Jun 22 2012 11:00am

What Everybody Gets Wrong About Jekyll and Hyde

And when I say everybody, I mean everybody. Not just most people today don’t understand the original story—though that’s true—but every retelling of the story, from the earliest stage plays to Steven Moffat’s otherwise brilliant miniseries Jekyll, misses a key point of Robert Louis Stephenson’s original story:

There is no Mr. Hyde.

Edward Hyde is not a separate personality living in the same body as Henry Jekyll. “Hyde” is just Jekyll, having transformed his body into something unrecognizable, acting on unspecified urges that would be unseemly for someone of his age and social standing in Victorian London (i.e. some combination of violence and sex. Torture is specifically mentioned).

Jekyll did not create a potion to remove the evil parts of his nature. He made a potion that allowed him express his urges without feeling guilty and without any consequences besmirching his good name. That’s also why he names his alter ego “Hyde,” because Hyde is a disguise, to be worn and discarded like a thick cloak. He might as well have called Edward “Mr. Second Skin,” or “Mr. Mask.”

It’s important that it’s Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Jekyll is a respected professor. Hyde is a lower class schlub. Hyde is also much younger than Jekyll. Both of these facts allow Jekyll as Hyde to get away with a lot worse behavior. 

Crucially, we never get Hyde’s point of view. Because it does not exist. Even when he looks like Hyde, Jekyll always thinks of himself as Jekyll. In his testament that ends The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll always talks about his time in Hyde’s body using “I” statements: I looked in the mirror and saw Hyde, the pleasures I sought in my disguise, I awoke to see I had the hand of Hyde. Even when describing the murder of Sir Danvers, the worst thing he ever does as Hyde, Jekyll says “I mauled the unresisting body” and then, “I saw my life to be forfeit.” That is, he both takes responsibility for the murder (and the pleasure it brought him) and has a very Jekyll-like fear of losing the good life he has. He is always Jekyll, no matter what he looks like, or how he’s behaving.

One source of the misinterpretation of the story is that Jekyll himself refers to Hyde as a separate person, an other, one who has desires and cares completely separate from Jekyll’s. Jekyll claims that while he may want to commit the sins of Hyde, Hyde doesn’t care about the friends, respect, wealth, or love that Jekyll needs. 

But Jekyll’s an extremely unreliable narrator in this respect, because his own account belies this conclusion. Not just specifically when recounting the times that he was disguised as Hyde and he still refers to himself as Jekyll, but because “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case” is written by Jekyll when he’s stuck in the body of Hyde. If there were ever a time for Hyde to exert himself, talk about himself as an autonomous being, it would be then. But he does not. Because he can’t. Because he does not exist.

The fundamental mistake most versions of Jekyll and Hyde make is not understanding that Jekyll wants to do all the things he does as Hyde. He loves being Hyde. He revels in the freedom of being Hyde and it’s only when the consequences catch up to him anyway that his duel personality becomes a problem for him. 

This fundamental mistake leads to further misunderstandings. First, Jekyll is not good. He’s not bad, either, so much as Jekyll is a deeply repressed man who has hidden his violent and sexual urges. His biggest sin is that he wants to face no consequences for anything he does.

Second, Hyde is not the accidental result of an unrelated experiment. Hyde is the absolutely intended result of Jekyll’s experiment. Hyde is not Jekyll’s punishment for playing God. Hyde is Jekyll’s reward.

Third, Jekyll is not unaware or out of control when he’s Hyde. He does not wake up with no memory of what happened the night before. He remembers perfectly everything he does as Hyde, because he was in control the whole time.

And finally, Hyde is not a monster. He’s not the grotesque pink giant Hulk of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or the super-fast, super-strong, super- handsome superhuman of Jekyll. He’s a nasty, brutish, and short ape-like man whose great advantage over Jekyll is that he’s young and seemingly lower class, and therefore can get away with a lot of shit.

Obviously, this rant is one hundred years too late to change the popular perception of this classic of horror. To most people, Jekyll and Hyde is the story of two completely separate personalities, one good and one evil, that share a body and are at war with each other, and that’s not going to change.

That said, I think the original is a much more complicated take on the nature of evil, society, shame, and repression than any that have followed it, and I’d love to see a version that really explored the appeal of Hyde to Jekyll. What would you do if you could be someone else for a night, do whatever you wanted to do, commit whatever sins you wanted to commit, without fear of consequences of any kind? Are we good because we want to be good, or are we good because we just don’t want to be punished?

The idea of evil as “that guy, over there, who takes over my body sometimes against my will” is too simple, and dissociative, and irresponsible. It’s the mistake Jekyll himself makes. Hyde is not someone else who commits Jekyll’s sins for him. Hyde does not exist. Jekyll commits all of his sins on his own.

Steven Padnick is a freelance writer and editor. By day. You can find more of his writing and funny pictures at

Ian Gazzotti
1. Atrus
I guess it's easier to believe that our evil side has a mind of its own
than acknowledge that we could (and would) do a lot of nasty stuff if we
knew we could get away with it. If Hyde is really Jekyll, then all our unrepressed thoughts are our own, not temptation from a devil outside.
2. Aaman
Interesting perspective. I would propose that the unassuming forensic blood-spatter expert/psychopath Dexter is a closer parallel to the Jekyll/Hyde amalgam than any other.
Mordicai Knode
3. mordicai
Counterpoint: there is no Jekyll. Jekyll is just Hyde, restrained by the conventions & force of society. Hyde is the true self, Jekyll is the face created in fear of the world's justice & punishment.
4. a1ay
Second, Hyde is not the accidental result of an unrelated experiment.
Hyde is the absolutely intended result of Jekyll’s experiment. Hyde is
not Jekyll’s punishment for playing God. Hyde is Jekyll’s reward.

This is completely at odds with the story itself: Jekyll writes
"It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; ...and I had learned to dwell with pleasure, as a beloved day-dream, on the thought of the separation of these elements. If each, I told myself, could but be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust delivered from the aspirations might go his way, and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil."

He definitely doesn't want to become Hyde - he wants to become Anti-Hyde. Jekyll believes he is made up of two personalities, one good and dominant (unnamed), one evil (Hyde). The combination, the composite as he calls it, is Jekyll. He develops his treatment because he wants to kill Hyde. In fact, all that happens is that he dissociates the two components of Jekyll, and Hyde, being more energetic, takes over the body completely. If things had gone as Jekyll had wanted, he'd have become a saint when he took the treatment.
Ian Gazzotti
5. Atrus
mordicai@3: Is there an actual difference? Every one of us shows a different self, or mask, depending on who you're with, where you are, what's the situation etc. There is no one true version of ourselves. Saying that Jekyll is a repressed Hyde or Hyde is an unrepressed Jekyll IMHO is pretty much the same thing.
The point of the article is that Jekyll or Hyde are not two separate entities, but just two masks of the same person.
Seth Ellis
6. seth_e
I was very suprised when I finally read the original story, having absorbed various adapatations, and found that this interpretation is actually true. It isn't a story about the duality of human nature, and it certainly isn't a story about being taken over by someone else for whom you aren't responsible; it's a story about hypocrisy.
Seth Ellis
7. seth_e
a1ay @4, I disagree--I think what Jekyll's saying in that very quote is that he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He doesn't want to give up the evil behaviour; he just wants to be able to get away with it, on a moral level as well as a legal one. The early descriptions of Jekyll as a sensualist support that, I think.

After all, there's already a path to being a moral being; don't do evil things. Jekyll didn't want to do that, he wanted an easier way out.
8. LameName
Having never read the original, I can't speak to the accuracy of this post as several other commenters have, but I think this is a fascinating perspective. If this interpretation is accurate, it presents a darker picture of humanity than I expected. After all, if Hyde is a separate monster, that is not indictment of humanity. Even if Hyde were simply the monster that existed within Jekyll that was loosed when Jekyll was stripped away, that would also not be as disturbing. Instead, this interpretation would say that not only is the monster inside us, but we would all act on these monstrous urges if only given the opportunity to get away with it. Creepy.
Aimee Powalisz
9. longhairedspider
Maybe I read the story too many times before seeing any adaptations of it, but I've never thought they were two people - it says so right in the book! The whole point is that Jekyll can do things as Hyde that, when he did them as Jekyll, were quite problematic. It's a disguise, albeit a really great one, that allows him to act on all of his baser urges.

I would also say that Hyde is both a punishment and a reward - he got what he wanted, but he was unable to control it. Kind of like a person who becomes an alcoholic. The Hyde persona was like alcohol: he would do it for a bit to get it out of his system, then go back to being the law abiding citizen. The Sir Danvers Carew episode is like an alcoholic who's been dry for a time going on a binge and getting into a fight.
10. StrongDreams
Wikisource has the original (public domain) text of the story for free,

There is also a free Kindle version on Amazon.
11. TLurker
Another possibility is that the "misunderstanding" of the original story is intentional. The majority of people don't actually want to think about the darker aspects of themselves as Them, they want it to be something Other that they can't control and therefore are not responsible for. That mentality is the cornerstone of the various adaptations of Jekyll & Hyde. When the first adaptation of the story was being considered, I'm quite sure it went something like:

"Hey, love this story! We should do something with it."

"Yeah, but I think we should make it so this Hyde guy is the evil part of Jekyll and he's uncontrollable."

"You're right, it would probably freak people out as is and people really like the Good/Evil stuff."

This is just my personal take on why the story was tweaked and if you look at modern movies it seems like a silly stance to take, however, if you consider the time when the story was written and the time of the first "misunderstanding" then you have to apply a completely different set of morals and world views. And that gives you a reasoning that is different from just about anything you would find in these modern times.
Robert Evans
12. bobsandiego
This strikes me as thematically the same as H.G. Wells'' The Invisible Man." The serum did not drive the scientist insane, it freed him from the consequences of his actions, and freed from those consequences he acted freely. Both stories would seem to have a very cynical view of humanity and that we behave only because we are afraid of punishment.
13. a1ay
The serum did not drive the scientist insane, it freed him from the
consequences of his actions, and freed from those consequences he acted

A concept not original to HG Wells. The original Invisible Man story was written about 2,500 years earlier, by Plato: the Ring of Gyges.

"Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other;,no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust."
14. Hedgehog Dan
"this rant is one hundred years"

Why do you call an intelligent, well-written essay a rant? O-o
You have good points, and I agree with most of them.
Danis Brunet
15. Danis
A similar tale was told on Star Trek in the episode “The Enemy Within” where, in that case, the Captain Kirk is split into two people: one “good” and one “bad”. The recap and analysis can be found on this site’s rewatch of that series:

The analysis makes some great points:
“This is essentially a variation on the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, forcing a man to confront his darker side quite literally, but what’s so interesting is that it posits that those base urges contribute to our better qualities, that when reason and intellect rule over desire, we can master them and be stronger for them. Strictly speaking, Kirk was bothof them. The good Kirk may have been able to survive without reuniting with his dark double, but he wouldn’t have been fit for command, or he may have been killed off fairly quickly on a mission.”
While in that story there are two separate people, I believe it is making a similar argument to that in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: we are both “good” and “evil” and it is our ability (presence of mind, social norms, laws etc.) to control and deal with the various aspects of our personality that determine our actions.

A similar story is told in Star Trek in the episode “Mirror, Mirror”, taking that argument further by exploring what the very same same people would do if the circumstances were different in order to allow “evil” to predominate:

In fact, the author’s analysis of that episode expresses my sentiment exactly:
“In a lot of ways this episode reminded me of “The Enemy Within” because it implies that within even the most merciful of us is the capacity to do terrible and violent things. Brutality and savagery are not external natures thrust upon us, they’re part of who we are, and while we may choose civility and fairness, our “wild” selves are still there, lurking beneath the surface.”
In that episode, the very same people behave in much more violent ways do to the nature of that universe. This episode also invokes The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and asks some interesting philosophical questions about the nature of “good” and “evil”, I believe, similarly to the exploration Nietzsche wrote about. It also poses interesting questions that some people have difficulty facing: that we all have “evil” thoughts and urges and that these are part of human nature as much as love and compassion.

@8. LameName: Do you mean “creepy” as the difficulty one might experience in managing the differences between how humans are, flaws and aggressive/violent tendencies and all, versus how we think we think we ought to be?

To me, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde illustrates human nature, all aspects, and how we conceive “good” and “evil”. These concepts are constantly evolving as we develop different “social contracts” on what we will accept and what we will not and why.
Victorian England must have been far less permissive than 21st century England. While certain things remain unacceptable (e.g. murder, theft, etc.) other things that were considered “evil” then may now be considered “good” now (or at least not “evil”) and vice versa.

@10. StrongDreams: thank you for posting the link!
Del C
16. del
Hyde is described as not just a shorter man than Jekyll, but physically a smaller one. I think big tall Stevenson was letting his prejudices show.
17. Tehanu
No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both comeat last to the same point.
Just because Plato said this doesn't make it true. I was horrified when I first read Plato in college after hearing him described as a "great philosopher" and realized that his philosophy was essentially fascist. Maybe Plato couldn't keep his hands off what was not his own; that doesn't mean nobody could.
18. Hedgehog Dan
"Hyde is described as not just a shorter man than Jekyll, but physically a smaller one. I think big tall Stevenson was letting his prejudices show."

The reason, why Jekyll was small, according to Jekyll, is that he represented his "dark side" - yeah, I know, but whatever -, and because Jekyll did not commit that much attrocities in his past, therefore Hyde was a "small part" of him (that is why he was also young). However, in the novel, it is also mentioned, that with each attrocity, Hyde grows more and more - that is how Alan Moore explains that he is a hulking brute in the LoEG, and it is in the comic book as well, twice - once Jekyll notes this in vol 1., and then Hyde mentions it to Nemo during a dinner scene.

So, I never viewed Hyde as an "evil dwarf", but as a "childlike creature in growing".
Andrew Mason
19. AnotherAndrew
Just because Plato said this doesn't make it true.

In any case, Plato didn't say it. He made a character say it in order to provide a challenge, which the rest of the work is then taken up with answering.
20. GuruJ
I'm surprised there's been no reference to The Nutty Professor yet, as films that I believe greatly influence modern versions of J&H.

What's particularly interesting is that the 1963 version by Jerry Lewis mostly takes the "original" approach – that Buddy Love is just a persona enabled by the drug – whereas the Eddie Murphy remake explicitly adopts the "modern" interpretation of Buddy Love being an alternate personality that wants to "take over".
Bobby Stubbs
21. Valan
Having never read the original story, I greatly appreciate this interpretation of it. Humanity itself holds all the ingredients for good and evil, which are ever-evolving concepts. Outside influences - whatever, Satan, magic, at times drugs and alcohol - that get blamed for bad decisions are excuses to somehow seperate ourselves from our own actions and internal desires. I think I will have to put this on my TBR list now.
Michael Grosberg
22. Michael_GR
After reading this article I decided to re-read Jekyll and Hyde. The article is essentially correct but it's not like J&H is the only case this has happened - modern cultures doesn't get any of the classic characters right, and it's mostly early Hollywood to blame. The Frankenstein monster could speak. Frankenstein did not have a hunchbacked assistant. Tarzan was not only eloquent, he was a veritable genius, learning the english language from a dictionary without even having the concept of written language explained to him. Dracula could walk in the sunlight (allbeit with reduced powers), and so on.
23. Hedgehog Dan
Michael_GR: totally agree. I also wish to add, that in most mythologies and folklores, werewolves were active during new, and not full moon (there are a couple examples for the other version as well, if I remember correctly, the werewolves of Breton is one, but they were hardly prevalent).
It is because moon is the symbol of wisdom, it lights through nights, and people in old ages had the time to speak about lofty topics after daytime chores, when the moon had already rised. So, when the moon waned, it was the time of creatures with basic instincts and urges, such as the werewolves (not to mention, that in contrast with full moon, a mere mortal can hardly see anything during new moon nights, therefore he is more of an easy prey for nocturnal predators). There is also the legend of the wolf eating the moon.
However, full moon provides way better visuals in a film than full... darkness, I guess. So, that is why we ended up with werewolves transforming during full moon.
Michael Grosberg
24. Michael_GR
Hedgehog Dan: In some ancient cultures (as far back as ancient Greece!) , the full moon was assumed to increase insanity somehow, hence the term lunatic. I would guess the origin of the connection between the full moon and werewolves has somethign to do with this.
25. John R. Ellis
"Counterpoint: there is no Jekyll. Jekyll is just Hyde, restrained by
the conventions & force of society. Hyde is the true self, Jekyll
is the face created in fear of the world's justice & punishment."

Why is it always the bad thoughts and desires deemed powerful and real, while the good stuff is just a layer of fluff on top?

I try and treat those around me right because I either love them (in the case of friends and family), or it makes me feel good (in the case of others). Not because I "fear punishment and justice."

I suppose there are many people like you deem Jekyll to be, but I'm betting there's also lots who are genuinely good people, not innate cowards.
26. Hedgehog Dan
Michael_GR: Well, that is a good point, too! :) (And regarding the term "lunatic", actually, you can find this logic behind words with similar meaning in other languages, such as, in Hungarian, "holdkóros" means "moonstruck", or, literally, "moonmad" or "moonsick", where "hold" is "moon" and "kóros" is "sick (of something)".)
28. a1ay
Just because Plato said this doesn't make it true. I was horrified when
I first read Plato in college after hearing him described as a "great
philosopher" and realized that his philosophy was essentially fascist.

Oh, definitely. I've no time for the philosophy that people are essentially wicked and are held in check only by the fear that someone (their neighbours, or the police, or Ceiling Cat) might be watching. Just pointing out the similarity with the Invisible Man.
Wells didn't believe it was true of all people either; but it makes a good story if it's true of the person who gets the gift of invisibility...
29. crashmstr
Interesting article, thanks.

As a small correction, it should be "dual personalities", not duel.
alastair chadwin
30. a-j
Interesting article. Thanks.

One thing I would adduce against the theory is this from Andrew Lang. It's hearsay of course, but it's one of my favourite quotes:

'He told me once he meant to write a story about a fellow who was two fellows, which did not, when thus stated, seem a fortunate idea'

One thing that supports the theory, I think, is that it is that the reader is not made aware that Hyde and Jekyll are the same person until the final part of the book. Up to then, the story seems to be about the mysterious hold evil Hyde has on respectable Jekyll.

Finally, it is well said that it is never, I think, specifically stated that Jekyll is good, he is respectable which is not the same thing.
31. Robert Paulsen
First rule about Fight Club: Nobody talks about Fight Club.
It is a modern take of Jekyll and Hyde.
32. FFredPalakon
I think you might find Jorge Luis Borges' review of one of the Hyde movies helpful, as he addresses many of the issues you bring up. One point on which he differs, is the emphais in the movie versions of the strong physical contrast, describing (disdainful of the concept) the movies' portrayal of Hyde as "negroid" in feature. I think he believed that Hyde should be malicious, and very much acting on his id, yet his physical appearance shouldn't connote this malevolence, and certainly racial prejudice should not play a part in what his appearance should be.

Another approach that contains much of what you've written here is in Mary Reilly, written by Valerie Martin, where a servant girl sees these two characters from the outside, and never connects them. It's fascinating, because if I remember, Reilly sees Hyde as just one more gentleman who thinks he can do with a woman whatever he likes, and she's rather naive in her view of Jekyll, unwilling to see him as anything but a spotless innocent.
34. spinn
I think They Might Be Giants worked this out with "My Evil Twin" some years ago.

And anyway, the title led me to believe that I was going to learn Jekyll was actually a lesbian ferret from Saturn, or something. Otherwise, this is a highly specific pet peeve that I am glad you likely do not have to endure often.
35. Dylan Mullaney
Either way, this series created the worst NES game of all time.
36. Al's other alias
Dude, nobody gets this wrong. The extent of Jekyll's agency in Hyde's actions is the central question of the book. Everybody gets it. Your theory - that he's entirely in control - is totally valid, but it's not laid out specifically in the book because Stevenson wants different conclusions to be possible.

Do you hang out with people who read, ever? Because nobody, seriously, misses this about Jekyll and Hyde. It's, like, super obvious.
37. Faze
This is all quite clear in the 1931 movie starring Frederick March. We see that he is a not-quite-as-good-as-he-appears man who is aware that he is repressing certain urges and would like to be able to excerise them without social consequences. The movie does not suggest that there are two different physical or moral entities at work. It's all Jeckyll all the way.
38. A.
Would it be ok with you if i quoted you in an essay? My Ela teacher spent many an hour lecturing us on APA so don't worry i'll give you credit and you will be on my referances sheet :)
39. Alii
I got the impression Hyde, though not separate in the way he is usually protrayed, is still distinct from Jekyll. He mentions that Hyde began to "resent" having to hide as Jekyll and was "refusing to be opressed". At first Hyde is just Jekyll's disguise, but gradually acts in ways that frighten Jekyll and thus becomes distinct. Also he doesn't write the statement as Hyde, but his last time as Jekyll as the hour of transformation is approaching. He also locks Hyde in the room, though Hyde has pretty much given up at that point and decides to commit suicide rather than being caught.
40. Tierra S.
While I very much agree with most of what you wrote there was one fact that was a little off and kind of still leads one to question whether Hyde was a seperate entity ripped from the mind of Jekyll, and thrust into it's own body..
When you said Jekyll is in Hydes body and writing his "full statement of the case" he wasn't..
Jekyll was still in Jekyll's body, and says within the book that the moment Hyde takes over he may rip up the statement..
Jekyll states how he sincerely hopes that doesn't happen because he wants Mr. Utterson to understand whats become of him.

However, there was a time when Jekyll was in Hydes body and managed to still force Hyde to go to Dr. Lanyon for a potion that would return him to his former self... but it's obvious he is slowly losing control, slipping away, becomeing only Hyde.

The book also states that "Hyde" is the embodyment of Pure evil, and "Jekyll" is both good and evil.
Jekyll wished that by creating Hyde and making the evil seperate from himself that he would end up with Jekyll as pure good, and Hyde as pure evil with no more conflicting emotions. However, that wasn't what happened. It didn't work out as he inteded.
43. Jesserz
Whilst I agree with the principle of this argument, I find that it is far too simplistic.
First of all, whilst it is easier to say that this book is about the innate 'good' and 'evil' of all humans, I find that it is much more complicated than that. To me personally, it is more like a critique of Victorian society (for example, Utterson, whilst saying that he hopes Hyde isn't blackmailing Jekyll, admits that he has committed misdeeds in his past) and how the people that are our superiors are supposed to be better than the rest of us and yet can be just as immoral as criminals.
I also find that the fact you say that he wishes to bear no consequeces for his not actually a fact. From what I can remember (I have read this book rather recently but long enough for some of the details to slip from my mind) he believes in the duality of human nature, he even states it himself when he says 'man is not one, but two'. He believes that there is an angel and a fiend fighting on the battleground that is the human soul. They fight for the mastery of this soul, thus explaining why these people who are supposed to be our betters indulge in their darker sides. He is obviously proved wrong when he carries out his experiments to prove his theory but ends up unleashing Hyde, who can be seen as the 'fiend' but he has no angelic counterpart, as Jekyll does not fully embody 'good'.
Thirdly, it is not so much that Hyde is seen as a different person from Jekyll, it is that he is the part of him that is the primitive being, or 'troglodyt' as Utterson calls him. He shows that he is primitive due to his impulsiveness. Whilst Jekyll enjoys the power that this gives him to begin with as he relishes in his achievement, he begins to let the primitive side of him take control and eventually, he loses it. Hyde isn't a seperate being per se, but is the embodiment of Jekyll's repressed primitive side.
My final part of opposition against this 'rant' is that Hyde doesn't have the cares that Jekyll has most of the time. He has the same desires, bt if he was as bothered about Jekyll's cares then he would stop himself from committing the attrocities that he does.
Whilst this is the way I see this novel, I suppose it is all a matter of perception. If people all read in the same way I suppose that this world would be a very debate-less place. So my conclusion is that Hyde, although not a seperate character from Jekyll (sort of, that matter is rather complicated but considering this idea came from a dream Stevenson had and the fact that it is a mystery, I think it was meant to be left open), there he does exist, in this novel at least and generally he does in all human beings if you want me to get into an in-depth meaning of this novel and it's characters, themes, motifs etc.
P.S. I apologize for any grammer/spelling errors. I have other things to do than check over my rants all day. Thanks!
44. Mustafa Cancan
This article is a very good analysis and has a good perspective. Helped very much. Thank you
45. Joshua Rea
Although primarily I agree with you, regarding the fact that Hyde is supposed to actually just be Jekyll, and it is not a dissociative break in the normal sense of the term, I feel like the fact that he has to take a potion to "transform" is enough to make the statement "there is no Mr. Hyde" misleading. Dr. Jekyll, when he has "turned off" the brain chemicals that make him moral and conscientious, is no longer Dr. Jekyll, because those brain functions are a part of what creates the whole. But yes, Hyde is and does what Jekyll wants to be and do.
Also, have you seen the musical? It doesn't embody this concept completely, but it does hint at it a little more heavily than most of the adaptations I have seen, particularly in the returning song "Facade."
46. Sp
Very profoun topic.
Answers many questions of my own.
Such as, why do we have a voice on either side in the first place, and why is one good, and one bad?
After reading simply twenty minutes of this article, it occurred to me how simple this really becomes.
Think about what make one smile, as well a frown. Both can be extremely intense to the point of complete insanity.
So yes. We all have this nature that gives us a conscience. The good side brings things we feel good about. The bad, something to pun intended.
So what voice wins in the end? Thats my favorite question.
Its the one we feed the most.
So then do we like who we are? And why? What voice do we "act" out?

47. Heath Davis Havlick
I read this book a couple years ago, not as a kid, and I totally got it that Hyde is Jekyll's guilty pleasure. I recommend the book, "The Deadliest Monster," which looks at this book & others from a religous worldview standpoint. Stephenson was a deeply spiritually conflicted guy; the book is HIS story.
48. AdriJB06
As a fan of Stevenson and his works I really enjoyed this article. The only problem that it has, in my opinion, is the selectiveness with Jekyll’s statement of the case. You make a good point in saying that Jekyll’s narration is unreliable, but you cannot categorize some parts of it as more reliable than others. It is true that Jekyll refers to the crimes in first person, but that could be because of many reasons. Another thing is that when Jekyll is writing the letter, he is still in his normal body. It is mentioned that because of the continued use of the draught, the regular state of form is Hyde’s body. The draught had to be taken constantly for Jekyll to return to his normal body and THIS WAS DONE BY HYDE. Hyde hated the position he was in and vandalized Jekyll’s property as a form of revenge. Hyde was the one who went to Dr. Lanyon’s to get the draught. Hyde was only doing this as an instinct of survival. As long as Dr. Jekyll was present he was safe from execution for the crimes commited. This is just my opinion on the book and could be wrong, but isn’t this, analyzing a book and discussing it, what is fun about it.
49. KLE
My narrative has hitherto escaped destruction. Should the throes of change take me in the act of writing it, Hyde will tear it in pieces.

This disproves your claim that Hyde is writing the confession.
50. Bryan Hyde
I am worried because my name is Hyde. No kidding! Is there any hope for me? LOL
51. Colin Sarff
I hate to burst your bubble- even if you're partially correct. The whole point of it is two sides fighting for dominance. Henry Jekyll creates a formula to test his theory of the dual nature of man. It works. Jekyll allows Hyde to commit some acts early on then realizes later on that Hyde is out of control.

Jekyll is not fully in control of these actions. This is not supposed to be put to a realistic standpoint since it is fiction. There is no possible way to tell if anyone got anything right or wrong about because this is all out of an author's own head- nothing more.

Although I would agree with you fully on it if there was enough evidence to substantiate your claim. Jekyll realizes the only way to stop Hyde is to kill himself so Hyde does not take control and does not do anymore damage.

Otherwise you do make excellent points.
53. Mendy
I stumbled across this while researching the book for a 3 Unit English assignment and enjoyed it a lot. I don't have the patience to read through all of the comments, but I really like Mordecai's idea that there may be no Jekyll, and that Dr Jekyll is just Mr Hyde who has been in hiding for a few years.
54. Martin K
Mr Hyde is simply the expression of an addictive personality. The whole story is about addiction (of any kind).
Craig Nakken tells you all about it in his brilliant book "The addictive personality", where Jekyll and Hyde also are mentioned.
55. MarkS
I believe that Mr Hyde is Doctor Jekyll with no inhibitions. Similar to a person a person who gets too drunk, its still them, they are not some other person yet they do things they would not normally do when thinking rationally. This is what i believe happens with Jekyll, in the paragraph written above somewhere it states "on the thought of the separation of these elements. If each, I told myself, could but be housed in separate identities, life would be
relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust delivered from the
aspirations might go his way, and remorse of his more upright twin; and
the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing
the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to
disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil." which shows Jekyll knows he has dark or impure thoughts and that his experiment was to seperate himself into two seperate people one pure good and one who has all the dark, impure thoughts. This is where i think most reditions take their plot and that it only half works creating the dual identities only not creating another body. However in the book i believe that when he transforms it removes his better judgement (similar to overly drunk people) and so acts with only on those impure thoughts driving him without thinking of the consequences and as i said before he would still be the same person just with no inhibitions and so he would obviously feel responsible for those crimes and refer to himself as Jekyll when in first person as Hyde is not truely a seperate identity but Jekyll with no inhibitions on sinful actions.
56. Gregory Bronson
You point out some important points of misunderstanding about the novella. However, I think you leave out some important points, too. It is true that Hyde is fully present within the person of Jekyll, but it is not true that Hyde is only a physical transformation.

While I can agree that Jekyll is somewhat of an unreliable narrator (though not a very unreliable narrator, as you characterize him), his final confession is not written in the body of Hyde. Hyde has no desire to confess his sins, as it is made clear that Hyde has no conscience to clear. Jekyll specifically says that he fears Hyde will tear up his confession if given the chance, and this also speaks to the basic nature of the two personalities. Hyde is Jekyll's sinful, uncivilized nature made manifest--this really could not be more clear in the novella.

While indeed the vast majority of adpatations ignore half the novel, your interpretation ignores the other half, which is just as bad.
58. imo
the essence of well being are our feelings and we act according to those, but as we grow up and build our lives around them, we are confronted with "identities", which, as we begin to experience as an adult, can apparantly have an impact on feelings and even dig out buried ones, that do not function in society

jeckyl n hyde shows that 1st confrontation with such an identity awareness

the person is the same, but there are in fact 2 identities with distinct preferences, a baby and a tiger, if u want so

the tiger will jump into any fire, while the baby doesnt even like the thought of it and ultimately both feel different about the situations, they go through, despising or enjoying

those feelings are, that one acts upon and thats why the identities should be seen as something different
61. Janne Wass
modern cultures doesn't get any of the classic characters right, and it's mostly early Hollywood to blame. The Frankenstein monster could speak. Frankenstein did not have a hunchbacked assistant. Tarzan was not only eloquent, he was a veritable genius, learning the english language from a dictionary without even having the concept of written language explained to him. Dracula could walk in the sunlight (allbeit with reduced powers), and so on.
Actually in these cases Hollywood is not to blame - it is theatre that is to blame. ;) In both the case of Dracula and Frankenstein, the films are basically carbon copies of popular plays. In the case of Frankenstein, the film is based on a 1927 play, that is in turn based on another 1823 (yes, 1823) play called Presumption, that made the creature into a mute brute. The play also introduced the hunchbacked assistant Fritz, and even added the line "It lives! It lives!" - very much like Colin Clive shouting "It's Alive! It's Alive!" The 1823 play was a musical comedy.

OK, so in the case of Tarzan, Hollywood really is to blame - but on the other hand, Burroughs wasn't really in the literary league of Stephenson or Shelley, either ...
62. Mr.Jekyll
I difinitely agree that one might say that Dr. jekyll did both succeed and fail in his attempts to proof the co-existence of good and evil in the human mind: While Hyde represents only evil and has no counterpart (which, in my perspective -is also a warning that his experiment can and will provoke an inbalance) , Jekyll is STILL both good and evil. He, at one hand, wish to release his primitive instincs and wild and cruel sites and ALLOWS it to do so, thinking this would encounter his ego to act "better"/ "less evil" when his "evil site" is NOT in demand.
On the other hand, exactly doing so, he looses control because for so many years hes dark sites have been suppressed at an unnatural level and therefore gains control in order to make a balancae between the bright and dark site of his soul.

Facing the fact that actually separating good and evil of the human kind is impossible in any kind of way (and is MEANT TO BE -because of the natural balance between good and evil) -suicide is a natural consequence and end and the only way out for him: To get rid of "evil" you also have to get rid of "good" -and thus, to stop Hyde -who IS Jekyll, suicide is his only way out of his escalating lack of control. A lack of control unintentionally provoked by Jekylls idea that separating the evil site from the good in himself would be the result. So -I guess, if you tried to suppress and/or remove the good site, the good site would resist and take control. but then again: Being "good" includes good intentions, not being selfish and good actions as well, while the devil/evil takes any given chance to take control and acting all selfish ONLY for the sake of his own servival and to eliminate any resistance. the "good" would -and will -accept resistance and not only acting for his own sake adn survival. At some level, I have learned that Jekyll IS actually acting kind of selfish when wanting to release his dark, suppressed self to balance himself -even if hurting or murdering others...Conclusion once again: Try to separate good and evil entirely and you will always fail. In other words: His experiment ended up as a dead end...good and evil co-exist just as well as black/ white, light/dark and so on...
63. voilodion
Have you seen every adaptation out there? Just the other night I was watching the Jack Parlance 1968 version of the story and its quite clear in there that Jekyll and Hyde share the exact same consciousness/mind/memories/etc.; its just that Hyde allows Jekyll a way to funnel all his hidden desires without (as you've said) fear of reprisal. A character even makes it clear at the end that Jekyll is ultimately the one responsible for everything and Hyde is just a red Herring to mask all his sins.

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