Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the original title of the 1886 novella by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. It is more commonly referred to today as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or simply Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The story is based around the idea that each person has two sides to his or her nature, a good one and an evil one. Dr. Henry Jekyll invents a formula that brings out the neglected evil side of his nature, described as being younger and shorter than Jekyll and also extremely ugly. Jekyll gives his evil persona the name of Mr. Edward Hyde.
The phrase "Jekyll and Hyde' has entered the English language, meaning someone who appears to have two very distinct personalities and whose behavior may change suddenly and unexpectedly.
Plot of Stevenson's book
One evening in the late nineteenth century, Richard Enfield is walking through the streets of London with his relative, the lawyer Gabriel John Utterson. Enfield tells Utterson that a few weeks earlier he was in the same part of the city and saw a man knock down a little girl and walk over her. The girl's family and their friends confronted the man, overpowered him and demanded money by way of an apology. The man, who gave his name as Edward Hyde, entered a door in the side of a building and returned with ten pounds in gold and a check for a hundred pounds signed by Dr. Henry Jekyll. Utterson is shocked to hear this because Dr. Jekyll is a client of his and Jekyll has recently changed his will to leave everything that he has to Edward Hyde.
Utterson, out of concern for Dr. Jekyll, decides that he needs to seek out Mr. Hyde. Night after night he waits by the door that Enfield told him about and eventually sees Hyde approach it. Utterson finds Hyde extremely ugly and is instinctively repulsed by him. Nevertheless, he tells Hyde that they have a mutual friend in Dr. Jekyll and asks for Hyde's address. To his surprise, Hyde is perfectly willing to give it to him. Utterson later tells Jekyll of his concerns but Jekyll tells him that he does not need to concern himself over Mr. Hyde.
One year later, a servant girl sees the politician Sir Danvers Carew, another client of Utterson, beaten to death with a heavy walking stick. The police contact Utterson, he suspects that Edward Hyde is involved and leads them to Mr. Hyde's apartment. Hyde is not there but Utterson finds half of the broken walking stick. He recognizes it as one that he gave as a present to Dr. Jekyll.
Utterson visits Jekyll again. Jekyll tells him that he has decided to have no further contact with Mr. Hyde. He shows Utterson a letter, which he says is from Hyde, in which Hyde apologizes for the trouble he has caused and says good-bye. However, when Utterson shows the letter to his clerk, the clerk points out that Hyde's handwriting looks very similar to Dr. Jekyll's.
For a while, Henry Jekyll returns to being the happy and sociable person that he had been before Hyde entered his life but then he suddenly begins to refuse all visitors. One evening, Enfield and Utterson see Dr. Jekyll at the window of his laboratory. The three men talk for a while, until Henry Jekyll suddenly appears scared, slams the window shut and disappears.
Mr. Poole, Dr. Jekyll's butler, goes to visit Utterson. He says that Dr. Jekyll has been locked inside his laboratory for weeks. Poole adds that the voice that comes out of the laboratory does not sound like the doctor's anymore. Utterson accompanies Poole back to Jekyll's house. They find Jekyll's other servants huddled together in fear and decide to break the laboratory door down. Inside the laboratory they find the dead body of Hyde, who appears to have committed suicide, and a letter from Jekyll to Utterson which promises to explain everything.
In the letter, Jekyll tells Utterson about his experiments that he hoped could rid people of evil impulses. He created a formula which separates his good side from his wicked side. The experiment is not a complete success because, as Dr. Jekyll, he is still not completely good. However, Jekyll enjoys taking the formula and changing into Mr. Hyde because Hyde has none of Jekyll's moral constraints.
When Jekyll wakes up and finds that he has transformed into Mr. Hyde in his sleep, without taking the formula, he discovers that he does not have complete control over his creation. He avoids taking the formula for many months but eventually he is not able to control the urge any longer. He transforms into Hyde and murders Sir Danvers Carew.
After the murder, Jekyll resolves never to change into Hyde again. He tries to make up for what he has done by helping the poor. One day he is happily thinking about what a good person he has become, then looks at his hands and finds he has become Hyde. This is the first time that he spontaneously becomes Mr. Hyde, now a wanted murderer, in the daytime.
Jekyll turns into Hyde more and more often and needs larger and larger doses of the formula to change back. The formula starts to run out and Jekyll needs to make some more. Unfortunately, the new batch of formula does not work. Jekyll eventually discovers that there was an impurity in one of the ingredients of his first batch of formula. It is impossible for him to replicate the formula and he realises that he will soon be trapped as Hyde forever.
Having run out of the formula that can change him back, Dr. Jekyll knows that the next time he changes into Hyde he is doomed. Hyde will either be arrested and hanged for murder or he will avoid that fate by committing suicide. Dr Jekyll does not know what Hyde will choose to do but he ends his letter, and the novella, with the words, "I bring the life of the unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end."
The story of Jekyll and Hyde has been adapted for the theater, turned into radio plays, television series and specials, animated cartoons, comic books and movies. There are one hundred and twenty-three different film versions. Unlike in the original novella, in which Utterson discovers that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person towards the end, there is susually no mystery about Hyde's true identity in adaptations. In film and television adaptations, Jekyll and Hyde are usually played by the same actor. Many adaptations remove the character of Utterson and narrate the entire story from Jekyll's perspective. A romantic element, completely missing in the novella which has no major female characters, is often added, Jekyll usually being in love with one woman and Hyde with another.
The first serious stage adaptation of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was written by Thomas Sullivan and first staged in Boston, Massachusetts in 1887. The play was continuously performed in the United States and Britain for the next twenty years and became forever associated with the British actor Richard Mansfield, who continued to play the roles of Jekyll and Hyde until his death in 1907. Sullivan's play was the first version of the story to introduce love interests for Jekyll and Hyde.
Seven different silent movie versions appeared between 1908 and 1920. The most highly regarded of those is the 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring John Barrymore. The 1920 film was based on Thomas Sullivan's play, and was consequently the first film version to introduce a romantic elemenet, it also incorporates elements and characters from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Thomas Sullivan's play was also the basis of the 1931 Hollwood movie Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring Frederic Marsh and its 1941 remake starring Spencer Tracy. The 1931 version is usually considered to be the better of the two, often attributed to the fact that it was made before Hollywood's self-censoring Hays Code was strictly enforced.
Britain's Hammer Film Productions, which made dozens of horror films between the late 1950s and early 1970s, including several movies based around the characters of Count Dracula and Baron von Frankenstein, made three different versions of the Jekyll and Hyde story. Strangely enough, Hammer never filmed a straight version of the story. All three versions-The Ugly Duckling (1959), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)-sought to put a new spin on the familiar tale.
The Ugly Duckling is a comedy starring the British comic actor Bernard Bresslaw as the shy and clumsy Henry Jekyll who transforms into the charming and popular Teddy Hyde. Eventually, popularity is not enough for Teddy Hyde and he seeks the thrill of becoming a master criminal.
In The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (released in the US as House of Fright and Jekyll's Inferno) Henry Jekyll is a short, unattractive, middle-aged man whose wife is being unfaithful to him. He transforms into an Edward Hyde who is younger, more handsome, more charismatic and (even though both parts are played by the same actor, Paul Massie) appears to be taller than Jekyll. Hyde intends to replace Jekyll permanently. He kills his lover, Jekyll's wife and her lover and frames Jekyll for the killings. He appears to have gotten away with his crimes until he spontaneously changes back into Jekyll in public and is arrested for murder.
In Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde the formula changes Henry Jekyll (played by Ralph Bates) into Mrs.Emma Hyde (played by Martine Beswick). Jekyll claims that Hyde is his widowed sister. In the form of Emma Hyde, Jekyll carries out the Jack the Ripper murders, in order to get the women's organs that he needs for his experiments. The famous Scottish grave robbers Burke and Hare are also introduced into the story. The idea of Jekyll turning into a woman when he takes the formula was used again in the 1996 American movie Dr. Jekyll and Ms Hyde.
The 1971 British/French movie I, Monster stars Peter Cushing as Utterson and Christopher Lee as the good doctor and his monstrous alter-ego. It is one of the most faithful adaptations of Stevenson's novella but curiously, although the other characters have the same names that they have in the book, Dr. Henry Jekyll is renamed Dr. Charles Marlowe and Mr. Edward Hyde's name is changed to Mr. Edward Blake.
Valerie Martin's 1990 novel Mary Reilly retells the Jekyll and Hyde story from the point of view of an Irish servant girl in Jekyll's house. A movie based on the novel was filmed in 1996, starring Julia Roberts as Mary Reilly and John Malkovich as Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde.
- The Annotated Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, full text of the novella with footnotes, on Wikisource.
- Free public domain audiobook of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from LibriVox.
- "Dr. Henry Jekyll (character)" on the Internet Movie Database.
- Videos of the silent movies Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) on Wikimedia Commons.
- Edward Hyde on Villains wiki.