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There is no Mr. Hyde
August 8, 2012 1:55 PM   Subscribe

From TOR.com: 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.
posted by the man of twists and turns (208 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always thought it was an allegory for addiction.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:58 PM on August 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Everybody isn't Everyone.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:58 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have never met a single person who gets this story wrong in the manner this writer describes. And I teach the damn thing.
posted by Catchfire at 1:59 PM on August 8, 2012 [57 favorites]


When he says everybody, does he mean Edge of Sanity? It's been a long time since I saw it, but I'm pretty sure it got that part right.
posted by The World Famous at 1:59 PM on August 8, 2012


What would be nice would be an example -- just one -- of this 'everybody' that the author is addressing. Because I can't think of anyone who's misunderstood the story in this way.
posted by .kobayashi. at 2:00 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's no Robert Louis Stephenson either right enough :)
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:01 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


... I misunderstood the story in the manner the author describes.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:02 PM on August 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have not read the original, but I have misunderstood the story in this way, more or less because the references I have seen tend to read the apparently incorrect way the author describes.
posted by weston at 2:02 PM on August 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


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

Well, duh. Did anyone think otherwise?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:03 PM on August 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yeah, what fuck? I taught this story to 400 fairly apathetic non-English-majors, and they all got it.

Even the ones who fell for the trick question about "Who played Frankenstein in the 1931 James Whale movie?" and picked "Boris Karloff" instead of "Colin Clive" got that Mr. Hyde was Dr. Jekyll giving himself permission to be an evil fuck.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:06 PM on August 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think what the article is pointing out is not that the average reader taking a more than cursory look into the novel would is unable to get this but that many ADAPTATIONS seem to take the story and turn it into some Victorian version of The Hulk and that this type of story is the one known by many who have not actually read the story. This is similar to how many people think of Frankenstein's monster as a grunting beast and not a self taught, eloquent fan of Milton.

A great retelling/adaptation that plays with this misunderstanding and manages to further explore some of the issues of class, gender etc. brought up in Stevenson's original is Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly. When I had to read Jekyll and Hyde back in college our professor paired it with Martin's. It's quite a worthwhile read.
posted by sendai sleep master at 2:07 PM on August 8, 2012 [29 favorites]


Well, there may well have been lots of people named "Robert Louis Stephenson," but none of them wrote "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"!
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:08 PM on August 8, 2012


I am surprised to see some many people denying that the misunderstanding he is talking about is a common one. It was certainly my impression of the plot before I finally read it last year, and it's absolutely how every dramatic retelling of the story portrays things--innocent, gentle Jekyll, whose body is taken over by Hyde, a wholly distinct personality over whom he has no control (and, in some versions, whose actions he cannot even remember.) I would venture that this perception of Jekyll and Hyde is about as common as the misperception that the Bible depicts Noah taking two of every animal onto the Ark.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:08 PM on August 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


You people need to RTentireFA. The thesis is really at the end, not the beginning:

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.

People absolutely make this mistake all the time when they say things like "it's a total Jekyll and Hyde situation with Dennis over there" etc. In fact, that's what I thought the story was about until I read it, that some guy invented a potion that turned him into a monster he couldn't control.

I actually read this story for the first time about a couple years ago, as my bookish eldest sister finally got me reading some classic short stories. Chilling to the bone.
posted by King Bee at 2:09 PM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


The reading he gives is what I always took to be what the story was about, and it's certainly a lot more interesting than the usual take. Interestingly, it winds up having more or less the same central, Burkeian message as that other early science-fiction work, The Invisible Man: that it's only the highly stratified system of class-based shame and guilt that prevents the upper classes from devolving into wild debauchery.

He probably overstates the case by claiming that everybody gets it wrong (and it's definite MetaFilter bait to phrase it that way), but it's true that the usual pop-culture interpretation reads the novella as an allegory about how all of us harbor a separate dark persona inside of ourselves, not that it's only the accountability we have because of our unchanging appearance that holds us back from behaving badly. I mean, every movie and TV adaptation I can think of presents this as the story. I'd be interested if anyone knows an interpretation of the story that goes with the "Hyde is Jekyll" viewpoint, I've never seen one.
posted by whir at 2:09 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Clearly by "everybody" he means people (like me) who have never actually read the original.
posted by ckape at 2:09 PM on August 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


some Victorian version of The Hulk

Hang on to your hats, folks. Bruce Banner and the Hulk are the same person!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:10 PM on August 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


Or people who have only seen "The Nutty Professor" (1996 version, of course)
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 2:11 PM on August 8, 2012


FIVE THINGS YOU FUCKING IDIOTS DEFINITELY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT LOBSTERS.

1. Lobsters are a type of crustacean.
2. Lobsters are normally brownish and only turn red once boiled.
3. Most lobsters sold in the US are caught in the state of Maine.
4. Lobster traps are called "pots."
5. The French word for lobster is "homard."
posted by theodolite at 2:11 PM on August 8, 2012 [50 favorites]


I regularly teach Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to classes of lobsters, and everyone of them knows every fact in this thread.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:14 PM on August 8, 2012 [44 favorites]


The class issues in the text make for much more interesting reading then the usual "Victorian Hulk" adaptations.
posted by The Whelk at 2:14 PM on August 8, 2012


"There is no Mr. Hyde."

That's the friggen point of the whole story. Or perhaps the point is "there is no Dr. Jekyll".
posted by Termite at 2:16 PM on August 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


. The French word for lobster is "homard."

Fucking french. on Iron Chef they always said "homard lobster" so I thought homard was a specific kind of french lobster, somehow different from lobsters caught off the coast of America. One day it came up in conversation somehow and I looked like an idiot.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:16 PM on August 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wow, that was spot on - and it makes the whole story much creepier.
posted by Xoebe at 2:16 PM on August 8, 2012


I see the author's point, but I think he overstates it. Modern takes on Jekyll and Hyde emphasize the "mad scientist" aspect, so, yes, I think there is a general misunderstanding about the story in the pop cultural zeitgeist.

But there's also the general misunderstanding that Frankenstein has bolts in his neck and can't speak. That doesn't mean everybody gets it wrong, it means that most people are more familiar with the adaptations.

(On preview, it's a small world, ain't it sendai sleep master?)

Furthermore, the author confuses his own argument. If "Hyde does not exist" how can he be younger and of lower class than Jekyll?
posted by Boxenmacher at 2:17 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]




What everybody gets wrong about Buddhism: The is no self.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:18 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I'd always read it as the transformation revealing different, suppressed aspects to his personality. That he was just off having his jollys having taken a disguise potion never occurred to me. Seems a bit boring TBH.

Also don't we have the Invisible Man for "anonymity makes you crazy evil!" ?
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So is the Tweety bird in Hyde and Go Tweet in control of his actions and finally able to enact them when he turns into the monster or does the potion force him to act against his nature?
posted by mazola at 2:19 PM on August 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


In the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic, Hyde rhetorically asks some folks why they suppose it is that he is so big and powerful, while Jeykll is so little and sickly. He then explains that it's because without Hyde, Jeykll has no drives; and without Jeykll, Hyde has no inhibitions.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:20 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also don't we have the Invisible Man for "anonymity makes you crazy evil!" ?
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on August 8 [+] [!]


That and the internet.
posted by Boxenmacher at 2:22 PM on August 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


> some Victorian version of The Hulk

THRILL to the adventures of the Victorian Hulk as he REMOVES HIS GLOVES while making a social call, TURNS HIS CHAIR so his back faces ANOTHER GUEST, and ALTERS THE ARRANGEMENT OF A ROOM WHILE VISITING!
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 2:22 PM on August 8, 2012 [77 favorites]


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

There is no "The". That was added by later publishers. Stevenson titled it without, perhaps to make it seem more strange. It's hard to speak authoritative on the work and get the title wrong (though it is something most people get wrong).
posted by stbalbach at 2:24 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


What everybody gets wrong about Buddhism: The is no self.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:18 PM on August 8 [+] [!]


And since there is no self, I guess there can be no eponysteria.

Re the FPP link, the view of the story seems right to me but he's making a bigger and more pedantic deal than he needs to out of how people get it "wrong."
posted by aught at 2:25 PM on August 8, 2012


FIVE THINGS YOU FUCKING IDIOTS DEFINITELY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT LOBSTERS.

1. Lobsters are a type of crustacean.
2. Lobsters are normally brownish and only turn red once boiled.


WHAT COLOR IS THE COUGAR? GOLD? NO! BROWN? NO! RED? NO! THE ANSWER IS TAWNY.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:25 PM on August 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


. The French word for lobster is "homard."
Fucking french.


"Boy, those French, they have a different word for everything!" -- Steve Martin
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:26 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So Hyde was originally smaller than Jekyll? Wait trick question there is no Hyde. But still, riiiight??
posted by SharkParty at 2:27 PM on August 8, 2012


Furthermore, the author confuses his own argument. If "Hyde does not exist" how can he be younger and of lower class than Jekyll?

He confuses nothing. He is describing Jekyll's alternate appearance that pretends to be Hyde. He puts it that way so he doesn't have to put it in those words all the time, which gets unwieldy.
posted by JHarris at 2:28 PM on August 8, 2012


What Everybody Gets Wrong About Jekyll and Hyde: 'And when I say everybody, I mean everybody.'

Jekyll was really a Doctor of Divinity. Hyde was really original sin. Mary Reilly was really Mary Magdalene. O'Reilly? Yes, Reilly.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:29 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I haven't read the actual story (not a big fan of Stevenson) but I know that in the Robertson Davies novel World of Wonders the story is described this way, and the reader is led to believe that the actor who wants to give a psychological rather than melodramatic interpretation of the book (an interpretation in line with the OP) is a Bad Person. I imagine that Davies himself was a more sophisticated reader of the text, but I bet that there are lots of people who are familiar with DJ & MH at secondhand via pop culture and have the good-and-evil-sides-in-one-body interpretation.
posted by Frowner at 2:30 PM on August 8, 2012


Tangential: I really dug the Moffat mini-series. Except the last episode. By way of visual metaphor, the show was striding along with swaggering confidence, had a penultimate ending note that was nigh-perfect, then just a minute or two into the last episode stepped on a banana peel, windmilled its arms, crashed through three or four windows and over assorted furniture and pratfalled down a flight of stairs.
posted by Drastic at 2:30 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is no Dana, only Zuul.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:31 PM on August 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


But there's also the general misunderstanding that Frankenstein has bolts in his neck and can't speak

To be fair, this is all because of Frankenberry cereal.
posted by sweetkid at 2:32 PM on August 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


But is there an Utterson?
posted by trip and a half at 2:32 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, just the one son.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:33 PM on August 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


So Hyde was originally smaller than Jekyll?

He is more compact and primitive nature. Chapter 2:
God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic, shall we say? or can it be the old story of Dr. Fell? or is it the mere radiance of a foul soul that thus transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent?
"clay continent" is reference to the story in the Biblical Book of Genesis where Adam is made out of clay. The old story of Dr. Fell in reference to Tom Brown (ie. someone unloved). "Troglodytic", a cave man.

Another thing people don't get about this story is tons of references to things that are completely obscure, you need a good annotated version to really get it.
posted by stbalbach at 2:35 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Confession time: I'm one of these everybody. Never read the damn thing, just based my interpretation of various movie fragments, I guess. TIL.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:36 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be fair, this is all because of Frankenberry cereal.

Frankenberry could speak!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:39 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


In recent years, I've been going back to the classics and catching up on stories that I never read or gave up on before, especially in the 18th-19th Centuries. And while not everything is either an easy read or even worthwhile, there are some great stories that have become personal and lifetime favorites -- Dracula, Frankenstein, and especially any of the Brontes to pick some at random are just amazing reads.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:40 PM on August 8, 2012


I have not read the original of Jekyll and Hyde. Doesn't bother me a bit.

Amazingly, I consider myself very well read and don't feel the least bad for not feeling bad for not having read everything that someone, somewhere, considers a "must read".
posted by bswinburn at 2:40 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, that is a MUCH better story.
posted by Cosine at 2:41 PM on August 8, 2012


"Troglodytic", a cave man.

Once again, the role-playing, D&D-heavy portfolio pays off for the hungry reader!
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:44 PM on August 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


Wait a minute now.

From the article:
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).

From Wikipedia:
The work is commonly associated with the rare mental condition often spuriously called "split personality", where within the same body there exists more than one distinct personality.[3] In this case, there are two personalities within Dr Jekyll, one apparently good and the other evil; completely opposite levels of morality.

What I'm a missing here?

posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:44 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who have not read a work of literature don't understand that work of literature?!?! This is not breaking news in a world where people think Romeo and Juliet is a love story.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:45 PM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have not read the original of Jekyll and Hyde. Doesn't bother me a bit.

Well, that answers my two burning questions.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:46 PM on August 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Count me in as "everybody". I've never read the story, never seen any movies or TV shows (as far as I remember). My knowledge of the tale is strictly through pop-cultural osmosis, and until ten minutes ago I understood it to be a sort of body-horror trope, that Jekyll's body was off doing things (as Mr. Hyde) that he had no recollection of.

The idea that Jekyll does this intentionally, frankly, sounds far more interesting. I'll have to put it on the reading list.
posted by neckro23 at 2:52 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting post, but a foolish, shallow, and ultimately narcissistic reading of Stevenson's tale.

Padnick thinks Dr. Jekyll must be playacting because Padnick himself can't imagine having such a deep division in his own personality-- about which he may very well be right, since I can't imagine him having anything especially deep in his personality.

And as far as the story is concerned, I've always found Dr. Jekyll to be far, far more evil and disturbing than Mr. Hyde could ever pretend to be. Even the name Dr. Jekyll is absolutely chilling.

I'm not sure Stevenson is offering us the portrait of a good man with a hidden evil side, so much as the portrait of a thoroughly evil man who hides the brutal and largely trivial aspects of his evil beneath the glamorous, sophisticated, and viciously malignant evil which was socially acceptable in Victorian England, because only the exposure of the brutal and crude evil had any potential to bring him down from his high position in polite society.
posted by jamjam at 2:52 PM on August 8, 2012 [15 favorites]


people think Romeo and Juliet is a love story

It totally is. It's the love story of Tybalt and Mercutio, who fake their own deaths with the help of their besties Romeo and Juliet in order to run away together. What story did you read?!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's my understanding that the inspirations for the tale means that it's both.

Deacon Brodie didn't have another personality, but he was both a respectable member of society, and a thief.

The city of Edinburgh, though, did have a split personality - the city of the enlightenment was also a place of squalor and disease, divided between the neat new town and the higgeldy-piggeldy old town.
posted by liquidindian at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moffat's Jekyll had some weirdly sexist implications. Also that story could have been told with half as many episodes.

The best adaptation of the Jekyll/Hyde dynamic I've seen in a character, and one absolutely true to the point of the article, is in Walter, the protagonist of Breaking Bad (at least as far as I've gone, only finished season 2).
posted by Ndwright at 2:56 PM on August 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Even the name Dr. Jekyll is absolutely chilling.

how so?
posted by sweetkid at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2012


Wait, what... Hyde's not a hot chick?

By coincidence I read an interview with Alan Moore earlier where he mentions that reason / excuse that Hyde is a such a hulking monster in LOEG is a throwaway line towards the end of the novel that Hyde was looking slightly bigger, so he just carried that on.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2012


The real question is is it Jeck-ul or Jee-cal?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:58 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would venture that this perception of Jekyll and Hyde is about as common as the misperception that the Bible depicts Noah taking two of every animal onto the Ark.

Wait, what now? I am totally under this misperception. What really happened? (I know I could look it up but that seems like a lot of work.)
posted by slmorri at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, fine, I looked it up.
posted by slmorri at 3:00 PM on August 8, 2012


From Genesis 7:

 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:02 PM on August 8, 2012


Noah's brother eats most of the animals before they can get them onto the ark.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:03 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Foci for Analysis, you have led me to the unique search tool WikiBlame, and for that I thank you.

In the specific, I think we can attribute this user for the change - the major text of 'commonly associated with' would be the phenomenon in the main link.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:03 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Next: What Steven Padnick gets wrong about the words "everybody" and "wrong".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, fine, I looked it up.

Thanks, slmorri! I wanted to know the Noah thing too - but couldn't be bothered:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2012


fearfulsymmetry: "The real question is is it Jeck-ul or Jee-cal?"

Starting a pronunciation discussion on Metafilter is a lot scarier than taking any sort of potion. (It's the former.)

As for the earlier question of whether this article or Wikipedia's summary are wrong on their take of the story... I'd say both sorta. But it's more of a personal opinion that I think you should the story yourself to decide/
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


@TODO
Read Jeck-ul and Hineyman
Read The Bible (Flagged Quonsar Version)
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:09 PM on August 8, 2012


foolish, shallow, and ultimately narcissistic reading of Stevenson's tale.

Jeez, do you know this guy personally or something?
posted by sendai sleep master at 3:14 PM on August 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


Sidhedevil: “This is not breaking news in a world where people think Romeo and Juliet is a love story.”

The what?
posted by koeselitz at 3:17 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


From Wikipedia:
The work is commonly associated with the rare mental condition often spuriously called "split personality", where within the same body there exists more than one distinct personality.[3] In this case, there are two personalities within Dr Jekyll, one apparently good and the other evil; completely opposite levels of morality.

What I'm a missing here?


Just because the story is commonly associated with split personality disorder doesn't mean that is a correct association.
posted by asnider at 3:17 PM on August 8, 2012


So wait, Brad Pitt really was Edward Norton?
posted by klarck at 3:20 PM on August 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Anyone who attended state school in London in the last few decades will remember when 'jekyll' was used as an adjective with a very particular meaning: it referred to sportswear/trainers that were either fake, or (less commonly) out of date, shabby, too flashy, or secondhand.

So you might be accused of wearing 'jekyll Adidas' to school one day. And then you were fucked.
posted by colie at 3:20 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really enjoying the irony of everyone rushing in to point out that THEY read and understood the story just fine, totally overlooking the detail that this article is specifically about adaptations of the original work.
posted by hermitosis at 3:21 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


And when I say everybody, I mean everybody.

And by everybody you mean hyperbole.
posted by Splunge at 3:22 PM on August 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


you need a good annotated version to really get it.

So, anyone want to recommend a good annotated version (bonus points if available as an ebook)
posted by sparklemotion at 3:25 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


But from Genesis 6:

"You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive."

There are two different versions of the Noah story in the Bible. Stating that "the Bible depicts Noah taking two of every animal onto the Ark" is not a "misperception". It is simply the more commonly known of the stories presented.
posted by kyrademon at 3:26 PM on August 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


The best adaptation of the Jekyll/Hyde dynamic I've seen in a character, and one absolutely true to the point of the article, is in Walter, the protagonist of Breaking Bad (at least as far as I've gone, only finished season 2).

SPOILERSISH Very much a case of corcumstances revealing aspects of a characters others, and perhaps Walter, might not have known were there - Walter doesn't suddenly start offing gangsters because he's got a new hat and nobody will recognize him.
posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm really enjoying the irony of everyone rushing in to point out that THEY read and understood the story just fine, totally overlooking the detail that this article is specifically about adaptations of the original work.

By "everyone," you don't really mean everyone, do you?
posted by The World Famous at 3:28 PM on August 8, 2012


Didn't you get it, TWF? "Everyone" means "some people." We talked about it yesterday, and almost everyone agreed that's what it would mean from now on.
posted by koeselitz at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


All this hyperbolic sarcasm is literally the worst thing ever.

Ever!
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


The work is commonly associated with the rare mental condition often spuriously called "split personality", where within the same body there exists more than one distinct personality.[3] In this case, there are two personalities within Dr Jekyll, one apparently good and the other evil; completely opposite levels of morality.

What I'm a missing here?


That random Wikipedia editor #234533 might be prone to making the same error the author is charging his straw everybody with? Or that people, post Jekyll and Hyde, make the same error the author is charging his straw everybody with?

I always understood Hyde as a representation of the primal urges that the upstanding gentleman Jekyll has to repress within himself. I dunno. It's been a long time since I thought about it.

As for the League of Extraordinary Gentleman, I was under the impression that Hyde didn't start out as the Hulk but became that way over time as that aspect of the personality grew increasingly dominant over Dr. Jekyll.
posted by synecdoche at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's the friggen point of the whole story. Or perhaps the point is "there is no Dr. Jekyll".

Stephenson totally ripped off Primal Fear.
posted by Justinian at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


But there's also the general misunderstanding that Frankenstein has bolts in his neck and can't speak.

The pop culture version of Frakenstein is one that has wondered so far off from its roots that it's fair to say that it has is own canon now.

For starters the monster that Dr. Frankenstein creates never has a name and is always referred to as "the monster".
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:31 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also want access to this good annotated version of which you speak!
posted by windykites at 3:31 PM on August 8, 2012


I'm pretty sure you could trick a fair portion of MeFi into adamantly claiming to know that black is actually white and the sky is nactuary ally blue by telling that prefaced with "most people get this wrong."
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on August 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm really enjoying the irony of everyone rushing in to point out that THEY read and understood the story just fine, totally overlooking the detail that this article is specifically about adaptations of the original work.

The "And when I say everybody, I mean everybody." bit is the first line. Crucially, before any discussion of adaptations.
posted by juv3nal at 3:32 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have no nactuary allies.
posted by The World Famous at 3:34 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


... and now I don't want an edit window for anyone.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:34 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


(I kid, Artw.)
posted by The World Famous at 3:34 PM on August 8, 2012


Sweetkid, I confess I described 'Jekyll' as "absolutely chilling" because I wanted to evoke associations with Chillingworth, the true villain of The Scarlet Letter, and because it resembles the Danish 'jökulle' (icicle), but I think it resonates with 'skull', and certainly suggests 'jackal', and can be decomposed into 'Je kyll' (Franglais 'I kill').
posted by jamjam at 3:38 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Back to lobsters for a second, did you know you can anesthetize them with clove oil?
posted by zamboni at 3:38 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, anyone want to recommend a good annotated version

The Annotated Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

disclaimer: I made it. It's mostly just factual annotations. For interpretive annotations I recommend the Richard Dury (2004) edition, he is the master.
posted by stbalbach at 3:40 PM on August 8, 2012 [25 favorites]


That is awesome, stbalbach. I'll be enjoying this. Thanks.
posted by koeselitz at 3:40 PM on August 8, 2012


You fellows make it sound like this potion of Jekyll's was just a large glass of strong drink.

Behold, I shall transform into an abusive, troglodytic savage!

Bartender, Jaeger shots!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:44 PM on August 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Isn't the metaphor just that Hyde is Jekyll after drinking? The temperance movement was strong in Britain at that time, and the kinds of things Hyde does are not really beyond what someone who overindulges habitually in alcohol is capable of, especially given the Jekyll's "enjoyment" of his nights out as Hyde?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:44 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


For starters the monster that Dr. Frankenstein creates never has a name and is always referred to as "the monster".

Not to be all nitpicky but I'm pretty sure he is persistently referred to as "the Creature". This is important to me because monster (in non-muppet contexts) to have pejorative connotations and I'm not comfortable with that under the circumstances. It's also why I try to say "Loch Ness Creature" because I find monster to be kind of a dog whistle and at this point my husband can't keep pretending he's coughing and he just starts laughing at me. Still, I think it's important to be respectful.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:44 PM on August 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Shit, monster CAN have.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:45 PM on August 8, 2012


it resembles the Danish 'jökulle' (icicle), but I think it resonates with 'skull', and certainly suggests 'jackal', and can be decomposed into 'Je kyll' (Franglais 'I kill').

Also, it's got a Y in it. And a Y is a symbol of an uncanny and terrifying dual nature, because it is SOMETIMES A VOWEL (cue organ music, lightning flashes).
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:47 PM on August 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


I did read Jekyll and Hyde, and I will fess up to thinking that Jekyll experienced Hyde as being a different person or personality. And also that the novel was supposed to be read on a more metaphorical level, something about base urges versus civilized urges and something something. I was also quite young when I read it, and hadn't really heard of the idea of split personalities before, so I believe I took Jekyll's account of his experience of the transformation fairly literally, and thus believed that Jekyll and Hyde were distinct people on some level. Yes, this despite the fact that I read it as a metaphor or allegory. I haven't read the story since, not finding the idea of dualistic nature (reason versus emotion! rational versus animal! masculine versus feminine!) particularly interesting. Apparently it might be worth a second read, though.
posted by eviemath at 3:48 PM on August 8, 2012


Not to be all nitpicky but I'm pretty sure he is persistently referred to as "the Creature".

You know, that or His Creatureness, or Creature-er, or El Creaturino if you're not into that whole brevity thing.
posted by The World Famous at 3:51 PM on August 8, 2012 [17 favorites]


Anyone who attended state school in London in the last few decades will remember when 'jekyll' was used as an adjective with a very particular meaning: it referred to sportswear/trainers that were either fake, or (less commonly) out of date, shabby, too flashy, or secondhand.

So you might be accused of wearing 'jekyll Adidas' to school one day. And then you were fucked.


Jekyll and Hyde = Snide, I'm guessing?
posted by tigrefacile at 3:52 PM on August 8, 2012


Yes jamjam, I always thought jekyll was the scarier name as well - as for edinburgh being an inspiration, thats very true, stevenson would be walking across a bridge on the way home (to the new town ?) from university and see terrible poverty in the cowgate below.


"Social inequality is nowhere more ostentatious than at Edinburgh...to look over the South Bridge and see the Cowgate below full of crying hawkers, is to view one rank of society from another in the twinkling of an eye".


Stevenson was an all round wonderful guy.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:55 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's also why I try to say "Loch Ness Creature" because I find monster to be kind of a dog whistle

If you ever claim that Godzilla is the "King of the Creatures" you should understand that you're a bad person and should feel bad.
posted by Drastic at 3:55 PM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


For starters the monster that Dr. Frankenstein creates never has a name and is always referred to as "the monster".

Also "the creature," "the animal," "the fiend," "the daemon," "the devil," "the wretch," and (my favorite) "the being."

On preview: a quick double-check at Project Gutenberg reveals 20 "the monster"s and 5 "the creature"s in what I believe is the 1818 edition of Frankenstein. Of course, Victor Frankenstein is almost always the one referring to the whatever as "the monster," and he has his own bad reasons for wanting to think of his creation as monstrous.

Furthermore:
The monster's namelessness became part of the stage tradition as Mary Shelley's story was adapted into serious and comic plays in London and Paris during the decades after the novel's first appearance. Mary Shelley herself attended a performance of Presumption, the first successful stage adaptation of her novel. "The play bill amused me extremely, for in the list of dramatic personae came _________, by Mr T. Cooke,” she wrote to her friend Leigh Hunt. "This nameless mode of naming the unnameable is rather good."
posted by DaDaDaDave at 3:55 PM on August 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Frankenstein is not actually a Dracula.
posted by Artw at 3:57 PM on August 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Interestingly, it winds up having more or less the same central, Burkeian message as that other early science-fiction work, The Invisible Man: that it's only the highly stratified system of class-based shame and guilt that prevents the upper classes from devolving into wild debauchery.

Which is also one theme of The Importance of Being Earnest. Say, it'd be fun to teach that back to back with Jekyll and Hyde. Students would immediately get that Jekyll's just "Bunburying."
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:58 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


zamboni: "Back to lobsters for a second, did you know you can anesthetize them with clove oil?"

I like to make lobster when I'm depressed. I just talk to them about my life and they commit suicide. Which, strangely enough, cheers me right up.
posted by Splunge at 3:58 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you ever claim that Godzilla is the "King of the Creatures" you should understand that you're a bad person and should feel bad.
posted by Drastic at 6:55 PM on August 8 [+] [!]


That's totally a fair point and I do agree with you there, the difference is that 1) He could be King of the Monsters without actually BEING a monster 2) I don't have the same sympathy and fondness for Godzilla that I do for Frankenstein's Creature and the Loch Ness Creature.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:02 PM on August 8, 2012


On my final in-class exam for the class where I read Jekyll and Hyde there was a question regarding Frankenstein in which I expounded upon the idea of Victor as an absent/bad parent who, through his absence, imparts to the monster his own kind of destructive narcissism. At that point in the essay I made an asterisk and, at the bottom of the page, I noted that Frankenstein was, in fact, as song by Cat Stephens.

Later I was mortified to find that I was part of the "Everybody" (not actually everybody or anybody) that gets a certain fact wrong:

Cats in the Cradle was by Harry Chapin!
posted by sendai sleep master at 4:03 PM on August 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Frankenstein is not actually a Dracula.

Wait could you turn Frankenstein's creature into a vampire or is he too undead already?
posted by The Whelk at 4:05 PM on August 8, 2012


Frankenstein is not actually a Dracula.

There used to be Draculas, back in the olden days. Back when there was Frankensteins.
posted by juv3nal at 4:06 PM on August 8, 2012


He would have to be sewn out of different parts of Draculas to make a Dracula Golem.
posted by Artw at 4:06 PM on August 8, 2012


For those looking for an authoritative edition, this one has an interesting introduction by the chap who taught me the text, Roger Luckhurst. He's big on the post-Darwinian idea of regression, which I think was about late-Victorian concerns that if man as a species has evolved it might also move in an opposite direction. Hyde, in his model, represents this alternative trajectory. There's also some racial stuff going on, some stuff about repressed sexuality (he reads the trampling incident as a sexual assault) and some very interesting stuff about how space works in the book. A good read, with helpful notes.
posted by tigrefacile at 4:07 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The treasure chest is guarded by a multiheaded Dracula golem.
posted by The Whelk at 4:07 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to thread sit but

Another personal anecdote:

I was working in the lab late one night when my eyes beheld an eerie sight for my monster from his slab began to rise and suddenly to my surprise.....He did the mash!
posted by sendai sleep master at 4:08 PM on August 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Has to be compatible Draculas or it will explode. Can't just sew a Chinese Dracula to a Ancient Greek Dracula to make a snake woman with a hopping foot.
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Dracustein is pretty much my favorite creature.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:14 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


He did the creature mash.
posted by The World Famous at 4:18 PM on August 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the author's point here is that adaptations and, more to the point, the pop-cultural understanding of Jekyll and Hyde is that of a split personality.

And Romeo and Juliet IS a love story, but it's just a lot of other things as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:27 PM on August 8, 2012


Because I can't think of anyone who's misunderstood the story in this way.

I've never read the original, but as presented in various and sundry remakes, I thought the story was about a form of schizophrenia.

If knockoffs count, I did exactly what this author is saying I did. I was, however, quite young. Adult me might have been more insightful, but I'm doubtful. The Jekyll/Hyde story is kind of alien to me, and while the observation seems obvious now, I just don't think I would have seen it on my own.
posted by Malor at 4:28 PM on August 8, 2012


HYDE SMASH.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:29 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So then Ferris Bueller's Day Off (in the Fight Club school of thought) is essentially a modern retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:31 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you ever claim that Godzilla is the "King of the Creatures" you should understand that you're a bad foolish person and should feel bad fear atomic fire.

That is slightly more accurate, I think.

I don't have the same sympathy and fondness for Godzilla that I do for Frankenstein's Creature and the Loch Ness Creature.

There's only one monster in this thread, and it's a lack of respect for Godzilla.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:32 PM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Shadmocks only whistle
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:35 PM on August 8, 2012


To put it another way, when people describe somebody as being "like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," it usually means that they're super-nice most of the time, and become mean and/or evil in another set of circumstances. The source material is closer to the "greater internet fuckwad theory," but that's not what it ever means when alluded to in popular culture.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:37 PM on August 8, 2012


I'm kind of surprised that Moore did it the split-personality way in LOEG, which I just recently read.
posted by adamdschneider at 4:37 PM on August 8, 2012


Hyde in LOEG does become more civilized as he becomes the dominate personality - I actually really like Hyde in the second LOEG book, a rough but kind of charming loudmouth brawler.

The Dracustein is pretty much my favorite creature.

Oh god, I'm going to make Halloween cards for sale this year aren't I ...AREN'T I?!
posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stevenson did write a story, also quite chilling, about a split personality (inspired by Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment) called "Markheim". The full text can be read here.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:40 PM on August 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I also considered it a metaphor for alcoholism but then I'm biased as my dad was Dr. Jekyll.
posted by dobbs at 4:42 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really enjoying the irony of everyone rushing in to point out that THEY read and understood the story just fine, totally overlooking the detail that this article is specifically about adaptations of the original work.

He also says that readers don't understand the actual story. It's in the first sentence.

Also, an article that said what is true ("Hey! People recycling the Jekyll and Hyde mythos make it really different from Stevenson's original story") would I guess give the author less of a sense that he is smarter than Steven Moffat. Because obviously, Steven Moffat didn't do anything different with the mythos on purpose--he must just have misunderstood it!

Or, perhaps, "Stephen Moffat" as the writer might have it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:45 PM on August 8, 2012


FIVE THINGS YOU FUCKING IDIOTS DEFINITELY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT LOBSTERS.

1. Lobsters are a type of crustacean.
2. Lobsters are normally brownish and only turn red once boiled.
3. Most lobsters sold in the US are caught in the state of Maine.


They are ugly and small and not tasty at all; they are lobsters in nothing but name. They don't smash open clams on their bellies with stones, they have neither whiskers nor paws. And the furry old lobster's so easily crushed In the grip of their terrible claws

Sing hey hidey ho, where'd the old lobster go? And his body so furry and brown?
posted by straight at 4:47 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait could you turn Frankenstein's creature into a vampire or is he too undead already?

Frankenstein's creature isn't undead. I assume vampirism could be applied through any of the standard methods.

(I believe that corporeal undead creatures are animated through the spiritual will of the creature's ghost, or some other apparition. Frankenstein revived the creature with electricity.)
posted by yath at 4:48 PM on August 8, 2012


I'd be interested if anyone knows an interpretation of the story that goes with the "Hyde is Jekyll" viewpoint, I've never seen one.

The 1941 Spencer Tracy one. Tracy wears much less transforming makeup than others who have portrayed Jekyll (compare Frederic March's over-the-top apeman getup in the 1931 movie) and there are long (dull, admittedly) speeches about how everyone's personality has good and bad elements blah blah blah blah blahy.

Mary Reilly (both the excellent novel and the mediocre movie), as already mentioned, really get at this from the perspective of Jekyll's housemaid.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:56 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had to go to summer school after 8th grade, because I skipped half the year, and played Tetris and listened to DCG Rarities Vol. 1 instead.

My summer school reading class focused solely on Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I believe that every student in my class thought of Dr Jekyll in the similar way to what the author of this piece espouses. And this was a group full of junior high summer school students who 1) had major issues giving a damn about school work, 2) had untreated attention deficit problems, and/or 3) had been shafted by the educational system since birth and didn't really know how to navigate school.
posted by Coatlicue at 4:59 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now I'm having second thoughts about the FPP I was about to post about What Not Many People Know About Michael Caine.
posted by The World Famous at 4:59 PM on August 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


on Iron Chef they always said "homard lobster"

People in the food industry often say "homard lobster" to distinguish the arthropods of the Homarus species (North American lobster and European lobster) from the other arthropods called "lobster" in common parlance (Homarinus, or "Cape lobster", the delightful Palinuridae, or "spiny lobsters" a/k/a "rock lobsters", and others).

OMG I AM THE BIGGEST DORK IN ALL OF DORKSYLVANIA.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:02 PM on August 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


So Jekyll is a superman analogue and Hyde is a Batman analogue? Or jekyll is Warren Ellis and Hyde is Alan Moore?
posted by biffa at 5:20 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jekyll is Paul McCartney and Hyde is Keith Richards.

But really, Jekyll is Young Pretty Elvis and Hyde is Fat Drug Addict Elvis.
posted by The World Famous at 5:23 PM on August 8, 2012


Time displaced Elvises fight monsters together.

I'd read that, hell I'd write that.
posted by The Whelk at 5:24 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd read it if you wrote it. And I'd pay green money to see the film adaptation, just as long as Nic Cage is cast as The Creature.
posted by The World Famous at 5:33 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Both Viv Stanshall and his monster have the bolts and the moves that count but only one them is master of the spoons.
posted by ian1977 at 5:42 PM on August 8, 2012


Electric spoons no less.
posted by ian1977 at 5:44 PM on August 8, 2012


Jekyll is Paul McCartney and Hyde is Keith Richards.

Jekyll was a walrus? And Hyde was a zombie? Shit - I was reading it wrong!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:44 PM on August 8, 2012


Jeckyll is Tyler Durden. Wasn't that obvious in Act III?
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:50 PM on August 8, 2012


Jekyll is boiled lobster. Hyde is lobster Thermidor.
posted by Splunge at 5:57 PM on August 8, 2012


FUCKING AMERICANS ALWAYS MAKING EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM

as any fule kno, lobsters are normally blue and only turn red once boiled.
posted by Lebannen at 5:59 PM on August 8, 2012


I am Jekyll's raging bylle duct.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:02 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The city of Edinburgh, though, did have a split personality - the city of the enlightenment was also a place of squalor and disease, divided between the neat new town and the higgeldy-piggeldy old town.

Thats a fascinating take, and changes my understanding of the story considerably. It also makes quite a bit of sense.
posted by the cydonian at 6:34 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait could you turn Frankenstein's creature into a vampire or is he too undead already?

No, but you could turn a bunch of draculas into a frankenstein. It would be less of a cohesive whole, mind you, and would probably rip itself apart before regenerating and moidering you.

Anyways, you can't make a frankenstein a dracula. There's a soul consumption aspect to mystic draculadom, and franks either don't have one soul or have many bits and pieces that they could not be drained. Even if you do the draculas are a virus thing, franks are stiched together from other people, their systems know how to pound foreign contaminants into line.

Also, you can't make a wolfman a dracula, but any drac attempting to do so would probably explode as a mutagenic nature infects a static system. Maaaayyybe you'd end up with some sort of twisted mutant wolfdrac, but really, you'd end up with rotted kibble.

These are facts learned through my family's long history.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:41 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seemed possible to me that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was partly inspired by the Jack the Ripper murders, but those began two years after the story was published in 1886-- which is more interesting than the reverse would have been, actually.

Stevenson was picking up on something that was in the air, at the very least.
posted by jamjam at 6:45 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


After some consideration, it seems to me that the author's premise is not quite what it's being interpretted as here.

Certainly "nobody" thinks that Jeckyll and Hyde are two entirely different beings sharing the same (albeit altered) body , each with their own driver's license, etc.

What he's saying is in fact the opposite. There is only one personality, but with two appearances. Just as Bruce Wayne and Batman have entirely the same ego in charge of their being, and yet only one of them can get away with going out and fighting criminals in the street.

Jeckyll and Hyde, the theory goes, is NOT about split personalities, or even really "the good side and the bad side of one's personality fighting for control."

It's just about a guy who decides that the only way he can get away with carrying out all of the depraved behavior he yearns for without losing his place in society is to alter his appearance such that he's unrecognizable.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:47 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


To further elaborate, as many interpretations of the story go, it's usually presented as a situation where "the bad side took over his personality, causing him to do these terrible things, etc." when in fact it's just a guy disguising his appearance whenever he feels like doing terrible things.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:50 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested if anyone knows an interpretation of the story that goes with the "Hyde is Jekyll" viewpoint, I've never seen one.

Not exactly, but it seems like "American Psycho" could be considered something along those lines.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:01 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel I should point to a fun romp of a read, Dr Jekyll and Mr Holmes by Loren Estleman, which is a lot of fun for a fan of both.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:03 PM on August 8, 2012


To further elaborate, as many interpretations of the story go, it's usually presented as a situation where "the bad side took over his personality, causing him to do these terrible things, etc." when in fact it's just a guy disguising his appearance whenever he feels like doing terrible things.

Which seems to me to be a perverse reading of the story. While it is certainly possible (in the sense that there are no facts that are utterly and hopelessly out of keeping with those we learn from the narrative), I don't see any strong or compelling reason to believe that, say, Jekyll is lying or deluded when he reports actual physiological changes as a result of his Hyde-transformation. The notion that it's just the story of a rotter who comes up with a wacky cover story for his rottenness seems rather silly to me.
posted by yoink at 7:06 PM on August 8, 2012


My understanding is that the spark of life that animated the chimera that is Frankenstein's creature was a synergy with chemistry as well. Fluids had to be infused as part of the process.

These fluids, while blood-like, are not blood. That and the lightning created an immortal being. In the Shelley book the creature lives in Arctic (or Antarctic, I don't recall which) conditions. Without food.

Thus it could not be bitten by a vampire and be changed. In fact, a vampire wouldn't consider it food. I'd say that the Creature and Dracula might consider themselves equals. Both are apart from humankind. Both have contempt for humans. Such a pairing could very well be the end of human civilization. The Creature could protect the Count during his daylight slumber. And at night the two would be unstoppable.

Thoughts?
posted by Splunge at 7:09 PM on August 8, 2012


And as far as the story is concerned, I've always found Dr. Jekyll to be far, far more evil and disturbing than Mr. Hyde could ever pretend to be.

Agreed. I definitely felt this as a child when I tore through Stevenson's work. Jekyll knows what the potion does to him (and through him, to others), and drinks it anyway! Far, far worse, than reactionary id as represented by Hyde.

Interestingly this theme - the allure or attractiveness of evil - is a recurring one in much of Stevenson's work. Treasure Island is perhaps the sharpest and most well-known exemplar: Jim Hawkins is well aware that Long John's bonhomie is not all that it appears, and that the pirate is both a dangerous and inappropriate role model for what Jim aspires to be - yet he is drawn despite all this. The melange of good and evil swirling in people - and the ability of things like love, relationships, religion, guilt to mitigate the evil moreso than a particular moral principle, is definitely a feature of his work.
posted by smoke at 7:25 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Such a pairing could very well be the end of human civilization.

Well, it resulted in Butch Patrick, so, pretty good guess.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:29 PM on August 8, 2012


My favorite part was where someone copy-pasted wikipedia as a rebuttal/attempt to settle the argument. Do it again! Do it again!
posted by jscott at 7:29 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's also why he names his alter ego 'Hyde,' because Hyde is a disguise, to be worn and discarded like a thick cloak.

Whoa! His name is "Hyde" because he's hiding something?!? That's the most subtle hidden meaning in a character's name since Humble Jewett as the Christ figure in "How Beautiful with Shoes."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:35 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Frankenstein film trivia: the credits on the (iirc) 1931 version list the author of the source material as "Mrs Percy B. Shelley"
posted by rmd1023 at 7:35 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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.

"duel personality"? Them's fightin' words!
posted by kirkaracha at 7:36 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


OMG Lilly Munster was a vampire?

Why did I not get that until now? I thought she was just creepy and morbid like Morticia Addams but of course she was a vampire because her father is a vampire.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:37 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


"duel personality"? Them's fightin' words!

That there's one a them whatchmacallits. Double-edged entendres.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:39 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always taken it to mean that when Dr. Jekyll is Mr. Hyde, he becomes a Viking.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:47 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


+1 for the "Who the hell is this 'everyone' the author is talking about?" column.
posted by fonetik at 7:56 PM on August 8, 2012


I've always taken it to mean that when Dr. Jekyll is Mr. Hyde, he becomes a Viking.

And thus, as we know from recent FPPs, that meant that everyone was jealous of his outstanding taste in fashion.

"Everyone" being about the same "everyone" discussed in this Tor.com article.

Quick! To the Viking Answer Lady!
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:03 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoa! His name is "Hyde" because he's hiding something?!? That's the most subtle hidden meaning in a character's name...

On the plus side, it's acknowledged as such in the story itself:

"If he be Mr. Hyde," he had thought, "I shall be Mr. Seek."
posted by ShutterBun at 8:27 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm really enjoying the irony of everyone rushing in to point out that THEY read and understood the story just fine, totally overlooking the detail that this article is specifically about adaptations of the original work.

Sidhedevil beat me to it, but the Spencer Tracy movie addresses it clearly; after all, it's Henry Jekyll whipping the shit out of Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman, not Edward Hyde.

I was working in the lab late one night when my eyes beheld an eerie sight for my monster from his slab began to rise and suddenly to my surprise.....He did the mash!

"It happened... IT HAPPENED TO ME!"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:49 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the plus side, it's acknowledged as such in the story itself

Well then thank heavens Captain Obvious explained it to all the incognoscenti.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:50 PM on August 8, 2012


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

Whatever. It is worth POINTING OUT LOUDLY that the brilliant 1931 film version by Rouben Mamoulian not only does NOT make the above mistake but also makes it crystal clear that Hyde is meant to represent the blunt expression of what Jekyll wants to be doing but won't allow himself to do. That Padnick completely fails to mention the iconic Jekyll/Hyde of the 20th century - Frederic March's itchy, nervous, sexual, pre-Hollywood-Code performance, which leaves Spencer Tracy's later post-Code, watered-down version in the dust (sorry, Sidhedevil) - is very telling. The 1931 film completely obliterates Padnick's point.

Sure, the astonishingly brilliant and new special effects helped; anyone want to try explaining how this transformation was done without using Wikipedia? But keep watching that scene and it couldn't be more obvious in Mamoulian's 1931 film that Hyde's lusts and violences are meant to be seen as extensions of Jekyll's existing personality; the weird flashbacks are all meant to clearly link Hyde's obsessions with specific incidents Jekyll very recently experienced in the film. Seriously, Padnick couldn't be more off-base if he tried; it's no surprise he doesn't even bother to mention the 1931 film; it directly contradicts his headline pronouncement.

Aargh. Ok, I'll take a deep breath now.

As a pleasant side note, not only does the 1931 Jekyll and Hyde have some of the most astonishingly brilliant special effects of any pre-WWII movie, it was just one of a series of early talkies from Mamoulian - including City Streets and the truly amazing early musical Love Me Tonight - that did more than any other contemporary director's work to open up the possibilities of camera and microphone. Seriously. Anyone who hasn't seen Love Me Tonight and the 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has a huge gap in their understanding of Hollywood history, particularly the technical history.

Trust me when I say any film buff will enjoy filling that gap.
posted by mediareport at 9:50 PM on August 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


That's Dr Jekyll's secret, Captain. He's always Hyde.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:57 PM on August 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


BTW I went on a literary pub tour of Edinburgh* a few years back, and our native tour guide was absolutely insistent that Jekyll was properly pronounced "JEEE-kill," not as the commonly heard "JEH-kull." True or false, Internet?


* if you didn't know Robert Louis Stevenson was Scottish, take a drink!
posted by nicebookrack at 10:06 PM on August 8, 2012


...anyone want to try explaining how this transformation was done without using Wikipedia?

My guess: Two different colors of makeup that had the same brightness when illuminated under one color of light, but different brightnesses when illuminated under another color. They slowly changed the lights from the one color to the other as the scene was shot.

BTW, I don't think they had Wikipedia in 1931.
posted by The Tensor at 10:25 PM on August 8, 2012


True or false, Internet?

Well, if IMDB counts as authoritative, there's this:

Jekyll is a Scottish surname, pronounced "Jeekyll". Robert Louis Stevenson, being Scottish himself, also pronounced it "Jeekyll."

I'm trying to remember how it's pronounced in the 1931 talkie, but can't find the name said in any clips online. I'll bet it's made clear in the first few minutes of the film, though. If no one else steps up, I'll rent it this weekend and let you know.
posted by mediareport at 10:25 PM on August 8, 2012


The Australian adaptation got it right.

This is the story of Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive
They are A person who feels good to be alive

posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:23 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


My guess: Two different colors of makeup that had the same brightness when illuminated under one color of light, but different brightnesses when illuminated under another color. They slowly changed the lights from the one color to the other as the scene was shot.

Right on the money. They used the same technique in the Twilight Zone episode Long Live Walter Jameson
posted by ShutterBun at 11:26 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


According to the Angry Video Game Nerd, it is indeed pronounced "Jeekyll", and (only) the 1931 version got it right.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:36 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


My tenth grade English teacher ruined both Jeckyll & Hyde and the idea of reading fiction for themes for me for a long time; I still haven't gone back to J&H. Her interpretation was the Freudian one, and every. single. detail of the book was in support of the id, ego, superego symbolism. I don't remember at all realizing that Jeckyll and Hyde weren't split personalities or anything, but I do remember that Jeckyl lived in a house with a peaked roof that made a triangle because triangle means id, ego, superego because that was on the test.
posted by klangklangston at 11:49 PM on August 8, 2012


Lobsters don't scream. They just emit a plaintive, high-pitched sigh. Anbody can buy a dead lobster, but it takes a real man to look them in the eye when he drops them in the water.

muuaaaaahhh...
posted by mule98J at 12:22 AM on August 9, 2012


Next week:

You know how everybody (and I mean everybody) watches The Empire Strikes Back and Luke sees his own face in Vader's helmet on Dagobah and they literally believe he beheaded himself by mistake and his head just rolled into the helmet? Well, they're missing a key point.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:25 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just as Christopher Lee, a while back, said he'd only play Dracula again if someone did an accurate adaptation of the book with Drac as an older bloke with a huge grey moustache I don't think I've ever seen a version of Frankenstein that follows the book which, from what I can remember, has Frank as a huge guy who looks beautiful as long as he does not move, but when he does (and opens his fucked-up eyes) is just... wrong.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:08 AM on August 9, 2012


Lobsters don't scream. They just emit a plaintive, high-pitched sigh. Anbody can buy a dead lobster, but it takes a real man to look them in the eye when he drops them in the water.

My mom sent us live lobsters a couple of years ago. I'd never cooked lobster before, and I felt bad about having to kill them, so I looked for the most humane way to do it, which apparently is sticking a giant knife through their head. I couldn't handle that so I called a buddy to talk through my moral crisis about boiling them alive. He said, "they were convicted of the crime of deliciousness," so into the pot they went.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:20 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Time displaced Elvises fight monsters together.

Here's one of them.

Regarding Jekyll, his own narrative in Stevenson's story makes it clear that he was doing evil things, and enjoying it, long before he developed the potion:
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 me. 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...
Moore's Hyde in LOEG comments that Jekyll's faults actually weren't that horrible -- he jerked off, and he failed to return a borrowed book.
posted by Gelatin at 6:34 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd never cooked lobster before, and I felt bad about having to kill them, so I looked for the most humane way to do it, which apparently is sticking a giant knife through their head.

Clove oil.
posted by zamboni at 6:36 AM on August 9, 2012


fearful symmetry, I give you Edward Scissorhands.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:44 AM on August 9, 2012


Both Viv Stanshall and his monster have the bolts and the moves that count but only one them is master of the spoons.

There is no spoon.
posted by The Bellman at 7:26 AM on August 9, 2012


So Jekyll is a superman analogue and Hyde is a Batman analogue? Or jekyll is Warren Ellis and Hyde is Alan Moore?

DRACUSTEIN!!

Wait
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:03 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


My tenth grade English teacher ruined both Jeckyll & Hyde and the idea of reading fiction for themes for me for a long time;


Oh god I had a teacher who did this exact same thing but it was with Vertigo.
posted by The Whelk at 9:05 AM on August 9, 2012


So I haven't read Moby Dick yet. Can someone verify for me (without being too spoilery) that Ismeal and Ahab aren't the same person?
posted by rtimmel at 9:29 AM on August 9, 2012


No, Ahab is the whale.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:44 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The one thing that really surprised me when I finally got around to reading the original story was that the fact that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person was presented as the twist ending. Most of the story treats the nature of the connection between Jekyll and Hyde as a great mystery.
posted by baf at 10:14 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


What? The Ahab is Captain Queequeg's ship, in pursuit of the great whale "Pequod."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:33 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


mediareport, I adore how you write about media.

I think the Frederic March J&H is spoiled by the Hyde makeup and the horror-movie cinematography of the Hyde scenes, but the script is otherwise really strong. The Spencer Tracy J&H has a terrible script, but Tracy's underplaying is interesting. It's also a performance of Jekyll as Everyman that I think is closer to the spirit of the story than March's Byronic antihero.

That said, the 1931 is great to watch, and the 1941 is a total snooze except for a few moments of interesting acting by the principals. So I totally agree that the March version is superior!
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:35 AM on August 9, 2012


Nabokov (Lectures on Literature) taught that Hyde was a precipitation of the evil that was dispersed in Jekyll (who is not, Nabokov points out, not all that good a person). At one point Jekyll is determined not to take any more of the potion, but has found his "lower side begin to growl for license", so allows himself to indulge in these evil pleasures without benefit of the drug. Soon, he finds himself becoming Hyde without warning. Nabokov also points out that Jekyll's house is symbolic of his divided nature, the facade of goodness seen from the street and the side door that lets out from a "sinister block ...thrusting its gable onto the street". Re the names:
The names Jekyll and Hyde are of Scandinavian origin, and I suspect that Stevenson chose them from the same page of an old book where I looked them up myself. Hyde comes from the Anglo-Saxon hyd, which is the Danish hide, "a haven." And Jekyll comes from the Danish name Jökulle, which means "an icicle". Not knowing these simple derivations one would be apt to find all kinds of symbolic meanings... the most obvious being that Hyde is a kind of hiding place for Dr. Jekyll...
Of course, Nabokov is hardly "everybody".
On the films:
...ham actors under the direction of pork packers have acted in a parody of the book, which parody was then photographed on a film and showed in places called theatres; it seems to me to call a movie house a theatre is the same as to call an undertaker a mortician.
posted by CCBC at 4:22 PM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


the fact that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person was presented as the twist ending.

So true. I had never read the story either until this thread, but it was definitely more of a "who is this Hyde character and what does he have to do with Dr. Jeckyll...?" kind of a whodunit mystery thing.

My guess is that by the time the movies started getting made (the story got remade into movies about every 10 years like clockwork) they figured that since "everybody" knew that Jeckyll and Hyde were the same dude, they had to come up with a new angle by which to keep things interesting, so they went with the "dual nature of man" ideas.

At the time the story was written, it could be seen as a commentary on class structure in society or whatever, whereas a few decades later, psychology was perhaps emerging as the topic of the day, so the psychological aspects of the story were explored more.

Just as other oft-retold stories are often reinterpretted depending on the era in which they're produced (Invasion of the Body Snatchers goes from Communist allegory, then later to mistrust of government/conformity, and still later to, I dunno, germophobia?) perhaps Jeckyll and Hyde was not so much "misunderstood" as it was simply re-interpretted for the audience for which it was intended. Nothing wrong with this. If it were simply a literal retelling of the original story, there would be little need for it, and certainly no need for so many damn versions.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:48 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


So wait, Brad Pitt really was Edward Norton?

There is no Mr. Hobbes.
posted by homunculus at 10:00 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to be all nitpicky but I'm pretty sure [Dr. Frankenstein's creation] is persistently referred to as "the Creature". This is important to me because monster (in non-muppet contexts) to have pejorative connotations and I'm not comfortable with that under the circumstances
----
On preview: a quick double-check at Project Gutenberg reveals 20 "the monster"s and 5 "the creature"s in what I believe is the 1818 edition of Frankenstein. Of course, Victor Frankenstein is almost always the one referring to the whatever as "the monster," and he has his own bad reasons for wanting to think of his creation as monstrous.


Just to be fair here his creation does in fact murder his brother, one of his friends, and his wife on their wedding night. The latter two are done very deliberately too -- the first to "encourage" the doctor to resume creating a mate for the creature, the second in revenge for him not doing so.

Personally I don't think "monster" is too far out of line here.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:03 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is how I always took it. This is a surprise idea about the story? Surely it couldn't be, not if I thought this all along.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:35 PM on August 11, 2012


Again, the misunderstanding is between these two ideas, both of which, of course stipulate that Jeckyll and Hyde occupy the same body:

In most retellings, we are made to think that Jeckyll has created this formula, and that he, being some kind of mad scientist, is trying to figure out something about the nature of man or whatnot, and that he inadvertently turns himself into a deformed wretch with a mind of its own , over which he has no control. Not unlike "The Wolfman", except that it's self-inflicted.

This is the version most people are probably familiar with, or are likely to describe it as, from memory.

The author of the article is saying no, that's not it at all.

It's just a guy who figures he can get away with doing dirt, so long as he disguises both his physical appearance, and his manner of dress & apparent societal class. His mind is his own throughout (indeed, he wills all of his possessions to "Mr. Hyde" in case he finds himself unable to return to his normal appearance

It's kinda like in "Snow White" when the Wicked Queen drinks the potion to turn herself into the old beggar woman. She's still the same person, she just looks different, and as such can get close enough to Snow White to poison her (something she could never have done with her normal appearance)

Mr. Hyde is (the article states) simply a disguise, whereas most retellings would have us think that his brain has been overtaken by malevolent forces which had escaped from his subconscious mind /hell/ whatever.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:14 PM on August 12, 2012


It's Raining Florence Henderson: What Everybody Gets Wrong About Jekyll and Hyde: 'And when I say everybody, I mean everybody.'

Jekyll was really a Doctor of Divinity. Hyde was really original sin. Mary Reilly was really Mary Magdalene. O'Reilly? Yes, Reilly.
Thanks, I missed that. And now, "Hyde" becomes "hiding your nakedness(sinfulness) from God(society)."

To apply unnecessary-but-fun interpretations.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:02 PM on August 16, 2012


The World Famous: Not to be all nitpicky but I'm pretty sure he is persistently referred to as "the Creature".

You know, that or His Creatureness, or Creature-er, or El Creaturino if you're not into that whole brevity thing.
True and complete LOL. And I don't even like The Big Lebowski.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:32 PM on August 16, 2012


ShutterBun, I think there's also the sense that Jekyll needs the Hyde disguise in order to give himself permission to act on his evil desires. He tries to convince himself that Hyde is someone else, a different person, but knows deep down that he's not.

Also, you forgot that it's the story of a guy who makes a mask and then can't get it off.
posted by straight at 5:34 PM on August 16, 2012


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