Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: Analysis and Themes
By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)
The story for Jekyll and Hyde famously came to Robert Louis Stevenson in a dream, and according to Stevenson’s stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, Stevenson wrote the first draft of the novella in just three days, before promptly throwing it onto the fire when his wife criticised it. Stevenson then rewrote it from scratch, taking ten days this time, and the novella was promptly published in January 1886.
The story is part detective-story or mystery, part Gothic horror, and part science fiction, so it’s worth analysing how Stevenson fuses these different elements.
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: analysis
Now it’s time for some words of analysis about Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic 1886 novella. However, perhaps ‘analyses’ (plural) would be more accurate, since there never could be one monolithic meaning of a story so ripe with allegory and suggestive symbolism.
Like another novella that was near-contemporary with Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde , and possibly influenced by it ( H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine ), the symbols often point in several different directions at once.
Any attempt to reduce Stevenson’s story of doubling to a moral fable about drugs or drink, or a tale about homosexuality, is destined to lose sight of the very thing which makes the novella so relevant to so many people: its multifaceted quality. So here are some (and they are only some) of the many interpretations of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which have been put forward in the last 120 years or so.
A psychoanalytic or proto-psychoanalytic analysis
In this interpretation, Jekyll is the ego and Hyde the id (in Freud’s later terminology). The ego is the self in Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, while the id is the set of primal drives found in our unconscious: the urge to kill, or do inappropriate sexual things, for instance.
Several of Robert Louis Stevenson’s essays, such as ‘A Chapter on Dreams’ (1888), prefigure some of Freud’s later ideas; and there was increasing interest in the workings of the human mind towards the end of the nineteenth century (two leading journals in the field, Brain and Mind , had both been founded in the 1870s).
The psychoanalytic interpretation is a popular one with many readers of Jekyll and Hyde , and since the novella is clearly about repression of some sort, one can make a psychoanalytic interpretation – an analysis grounded in psychoanalysis, if you like – quite convincingly.
It might be significant, reading the story from a post-Freudian perspective, that Hyde is described as childlike at several points: does he embody Jekyll’s – and, indeed, man’s – deep desire to return to a time before responsibility and full maturity, when one was freer to act on impulse? Early infancy is the formative period for much Freudian psychoanalysis.
Recall the empty middle-class scenes at the beginning of the book: Utterson and Enfield on their joyless Sunday walks, for instance. Hyde attacks father-figures (Sir Danvers Carew, the MP whom he murders, is a white-haired old gentleman), which would fall in line with Freud’s concept of the Oedipus complex and Jekyll’s desire to return to a time before adult life with its responsibilities and disappointments.
However, one fly in the Oedipal ointment is that Hyde also attacks a young girl – almost the complete opposite of the ‘old man’ or father figure embodied by Danvers Carew.
Nevertheless, psychoanalytic readings of the novella have been popular for some time, and it’s worth remembering that the idea for the book came to Stevenson in a dream. Observe, also, the presence of dreams and dreamlike scenes in the novel itself, such as when Jekyll remarks that he ‘received Lanyon’s condemnation partly in a dream; it was partly in a dream that I came home to my own house and got into bed’.
An anti-alcohol morality tale?
Alternatively, a different interpretation: we might analyse these dreamlike aspects of the novel in another way and see the novel as being about alcoholism and temperance , subjects which were being fiercely debated at the time Stevenson was writing.
Here, then, the ‘transforming draught’ which Jekyll concocts represents alcohol, and Jekyll, upon imbibing the draught, becomes a violent, unpredictable person unknown even to himself. (This reading has been most thoroughly explored in Thomas L. Reed’s 2006 study The Transforming Draught .)
Note how often wine crops up in this short book: it turns up first of all in the second sentence of the novella, when Utterson is found sipping it, and Hyde, we learn, has a closet ‘filled with wine’. Might the continual presence of wine be a clue that we are all Hydes waiting to happen? Note how the opening paragraph informs us that Utterson drinks gin when he is alone.
This thesis – that the novella is about alcohol and temperance – is intriguing, but has been contested by critics such as Julia Reid for being too speculative and reductionist: see her review of The Transforming Draught in The Review of English Studies , 2007.
The ‘drugs’ interpretation
Similarly, the idea that the ‘draught’ is a metaphor for some other drug, whether opium or cocaine . Scholars are unsure as to whether Stevenson was on drugs when he wrote the book: some accounts say Stevenson used cocaine to finish the manuscript; others say he took ergot, which is the substance from which LSD was later synthesised. Some say he was too sick to be taking anything.
You could purchase cocaine and opium from your local chemist in 1880s London (indeed, another invention of 1886, Coca-Cola, originally contained cocaine, as the drink’s name still testifies: don’t worry, it doesn’t any more).
This is essentially a development of the previous interpretation concerning alcohol, and arguably has similar limitations in being too restrictive an interpretation. However, note the way that Jekyll, in his ‘full statement’ becomes reliant on the ‘draught’ or ‘salt’ towards the end.
A religious analysis
As such, the story has immediate links with the story Stevenson would write sixty years later. Stevenson was an atheist who managed to escape the constrictive religion of his parents, but he remained haunted by Calvinistic doctrines for the rest of his life, and much of his work can be seen as an attempt to grapple with these issues which had affected and afflicted him so much as a child.
The sexuality interpretation
Some critics have interpreted Jekyll and Hyde in light of late nineteenth-century attitudes to sexuality : note the almost total absence of women from the story, barring the odd maid and ‘old hag’, and that hapless girl trampled underfoot by Hyde.
Some critics have suggested that the idea of blackmail for homosexual acts lurks behind the story, and the novella itself mentions this when Enfield tells Utterson that he refers to the house of Mr Hyde as ‘Black Mail House’ as a consequence of the girl-trampling scene in the street.
As such, the novella becomes an allegory for the double life lived by many homosexual Victorian men, who had to hide (or Hyde ) their illicit liaisons from their friends and families. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote to his friend Robert Bridges that the girl-trampling incident early on in the narrative was ‘perhaps a convention: he was thinking of something unsuitable for fiction’.
Some have interpreted this statement – by Hopkins, himself a repressed homosexual – as a reference to homosexual activity in late Victorian London.
Consider in this connection the fact that Hyde enters Jekyll’s house through the ‘back way’ – even, at one point ‘the back passage’. 1885, the year Stevenson wrote the book, was the year of the Criminal Law Amendment Act (commonly known as the Labouchere Amendment ), which criminalised acts of ‘gross indecency’ between men (this was the act which, ten years later, would put Oscar Wilde in gaol).
However, we should be wary of reading the text as about ‘homosexual panic’, since, as Harry Cocks points out, homosexuality was frequently ‘named openly, publicly and repeatedly’ in nineteenth-century criminal courts. But then could fiction for a mass audience as readily name such things?
A Darwinian analysis
Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species , which laid out the theory of evolution by natural selection, had been published in 1859, when Stevenson was still a child. In this reading, Hyde represents the primal, animal origin of modern, civilised man.
Consider here the repeated uses of the word ‘apelike’ in relation to Hyde, suggesting he is an atavistic throwback to an earlier, more primitive species of man than Homo sapiens . This reading incorporates theories of something called ‘devolution’, an idea (now discredited) which suggested that life forms could actually evolve backwards into more primitive forms.
This is also linked with late Victorian fears concerning degeneration and decadence among the human race. Is Jekyll’s statement that he ‘bore the stamp, of lower elements in my soul’ an allusion to Charles Darwin’s famous phrase from the end of The Descent of Man (1871), ‘man […] bears […] the indelible stamp of his lowly origin’?
In his story ‘Olalla’, another tale of the double which Stevenson published in 1885, he writes: ‘Man has risen; if he has sprung from the brutes he can descend to the same level again’.
This Darwinian analysis of Jekyll and Hyde could incorporate elements of the sexual which the previous interpretation also touches upon, but would view the novel as a portrayal of man’s – and we mean specifically man ’s here – repression of the darker, violent, primitive side of his nature associated with rape, pillage, conquest, and murder.
This looks back to a psychoanalytic reading, with the ‘id’ being the home of primal sexual desire and lust. The girl-tramping scene may take on another significance here: it’s a ‘girl’ rather than a boy because it symbolises Hyde’s animalistic desire to conquer and brutalise someone of the opposite, not the same, sex.
There have been many critical readings of the novella in relation to sex and sexuality, but it’s important to point out that Stevenson denied that the novella was about sexuality (see below).
A study in hypocrisy?
Or perhaps not: perhaps there is something in the idea that hypocrisy is the novella’s theme , as Stevenson himself suggested in a letter of November 1887 to John Paul Bocock, editor of the New York Sun : ‘The harm was in Jekyll,’ Stevenson wrote, ‘because he was a hypocrite – not because he was fond of women; he says so himself; but people are so filled full of folly and inverted lust, that they can think of nothing but sexuality. The Hypocrite let out the beast’.
This analysis of Jekyll and Hyde sees the two sides to Jekyll’s personality as a portrayal of the dualistic nature of Victorian society, where you must be respectable and civilised on the outside, while all the time harbouring an inward lust, violence, and desire which you have to bring under control.
This was a popular theme for many late nineteenth-century writers – witness not only Oscar Wilde’s 1891 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray but also the double lives of Jack and Algernon in Wilde’s comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). This is a more open-ended interpretation, and the novella does appear to be about repression of some sort.
In this respect, this interpretation is similar to the psychoanalytic reading proposed above, but it also tallies with Stevenson’s own assertion that the story is about hypocrisy. Everyone in this book is masking their private thoughts or desires from others.
Note how even the police officer, Inspector Newcomen, when he learns of the murder of the MP, goes from being horrified one moment to excited the next, as ‘the next moment his eye lighted up with professional ambition’. He can barely contain his glee. The maid who answers the door at Hyde’s rooms has ‘an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy; but her manners were excellent’.
From these clues, we can also posit a reading of the novel which sees it as about the class structure of late nineteenth-century Britain, where Jekyll represents the comfortable middle class and Hyde is the repressed – or, indeed, oppressed – working-class figure.
Note here, however, how Hyde is repeatedly described as a ‘gentleman’ by those who see him, and that he attacks Danvers Carew with a ‘cane’, rather than, say, a club (though it is reported, tellingly, that he ‘clubbed’ Carew to death with it).
A scientific interpretation
The reference to the evil maid with excellent manners places Jekyll’s own duality at the extreme end of a continuum, where everyone is putting on a respectable and acceptable mask which hides or conceals the evil truth lurking behind it. So we might see Jekyll’s scientific experiment as merely a physical embodiment of what everyone does.
This leads some critics to ask, then, whether the novella about the misuse of science . Or is the ‘tincture’ merely a scientific, chemical composition because a magical draught or elixir would be unbelievable to an 1880s reader? Arthur Machen, an author who was much influenced by Stevenson and especially by Jekyll and Hyde , made this point in a letter of 1894, when he grumbled:
In these days the supernatural per se is entirely incredible; to believe, we must link our wonders to some scientific or pseudo-scientific fact, or basis, or method. Thus we do not believe in ‘ghosts’ but in telepathy, not in ‘witch-craft’ but in hypnotism. If Mr Stevenson had written his great masterpiece about 1590-1650, Dr Jekyll would have made a compact with the devil. In 1886 Dr Jekyll sends to the Bond Street chemists for some rare drugs.
This is worth pondering: the use of the ‘draught’ lends the story an air of scientific authenticity, which makes the story a form of science fiction rather than fantasy: the tincture which Jekyll drinks is not magical, merely a chemical potion of some vaguely defined sort. But to say that the story is actually about the dangers of misusing science could be a leap too far.
We run the risk of confusing the numerous film adaptations of the book with the book itself: we immediately picture wild-haired soot-faced scientists causing explosions and mixing up potions in a dark laboratory, but in fact this is not really what the story is about , merely the means through which the real meat of the story – the transformation of Jekyll into Hyde – is effected.
It’s only once this split has been achieved that the real story, about the dark side of man’s nature which he represses, comes to light. (Compare Frankenstein here .)
All of these interpretations of Jekyll and Hyde can be – and have been – proposed, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the popularity of Stevenson’s tale may lie in the very polyvalent and ambiguous nature of the text, the fact that it exists as a symbol without a key, a riddle without a definitive answer.
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Literary Theory and Criticism
Home › British Literature › Analysis of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Analysis of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on October 7, 2022
Longman, Green, and Company published Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886 as a “shilling shocker.” Stevenson reputedly developed the storyline from a dream he had about a man forced into a cabinet after ingesting a potion that would convert him into a brutal monster. The composition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde began in September 1885, and the final draft was submitted for publication later that same year. Unlike most 19th century literary works, Stevenson’s manuscript was released in book form instead of being serialized in a popular magazine. The publishers withheld its release until January 1886 because booksellers had already placed their Christmas stock. Within six months, Stevenson’s novella sold more than 40,000 copies in England and America.
Dr. Jekyll (right) and Mr. Hyde, both as portrayed by Fredric March in Rouben Mamoulian’s film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931).
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde debates the conflict between good and evil and the correlation among bourgeois values, urban violence, and class structure. Dr. Jekyll is a seemingly placid character whose often-debated scientific research has nonetheless gained him respect amid his peers. The potion that Jekyll develops causes an unexplainable transformation into the violent Mr. Hyde. The Mr. Hyde alter-ego may represent an uncontrollable subconscious desire driven by anger and frustration toward an oppressive English class structure. Hyde’s numerous rampages include trampling a young girl and murdering the prominent English politician Sir Danvers. Although Jekyll prefers living the life of “the elderly and discontent doctor” (84), he cannot control his urge for “the liberty, the comparative youth, the light steps, leaping impulses, and secret pleasures” that the Hyde persona offers him. Dr. Jekyll’s desired liberty is perhaps caused by the restricted lifestyle that bourgeois cultural codes imposed on English society. Several Victorian social critics maintained that inner-city London dwellers were a debased life form living in junglelike conditions analogous to those in Africa. In 1890, William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, claimed that England needed rescuing from its continually degenerating condition since its citizens were gradually turning into “[a] population trodden with drink, steeped in vice, [and] eaten up by every social and physical malady” (quoted in Stevenson, 183). Stevenson’s text describes how hidden desires have always existed in a seemingly perverted civilization.
Literary critics have stressed that Stevenson’s success in the “shilling shocker” market both helped and hindered his career. The rapid success of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde led Henry James to remark that Stevenson’s novella was at first too popular a work to be comfortably called a masterpiece. Henry James was not questioning Stevenson’s talent as a writer but rather was noting that the book’s quick popularity defined it as a story that was easily accessible to the mass public.
Playwright Richard Mansfield produced a stage version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1888. Shortly after Mansfield’s play opened, several East End London prostitutes were murdered by a serial killer nicknamed Jack the Ripper. English newspapers initially termed the slayer the “Whitechapel murderer” and “Leather Apron” before settling on “Jack the Ripper.” Reporters based their stories on the possible correlation between the killings and Mansfield’s theatrical representation of violence. Mansfield’s play was eventually closed because such parallels made it seem as though Jack the Ripper was mimicking the violence depicted in Mansfield’s play, marking the first time that the concept of Mr. Hyde was used in reference to sequential crime sprees. Reports from the Daily Telegraph further damaged the profits for Mansfield’s play by stating that “there is no taste for horror” (17) on the London stage. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde remains a significant canonical text that uses its patchwork narrative to explore the conflation of reality and fictional representation that most postmodern writers still examine.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Caler, Jenni. The Robert Louis Stevenson Companion. Edinburgh: P. Harris, 1980. James, Henry. “Robert Louis Stevenson.” Reprinted in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, edited by Martin A. Danahay, 140–141. Orchard Park, N.Y.: Broadview Literary Texts, 1999. Rose, Brian A. Jekyll and Hyde Adapted: Dramatizations of Cultural Anxiety. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1996. Saposnik, Irving S. “The Anatomy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” In The Definitive Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Companion, edited by Harry M. Geduld, 108–117. New York: Garland Publishing, 1983. Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Edited by Martin A. Danahay, 29–91. Orchard Park, N.Y.: Broadview Literary Texts, 1999.
Categories: British Literature , Literature , Short Story
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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — Mr. Utterson Character Analysis in “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”
How Utterson is Presented in Jekyll and Hyde
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Dr. jekyll and mr. hyde, utterson character analysis.
- Comitini, P. (2012). The Strange Case of Addiction in Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Victorian Review, 38(1), 113-131. (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/133/article/546074/summary)
- Danahay, M. (2013). Dr. Jekyll's Two Bodies. Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 35(1), 23-40. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08905495.2013.770616)
- Rago, J. V. (2006). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: A. Men’s Narrative” of Hysteria and Containment.” Robert Louis Stevenson: Writer of Boundaries. Eds. Ambrosini, Richard and Richard Dury. Madison, WI: The U of Wisconsin P, 275-85. (https://studylib.net/doc/8040192/rago--jane-v.--dr.-jekyll-and-mr.-hyde--a--men-s-narrativ…)
- Gaughan, R. T. (1987). Mr. Hyde and Mr. Seek: Utterson's Antidote. The Journal of narrative technique, 17(2), 184-197. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/30225181)
- Frank, C. O. (2010). Privacy, character, and the jurisdiction of the self: A “Story of the Door” in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. English Language Notes, 48(2), 215-224. (https://read.dukeupress.edu/english-language-notes/article-abstract/48/2/215/136024/Privacy-Character-and-the-Jurisdiction-of-the-Self)
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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde chapters incident of the letter &...
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Answer & explanation.
Here are my example responses to the following questions:
- In the first five chapters of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Dr. Jekyll appears as a respected and accomplished gentleman, well-regarded in society. He exudes an air of dignity and intelligence, which makes his eventual connection with Mr. Hyde all the more puzzling. Despite his admirable facade, there's a sense of inner turmoil lurking beneath the surface, hinted at by his secretive behavior and sudden transformations. On the other hand, Mr. Hyde is depicted as a sinister and repugnant figure, contrasting sharply with Dr. Jekyll's refined demeanor. He embodies the darker aspects of human nature, displaying cruelty and violence without remorse. His appearance inspires fear and revulsion in those around him, setting him apart as a truly unsettling character.
- While it's tempting to hope that Edward Hyde's nefarious activities have come to an end with Dr. Jekyll's apparent reformation, there are lingering doubts about the permanence of this change. The complex relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde suggests a deeper psychological struggle that may not be easily resolved. Dr. Jekyll's experiments and the subsequent emergence of Hyde indicate a profound internal conflict that cannot be easily suppressed. Furthermore, Stevenson leaves room for speculation by not providing a definitive conclusion to the story. The ambiguity surrounding Hyde's fate allows for the possibility of his return, as unresolved issues often have a way of resurfacing unexpectedly.
- At the beginning of "The Remarkable Incident of Dr. Lanyon," Dr. Lanyon suffers a sudden and mysterious decline in health, leading to his eventual death. The cause of this occurrence is left ambiguous, fueling suspicion and intrigue. One possible explanation could be the shock or trauma resulting from his encounter with the truth about Dr. Jekyll's dual identity. Stevenson's decision to withhold the exact circumstances of Lanyon's demise adds to the sense of mystery surrounding the story. By leaving certain details unexplained, Stevenson maintains a sense of suspense and allows readers to draw their conclusions. Other important details left unexplained at this point include the exact nature of Dr. Jekyll's experiments and the full extent of Mr. Hyde's influence on those around him. These unanswered questions serve to deepen the mystery and keep readers engaged as the plot unfolds.
In crafting the responses to the questions regarding "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," I considered several factors:
- Character Analysis : For the first question, I delved into the initial impressions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as portrayed in the first five chapters of the book. I focused on their outward behaviors, societal perceptions, and the contrasting qualities each character embodies.
- Narrative Context : When addressing the second question about Edward Hyde's potential return, I drew from the narrative's complexities, particularly the psychological struggle between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I emphasized the unresolved nature of their relationship and how it leaves room for speculation regarding Hyde's reappearance.
- Textual Evidence : In the third question regarding Dr. Lanyon's fate, I relied on textual clues and implications provided by Stevenson. I highlighted the suddenness and mysteriousness of Lanyon's decline, suggesting a possible link to the revelations he experienced regarding Dr. Jekyll's experiments. I also considered the author's deliberate omission of certain details to maintain suspense and engage the reader.
- Interpretation and Inference : Throughout the responses, I made interpretations based on the text's subtleties and underlying themes. For example, I inferred the psychological toll Dr. Jekyll's experiments may have had on Dr. Lanyon and speculated on the reasons behind Stevenson's narrative choices.
- Writing Structure : Each response was structured logically, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. I ensured that each paragraph addressed a specific aspect of the question and provided supporting evidence or reasoning to substantiate the argument.
Overall, the responses were crafted by synthesizing information from the text, making logical inferences, and considering broader thematic implications to provide insightful analyses of the characters and events in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
*Don't hesitate to ask if you need clarification.
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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Notes || Exam Prep || Character Profiles || Themes || Additional Reading & Videos
This topic is included in Paper 1 . You can find notes and guides for it below.
- Overview and Key Scenes
- Key Terms Flashcards
- Glossary of Key Terms
- Guide to Paper 1
- How to plan and write a top mark essay
- Question Bank - Characters
- Question Bank - Context
- Question Bank - Emotion and Tone
- Question Bank - Setting
- Question Bank - Themes
Additional Reading & Videos
- The strange double life of Robert Louis Stevenson
- Law, Science, Facts and Morals in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- The Beast Within
- A Study in Dualism: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- Duality in Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- The effect of Charles Darwin on Victorian literature
- Sigmund Freud and the Psyche
- Mr Utterson
- Appearance vs Reality
- Secrecy & Reputation
- The Gothic & Supernatural
- Revision Courses
- Past Papers
- Solution Banks
- University Admissions
- Numerical Reasoning
- Legal Notices
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Cultural Significance of the Novella Analytical Essay
Robert Stevenson’s novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has long attracted the attention of many film-makers, painters, and writers. The idea that several personalities can co-exist in a human being can greatly appeal to many people who may want to explore it in their works. This is why many films, comic books, or novel contain a direct or indirect reference to this novella. Moreover, this literary work has often been parodied.
This paper is aimed at discussing such a movie as Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde directed by David Price. The authors of this film do not focus on the moral duality of a person. Instead, they pay more attention to the idea that gender distinctions can often be artificially constructed ( Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde ). So, Stevenson’s work serves as a starting point for the movie, but the film-makers use it to express different ideas.
First, it should be noted that the movie tells the story of a perfumer Richard Jack who is a descendent of Dr. Jekyll. The main protagonist takes interest in the work of his ancestor and studies his notes. However, to his amazement, the substance invented by Dr. Jekyll turns him into a woman who calls herself Helen ( Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde ). Later she starts a career where Richard works and wants to replace him as a perfumer ( Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde ).
Certainly, this film relies on Stevenson’s novella, but the film-makers concentrate on how modern people perceive gender differences. In part, the film-makers want to explore some of the stereotypes popular in the modern society. For example, Richard Jacks wants to achieve success as the main perfumer of the company and become the owner of this business. Nevertheless, Helen’s intention to take over the company is perceived as vanity. So, the film-makers pay close attention to these stereotypes.
Special attention should be paid to one of the scene at the beginning of the film. When, Richard concocts the substance created by his ancestor, he drinks it ( Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde ). The film-makers are able to portray his horror when he understands that his experiment leads to unexpected results ( Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde ).
On the whole, it is possible to say that Stevenson’s work has been used in order to produce a comedic effect on the viewer. This scene completely contradicts the expectation of many people, but it is definitely worth attention, especially if a person wants to see how a literary work can inspire film-makers.
Certainly, the readers of Stevenson’s novella may be slightly disappointed by this film because they certainly expect to see the conflict between the good and evil within an individual. Certainly, the film uses the plot of the novella; nevertheless, it serves as a framework to explore different themes, especially popular views on the differences between two genders.
So, this discussion shows that Stevenson’s novella is still of great interest to film-makers. Certainly, there are many works that are inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and these characters can even be used for comedic purposes. The film that has been discussed here shows that this literary work can lay the basis for a comedy that does not necessarily explore ethical concepts.
Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde . Ex. Prod. Frank, Isaac. London: Savoy Pictures. 1995. DVD.
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IvyPanda. (2023, December 20). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Cultural Significance of the Novella. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-the-cultural-significance-of-the-novella/
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IvyPanda . (2023) 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Cultural Significance of the Novella'. 20 December.
IvyPanda . 2023. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Cultural Significance of the Novella." December 20, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-the-cultural-significance-of-the-novella/.
1. IvyPanda . "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Cultural Significance of the Novella." December 20, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-the-cultural-significance-of-the-novella/.
IvyPanda . "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Cultural Significance of the Novella." December 20, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-the-cultural-significance-of-the-novella/.
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