Jekyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Two rings surrounding a person on a purple background.  Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white symbol, that has a black play symbol in the middle.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (often reduced to Jekyll & Hyde) has the distinct honor of entering the English vernacular as a reference to dual nature – good and evil, or two sides of the same coin. On one hand, you have the good Dr. Henry Jekyll; on the other hand is his alter-ego, Edward Hyde.

Stevenson drew inspiration from several sources. One was Deacon Brodie, a Scottish cabinet-maker and city councilor who during his “me” time was also a housebreaker – a burglar, in the common tongue. This dichotomy of character – on one side, a respectable public figure and on the other, someone who burgles people to fund his own gambling habit – interested Stevenson greatly. How could such a good man live such a double life? Another inspiration came in the form of Eugene Chantrelle, a French teacher & friend of Stevensons who was later hung after having been convicted of murdering his wife, Elizabeth Dyer. Stevenson found himself shocked that a person of such respect could commit acts so heinous (Chantrelle, it was thought, had murdered many more people before his wife).

The duality of human nature, as well as the private nature of a person, are two of the more obvious themes of the book. How one presents themselves in public is not always congruent with their private personalities. While most are not as different in their personalities as Jekyll is from Hyde, there are differences. The subtleties between the public and private self bridge the two to form the person in whole. Whether they think that is an accurate representation of themselves, however, is another matter entirely.

If you want a physical copy of the book, you can purchase it here. If you want to enjoy some movie adaptations, here are a few. That does not begin to cover it. There are more than 100 films and countless other adaptations, derivations, and other works influenced by Jekyll & Hyde.