, goes to Utterson with the fear that his master has been murdered and his murderer, Mr Hyde, is residing in the chambers. Poole serves Jekyll faithfully, and attempts to do a good job and be loyal to his master. Yet events finally drive him into joining forces with Utterson to find the truth.

Inspector Newcomen[edit]

Utterson joins this Scotland Yard inspector after the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. They explore Hyde's loft in Soho and discover evidence of his depraved life.

Sir Danvers Carew, MP[edit]

A kind, white haired, old man and an important Member of Parliament. The maid claims that Hyde, in a murderous rage, killed Carew in the streets of London on the night of 18 October (sometime between 11 pm and 2 am by the testimony of the maid). At the time of his death, Carew is 70 years old and is carrying on his person a letter addressed to Utterson. As a result, the police subsequently interview Utterson with regard to the murder. Although there is no clear reason for his murder, Carew openly greets Hyde immediately prior to the killing. Coupled with this, both characters have a direct link to Utterson.

Maid[edit]

A maid, whose employer Hyde had once visited, is the only person who claims to have witnessed the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. She states that she believes Hyde murdered Carew. She faints after she sees what happens, then wakes up and rushes to the police, thus instigating the murder case.

Analysis[edit]

Richard Mansfield was mostly known for his dual role depicted in this double exposure. The stage adaptation opened in London in 1887, a year after the publication of the novella. (Picture 1895)

Literary genres which critics have applied as a framework for interpreting the novel include religious allegory, fable, detective story, sensation fiction, doppelgänger literature, Scottish devil tales and gothic novel. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has been the influence for The Hulk, Two-Face and the general superhero genre for the story's ties to a double life.

This story represents a concept in Victorian culture, that of the inner conflict of humanity's sense of good and evil.[11] In particular the novella has been interpreted as an examination of the duality of human nature (that good and evil exists in all), and that the failure to accept this tension (to accept the evil or shadow side) results in the evil being projected onto others.[12] Paradoxically in this argument, evil is actually committed in an effort to extinguish the perceived evil that has been projected onto the innocent victims. In Freudian Theory the thoughts and desires banished to the unconscious mind motivate the behavior of the conscious mind. If someone banishes all evil to the unconscious mind in an attempt to be wholly and completely good, it can result in the development of a Mr Hyde-type aspect to that person's character.[12] This failure to accept the tension of duality is related to Christian theology, where Satan's fall from Heaven is due to his refusal to accept that he is a created being (that he has a dual nature) and is not God.[12] This idea is suggested when Hyde says to Lanyon, shortly before drinking the famous potion - "...and your sight shall be blasted by a prodigy to stagger the unbelief of Satan." This is why in Christianity, pride (to consider oneself as without sin or without evil) is the greatest sin, as it is the precursor to evil itself; it also explains the Christian concept of evil hiding in the light.[12]

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 what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."); 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.

Some readers have argued that the "dual personalities" interpretation is overly simplistic. Jekyll himself notes that a person may be divided into many more than two distinct personalities — he expects that researchers in the future will discover that a person is made up of many different selves. In his discussion of the novel, Vladimir Nabokov argues that the "good versus evil" view of the novel is misleading, as Jekyll himself is not, by Victorian standards, a morally good person.[13]

One popular interpretation is the "civilized versus animalistic" approach. Other readers have argued even further that the split between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde represents the civilized and the animalistic version of the same person. The description of Hyde as an almost prehuman creature and his actions that occur without thought, suggests that Hyde is more animal than man. Dr Jekyll on the other hand, can be seen as existing in a constant state of repression, with the only thing controlling his urges being the possible consequences imposed by civilized society.

Another common interpretation sees the novella's duality as representative of Scotland and the Scottish character. On this reading the duality represents the national and linguistic dualities inherent in Scotland's relationship with the wider Britain and the English language, respectively, and also the repressive effects of the Church of Scotland on the Scottish character.[8] A further parallel is also drawn with the city of Edinburgh itself, Stevenson's birthplace, which consists of two distinct parts: the old medieval section historically inhabited by the city's poor, where the dark crowded slums were rife with all types of crime, and the modern Georgian area of wide spacious streets representing respectability.[8][14][15]

The novella 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 this period had a tendency for social hypocrisy.[11]

Reception[edit]

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was an immediate success and is one of Stevenson's best-selling works. Stage adaptations began in Boston and London and soon moved all across England and then towards his home Scotland.[4]

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was initially sold as a paperback for one shilling in the UK and one dollar in the U.S. The American publisher issued the book on 5 January 1886, four days before the first appearance of the UK edition issued by Longmans; Scribner's published 3000 copies, only 1250 of them bound in cloth. 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. The book's success was probably due more to the "moral instincts of the public" than any perception of its artistic merits; it was widely read by those who never otherwise read fiction, quoted in pulpit sermons and in religious papers.[citation needed] By 1901 it was estimated to have sold over 250,000 copies.[citation needed]

Adaptations[edit]

Poster from the 1880s

There are dozens of stage and film adaptations of the novella, over 123 film versions alone, not including stage and radio versions.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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 Dury (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.
  2. ^ /ˈkəl/ is the Scots pronunciation of the name, but /ˈɛkəl/ is the accepted general pronunciation.
  3. ^ Jekyll's pronunciation according to Stevenson himself
  4. ^ a b c Saposnik, Irving S. "The Anatomy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 11.4, Nineteenth Century (1971): pp. 715-731.
  5. ^ "Jekyll and Hyde definition | Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  6. ^ Swearingen, Roger G. The Prose Writings of Robert Louis Stevenson. London: Macmillan, 1980. (ISBN) p. 37.
  7. ^ a b Balfour, Graham (1912). The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson II. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 15–6. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c The Beast Within The Guardian, 13-Dec-2008
  9. ^ Possibly with the help of cocaine, according to William Gray's revisionist history Robert Louis Stevenson: A Literary Life (2004). ISBN 978-0-333-98400-0
  10. ^ Nicholls, Peter, ed. (1981) [First published 1979]. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Granada Publishing. p. 574. ISBN 0586053808. 
  11. ^ a b Nightmare: Birth of Victorian Horror (TV series) Jekyll and Hyde (1996)
  12. ^ a b c d Sanford, John A. Evil The Shadow Side of Reality. Crossroad (1981)
  13. ^ "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: An Introductory Essay." Signet Classic, 2003
  14. ^ Robert Louis Stevenson and His World, David Daiches, 1973
  15. ^ "Edinburgh: Where Jekyll parties with Hyde". The Daily Telegraph (London). 1998-07-25. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  16. ^ Derivative works of Robert Louis Stevenson

Further reading[edit]

  • Borinskikh L. I. (1990c). ‘The method to reveal a character in the works of R.L.Stevenson [The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde]’/. In *** (ed.) The Problem of character in literature. Tchelyabinsk: Tchelyabinsk State University. Pp. 31–32. [in Russian, German and Hindi].
  • 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

External links[edit]