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Encyclopedia > Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll1and Mr. Hyde (often condensed to simply Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) is a novella written by Robert Louis Stevenson about a lawyer, Charles Utterson, who investigates the strange link that the misanthropic man Edward Hyde has to his friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll. It was first published in 1886 without the initial determiner "The".

This investigation begins as a matter of curiosity and concern despite 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. As Utterson assists in the investigation of the crime, Jekyll becomes more and more reclusive and sombre as Utterson comes to believe that the doctor is abetting Mr. Hyde.


Eventually, Jekyll isolates himself in his laboratory gripped with an emotional burden that no one can comprehend. Another friend of Utterson, Lanyon, suddenly dies of a horrific emotional shock of 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 from suicide and Jekyll nowhere to be found.


Eventually, Utterson reads two letters left him from his deceased friends. The first one is from Lanyon and reveals that he witnessed first hand 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 realized 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 polarize 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. After a few trial runs as Hyde, Jekyll soon began to undergo this change regularly in order to indulge in all the forbidden antisocial pleasures that he would never commit as Jekyll. However, the Hyde aspect himself began to grow stronger and beyond Jekyll's ability to control it with a counter-agent. After Hyde's murder, Jekyll decided to stop taking the potion, but eventually the addiction to the Hyde form proved too strong to resist, and he took the potion again. Jekyll eventually began to change into Hyde without the potion, and the potion's counter-agent began to lose its effectiveness until Jekyll could only remain in his original form while the potion was in his system. Eventually Jekyll ran out of the unique components to the potion, which would leave him as Hyde permanently; thus he decided to commit suicide as Utterson and the butler entered the lab.


Legacy

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 "representative of the Victorian Era" as it had a tendency for social hypocrisy. The story has been adopted in numerous stage and film productions.


The most famous modern adaptation of this story is the comic book character, The Incredible 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.


There have been a number of film adaptions of the novel, some of which (such as Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde, one of two in which Hyde is a woman) update the story to the present day.


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.


Notes

1 Stevenson insisted that Jekyll be pronounced gee-kill, as this is the correct Scottish pronunciation of the name.


External links

  • Free eBook of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/42) at Project Gutenberg — first version.
  • Free eBook of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/43) at Project Gutenberg — second version.
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (http://robert-louis-stevenson.classic-literature.co.uk/the-strange-case-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde/) in HTML format

  Results from FactBites:
 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson: A searchable online version at The Literature Network (2836 words)
Hyde.' The story is told from the point of view of John Utterson, a lawyer and friend to the brilliant scientist, Dr. Henry Jekyll.
Jekyll however, in line with the Victorian ethos of discovery and adventure in both science and everyday life, is determined to discover new horizons and areas of study.
Jekyll is pleased and feels liberated when he is Hyde but this is too much for the traditional ethics and mind set of Lanyon and he dies as a result of shock when seeing the transformation.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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