The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Motivation and the Art of Writing

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a gothic novella written by Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson and originally published in 1886. In addition to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the work is often commonly referred to as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or just Jekyll and Hyde.

The protagonist of the novella is Gabriel John Utterson, a London lawyer who probes into the mysterious events that have occurred between his good friend Dr. Henry Jekyll and a homicidal psychopath named Edward Hyde. At the novella’s conclusion, it’s made clear that Jekyll and Hyde are actually the same people; Jekyll merely indulges his darker impulses by transforming into Hyde using a mysterious chemical mixture.

One of the most well-known works ever written in English, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is also widely regarded as a seminal work in the gothic horror subgenre. The novella has also had a significant cultural impact, with the term “Jekyll and Hyde” entering common parlance to describe persons whose pleasant manners belie a dark, startling side to their character.

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Motivation and the Art of Writing

The way in which individual personalities might be a reflection of the struggle between good and evil has always fascinated Stevenson. He wrote a play about William Brodie when he was a youngster; he collaborated with W. E. Henley to improve the screenplay, and it premiered in 1882.

He originally wrote the short story “Markheim” in the early months of 1884, and later altered it for a Christmas annual. After racking his brain for a narrative topic, he reportedly had a dream, and upon waking had the intuition for two or three sequences that would appear in the story Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (as detailed in his article “A Chapter on Dreams,” Scribner’s, January 1888).

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  Plot

Gabriel On their regular Sunday stroll, John Utterson and his cousin Richard Enfield approach the front door of a sprawling mansion. When asked by Utterson, Enfield reveals that he witnessed a sinister-looking man named Edward Hyde accidentally bump into a young girl and then proceed to stomp her. Hyde was compelled by Enfield to pay £100 to her family in order to prevent a scandal.

Hyde led Enfield here and handed him a cheque purportedly from a respectable gentleman, but which turned out to be written by Utterson’s friend and client, Doctor Henry Jekyll. Utterson thinks Hyde is trying to blackmail Jekyll because the latter recently modified his will to make Hyde the only beneficiary. Utterson tries to talk to Jekyll about Hyde, but Jekyll says he can get rid of Hyde whenever he wants, so he should stop bringing it up.

In the month of October, Hyde is seen by a servant beating to death another one of Utterson’s patrons, Sir Danvers Carew, and leaving behind half of a broken cane. Utterson is contacted by the police, and he directs them to Hyde’s residence. The disappearing Hyde is not replaced until they locate the last piece of the broken cane. Utterson recalls giving Jekyll the cane now in question.

When Utterson pays Jekyll a visit, Jekyll purportedly shows him an apology message from Hyde to Jekyll for all the problems Hyde has created. In spite of this, Utterson is convinced that Jekyll fabricated the message in an attempt to shield Hyde because the handwriting looks so much like his own.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Cast

Gabriel John

Gabriel The plot centers on John Utterson, a lawyer and longtime acquaintance of Jekyll and Lanyon. Even though Utterson seldom shows any signs of emotion, he comes out as credible, trustworthy, and tolerant of the flaws of others; he is also a likable bachelor. Stevenson writes, “he was humbled to the dust by the numerous ill things he had done,” suggesting that Utterson is not without blame.

Prof. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde

Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde are the two sides of the same coin that Dr. Jekyll, a “large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty with somewhat of a slyish cast,” sometimes sees as fighting within himself. He’s spent a lot of time attempting to control his darker impulses because they didn’t befit a man of his stature.

Richard Enfield

Utterson’s “man about town” cousin Richard Enfield is a big deal in his community. At around three in the morning, he witnesses a well-known scene in which Hyde runs over a little girl. He’s the one who lets slip to Utterson that Jekyll and Hyde aren’t really friends.

On Enfield, witnesses saw Hyde carelessly drive over a little girl in the street, and as a result, Hyde was forced to write a cheque to the girl’s family by the group of witnesses, the girl’s parents, and other people of Enfield. Enfield determines that the cheque, signed by Jekyll, is legitimate. He believes Hyde looks horrible but is at a loss for words when pressed for details about the man.

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