How the media changed The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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How the media changed The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Claudia Tegtman, Staff Writer

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What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the title “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”? For many the story of a man split in two comes to mind, a story about battling for control in one’s body and being split into good and bad halves. This results from the many spin offs of the story and the media for constantly spreading the other story themes around instead of the original idea.

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was published in 1885 by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story ended with only about 60 pages letting an average reader finish in less than an hour. Even though the story is short, it’s full of themes and symbols that the spin offs changed or ignored to create a “better retelling” of the story.

Originally, the story is about how a doctor by the name of Dr. Jekyll creates a substance that allows his more sinister side free, and when he returns to his original form as an esteemed gentleman he is neither charged from his crimes or left feeling guilty for them. Mr. Hyde wasn’t the bad outcome of a failed experiment because he was the result Jekyll was hoping for. Not only that, but since his sinister side looks as awful as its actions, he can strip off the face whenever he wants to wear a coat to look like himself again. Popular belief brings people to believe that Jekyll and Hyde are separate people and wonder who the “evil” one is when they are the same person and Hyde is just a mask Jekyll uses to release his frowned upon pleasures. It’s not like Jekyll doesn’t remember the misdeeds Hyde carried out because he literally is Hyde. It’s like when a kid puts on a costume and acts like a zombie- they’re still a kid, but for that moment they’ve put on a mask and can act like something else.

Since many people only pay attention to Jekyll because of his experiment, a very important character who goes by the name of Mr. Utterson is often forgotten. He is Jekyll’s close friend and pretty much the only person that suspects something is not right between Jekyll and Hyde. For most of the story Utterson believes that Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll for his wealth, and later believes that Hyde is trying to kill Jekyll because of the questioning contents of his will. His will states very clearly that if Jekyll were to die or disappear his estate and all of his wealth would be passed onto Hyde, so Utterson fears that Hyde saw the will and is planning out a murder. Utterson is the character that the story follows as he tries to help his friend and understand the puzzling situation laid out before him. Since the science is more supernatural, he never suspects a thing until Jekyll literally leaves a note out for him that explains everything to Utterson and the reader. In a way Utterson represents the reader because both are trying to put together the pieces while avoiding the possibility of something more supernatural.

Basically what this article is trying to convey is that many people have a distorted version of what actually happens in the story, which isn’t necessarily their fault. It’s a whole different experience to read this short story because it really does make one think about the morality of things. Since it’s such a short read pick it up, give it the chance it deserves, and obliterate the watered down version you might have known for so long!