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[T]he worst of my faults was a certain impatient gaiety of disposition, such as has made the happiness of many, but such as I found it hard to reconcile with my imperious desire to carry my head high, and wear a more than commonly grave countenance before the public. Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look round me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life. Many a man would have even blazoned such irregularities as I was guilty of; but from the high views that I had set before me, I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame. It was thus rather the exacting nature of my aspirations than any particular degradation in my faults, that made me what I was and, with even a deeper trench than in the majority of men, severed in me those provinces of good and ill which divide and compound man's dual nature. In this case, I was driven to reflect deeply and inveterately on that hard law of life, which lies at the root of religion and is one of the most plentiful springs of distress. Though so profound a double-dealer, I was in no sense a hypocrite; both sides of me were in dead earnest; I was no more myself when I laid aside restraint and plunged in shame, than when I laboured, in the eye of day, at the furtherance of knowledge or the relief of sorrow and suffering. And it chanced that the direction of my scientific studies, which led wholly toward the mystic and the transcendental, re-acted and shed a strong light on this consciousness of the perennial war among my members. With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.
    -Chapter 10: Henry Jekyll's Full Statement of the Case
Stevenson's great novella is more often cited than read, which leads to a good bit of misstatement of its central idea. For what Dr. Jekyll describes above, the duality of Man's nature, is truly the "hard law of life" and it is the attempt to escape our nature that makes him nearly as monstrous as Mr. Hyde, just as Dr. Frankenstein's attempt to supplant the Creator makes him a monster, as surely as his creation.

The duality of Man has been obvious since the Fall, that while we long to earn God's love, by following His commands, we find ourselves incapable of yielding to our passions and committing sin. For much of the Bible, God Himself keeps flogging at this mystery, imagining that He might destroy us and start over, getting it right next time, or binding us by formal Commandments or various covenants, but nothing works. Finally, He makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes mortal to better understand what it is to be Man. But the Gospels end in tragicomedy as, after trying to set us a blameless example of the life he intends for us, even He despairs of Himself on the Cross: "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?" Ultimately, this all too human experience serves to reconcile Him to our Nature and results in our gaining unearned Grace.

But it also means that the scientific project--literary or actual--that seeks to change our Nature or rescue us from it is exposed as so hubistric as to be demented. It is the claim that one is superior to God. So when Dr. Jekyll whips up a chemical concoction that will divide off the "evil" aspects of his self from the (relatively) good, it can help but end in tragedy. Inevitably, Mr. Hyde, pure appetite, gradually takes over and the unhappy life of the doctor and his alter ego is brought to an end. Icarus always falls.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Robert Stevenson (2 books reviewed)
Robert Stevenson Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Robert Louis Stevenson
    -WIKIPEDIA: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
    -AUTHOR SITE: Robert Louis Stevenson Website
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Robert Louis Stevenson (IMDB)
-AUDIO BOOK: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (LibriVox)
    -AUDIO BOOK: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (You Tube)
    -FILM: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) [Silent Movie] (You Tube)
    -TV VIDEO: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2003)
    -TV PLAY: Jekyll and Hyde: The True Story (2004)
    -ENTRY: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (British Library)
    -ENTRY: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: novella by Stevenson (Vicky Lebeau, May 14, 2020, Encyclopædia Britannica)
    -ENTRY: Robert Louis Stevenson (Charlotte Barrett, University of Oxford)
    -STUDY GUIDE: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Robert Louis Stevenson (Spark Notes)
    -STUDY GUIDE: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (
    -STUDY GUIDE: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (BBC: GCSE)
    -ETEXT: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Lit2Go)
    -TEACHER GUIDE: How to teach … The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: Our lesson resources and ideas will help you replace George, Lennie and Curley with Robert Louis Stevenson’s haunting tale (Zofia Niemtus, 12 Oct 2015, The Guardian)
-ESSAY: THE BIRTH OF AN IMMORTAL LITERARY CHARACTER: DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE: Leslie S. Klinger on Robert Louis Stevenson's most enduring – and unsettling – creation. (LESLIE S. KLINGER, 10/18/22, CrimeReads)
    -VIDEO LECTURE: Jekyll and Hyde: Science and Scandal (Caroline McCracken-Flesher, Department of English chair and professor, 12/05/11, University of Wyoming)
    -VIDEO LECTURE: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: understanding other people’s actions (Dr James Kilner, 20 Nov 2014, UCL Institute of Neurology)
    -VIDEO COURSE: Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Lecturer: Prof. Nick Groom – Exeter University)
-ESSAY: Henry and Louis An unlikely literary friendship (Max Byrd, November 18, 2021, American Scholar)
    -ESSAY: The Double Life of Robert Louis Stevenson: His books still live for children and, the author argues, for adults as well (MARGOT LIVESEY, NOVEMBER 1994, The Atlantic)
The blaze of hagiography in which he died seems to have incited critics to special fury. F. R. Leavis, in The Great Tradition, dismissed Stevenson as a romantic writer guilty of fine writing, and the critical community in general has designated him a minor author not worthy of the serious admiration that we accord his friend Henry James. People comment with amazement that Borges and Nabokov liked his work. This year marks the centenary of Stevenson's death, and I am not alone in believing that it is time to reconsider his reputation.

    -ESSAY: The story of Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde and Fanny, the angry wife who burned the first draft (John Ezard, 24 Oct 2000, the Guardian)
-ESSAY: Jekyll/Hyde (Joyce Carol Oates, Winter 1988, The Hudson Review)
    -ESSAY: Robert Louis Stevenson: 10 strange facts about Jekyll and Hyde author (Martin Chilton, 3 DECEMBER 2015, The Telegraph)
    -ARTICLE: The terrifying ‘psychopath’ who inspired ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde’ (Todd Venezia, November 6, 2016, NY Post)
    -ESSAY: The beast within: Freudian fable, sexual morality tale, gay allegory - Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novella of duality has inspired as many interpretations as it has film adaptations (James Campbell, 12 Dec 2008, The Guardian)
"Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" belongs to everyone who has ever referred to themselves in the third person, or cursed their own "split personality", or praised their "better nature". The poet Hugo Williams has compressed the essence into a single line - "God give me strength to lead a double life" - a plea to be in two places at once, not necessarily legitimately, without the inconvenience of a guilty conscience.

    -ARTICLE: Real-life Jekyll & Hyde who inspired Stevenson's classic (The Newsroom, 7th November 2016, The Scotsman)
    -ESSAY: A study in dualism: The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Shubh M. Singh and Subho Chakrabarti, July-Sep 2008, Indian Journal of Psychiatry)
    -ESSAY: The Sedulous Ape: Atavism, Professionalism, and Stevenson's "Jekyll and Hyde" (STEPHEN D. ARATA, Spring 1995, Criticism)
    -ESSAY: DUALITY: STEVENSON’S JEKYLL AND HYDE- A ‘FINE LINE’ DOESN’T EXIST (Madison Sullivan, December 12, 2019, British Literature Course Blog)
    -ESSAY: The Anxiety of the Unforseen in Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Ben D. Fuller, 2016, Inquiries)
    -ESSAY: The Creepy Cabinet That Inspired Jekyll and Hyde: How a piece of furniture informed an iconic horror story. (ERIC GRUNDHAUSER, OCTOBER 12, 2017, Atlas Obscura)
    -EXCERPT: Chapter 1 - Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde and the double brain (Popular Fiction and Brain Science in the Late Nineteenth Century, January 2012, Anne Stiles)
    -ESSAY: "Closer than an Eye": The Interconnection of Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Colin Manlove, 1988, Studies in Scottish Literature)
    -ESSAY: A Reading of Nabokov's "That in Aleppo Once..." (Alexander N. Drescher, Zembla)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov's lecture on Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Little White Attic, 4/05/15)
    -ESSAY: ‘The Shadow and the Law’: Stevenson, Nabokov and Dostoevsky (Rose France, 12/01/2018, Studies in Scottish Literature)
    -ESSAY: Two versions of death: the transformation of the literary corpse in Kafka and Stevenson (Chris Danta, 11 Aug 2006, Textual Practice)
    -ESSAY: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: A Case-Study in Translation? (Richard Scholar, 1998, Translation and Literature)
    -ESSAY: Dr Jekyll and a not so wicked Mr Hyde: how a portrait of evil was toned down (Dalya Alberge, 14 Apr 2012, The Observer)
    -ESSAY: The Stain on the Mirror: Pauline Reflections in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Kevin Mills, June 1, 2004, Christianity & Literature)
-ARCHIVES: Robert Louis Stevenson (The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES: "jekyll hyde" (JSTOR)
    -REVIEW: of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Ian Rankin, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Times [uk], 25 January 1886)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Andrew Lang, 1886, Saturday Review)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (April Edwards, Victorian Science Fiction)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (The long Victorian)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Laura, The Book Habit)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Victoria Addis)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (David Steffen, Diabolical Plots)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (A Literary Life)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (MuggleNet)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (rishika, Book Review Station)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Madi Ryan, Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde book)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Book Nook Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Creature from the Book Lagoon)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Zarah Parker, Memoir of a Writer)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Journal of Education, 9/01/1920)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Hans-Peter Breuer, MFS Modern Fiction Studies)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Victorian Reviews of Jekyll and Hyde: Observations and Reflections (Renata Kobetts Miller, Ph.D., Professor of English and Deputy Dean of Humanities and the Arts at the City College of New York)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Frances Carden, Readers Lane)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Fariba, Lit Explore)
    -REVIEW: of

Book-related and General Links:

-ESSAY: A Nietzschean Interpretation of the Self in Psychological Continuity (Harry P. Chalklin, 2019, Inquiries Journal)