Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: Novella and Movies

 In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson published Strange Case of  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is usually known as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It tells the tale of  Dr. Jekyll as seen by Mr. Gabriel John Utterson an attorney friend of Dr. Henry Jekyll that scrutinizes the odd manifestations betwixt the malevolent Mr. Hyde and Utterson's friend.


The theme of this novella is the fight between good and evil, although some have redacted the theme to concern a split personality. This modernest approach belies the moral theme, though it is clear that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are morally polar opposites. Stevenson had been pondering how to write a good story about the theme of good and evil for years. As a youth he penned Deacon Brodie; it is a play script about a deacon that has a secret life of thievery.

Utterson becomes concerned, after a relative tells him a story about Mr. Hyde and then Dr. Jekyll  abruptly redoes his will, so Mr. Hyde is the beneficiary of his estate. Gabriel Utterson is very leery of this change. He decides to investigate and see what is really going on. He noses around and locates Mr. Hyde. Utterson gets the creeps around Mr. Hyde, but quizzes him over the change in Dr. Jekyll's will, though Hyde is steadfast in his evasion of the truth.

A year passes and Mr. Hyde callously punches a man to death. The maid sees this incident and fingers Mr. Hyde. A man hunt ensues for the murderer, but they can't find him. Time passes, Dr. Landon become very sick from shock of knowing about Mr. Hyde.

Dr. Landon gives up the ghost leaving behind inscrutable documents with instructions to Utterson to open them upon Dr. Jekyll's death or if he vanishes. Utterson keeps visiting Dr, Jekyll, but he won't see him and Jekyll becomes a recluse.

Upon an evening, the butler of Jekyll decides to go see Utterson. He is vexed about Dr. Jekyll and thinks something is terribly wrong with the doctor, or dirty work has been done against his employer. He talks Utterson into going to Jekyll's home once more to invade the doctor's laboratory, and they discover Mr. Hyde laying deceased on the floor. They don't find the doctor.

Utterson takes the documents that reveal the truth of the mystery. Dr. Jekyll took an elixir to transmute into Mr. Hyde who became the embodiment of evil, and this transformation allowed the good doctor to indulge in various evil deeds, whereas he formerly spent a lot of time doctoring the poor for free.

Poster 1880's

Jekyll and Hyde Movies

This novella was among the first books that were fashioned into a movie. In 1912,  Blackhawk films adapted it for the screen. In 1920, Paramount released Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and three more film adaptions came out that year. The Paramount version starred John Barrymore, the renowned stage actor. This film inserted a music hall damsel into the story and made Dr. Jekyll much younger.

There are at least twenty movies based on the novella and many movie derivations like Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953), Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) in which the doctor mutates into a woman, and slasher fans can see Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957). The Nutty Professor is another version in which a cockamanny professor transforms into a cool dude. The estimate goes as high as 50 interpretations of Stevenson's  novella.

The physical aspects of the two main characters have been reversed in a couple of movie adaptions: The Two faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) and Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980). In the two faces version, the doctor is hairy, badly dressed, ill-mannered and rude, while Hyde is dressed well, well mannered, and urbane and in the hype version the doctor is unattractive and Hype is handsome.

Original Title Page

The versions and adaptions are growing as time passes because the tale's original theme lends itself to reconstructions, parodies, and adaptions, as the novella is rich in its use of a universal theme.

10 Interesting Trivia Points About the Story, Watch Video

The picture of Stevenson is public domain covered under {PD-US} – published before 1923 and public domain in the US. All picture or prints used are in the public domain.

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales (Oxford World's Classics)

Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical

Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Blackstone Audio Classic Collection)

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