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Tony Grist

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Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde [Feb. 27th, 2011|10:03 am]
Tony Grist
Is Dr Jekyll a universal fable- or a fable about what Christianity- more especially Puritan Christianity- does to people? The introduction to the Oxford World Classics edition (by Emma Letley) goes on about how very very Scottish it is. Presbyterianism- with its fetish for public rectitude- makes it inevitable that people will lead double lives. Last night I read the book at a sitting. For all its familiarity It still packs quite a punch. 

Two things i had forgotten: 

1. that Jekyll was never a "good" man but had always lived a divided life. What the potion does is to isolate- and intensify- the part of him that is enslaved by his "undignified" vices.

2. That Hyde- far from being the the hulking apeman of the movies, is a creepy, white-faced dwarf. There is certain pathos about him. Jekyll's clothes are far too big for him and he has to roll up the trouser legs and sleeves- for all the world like a child playing dress up. 

[User Picture]From: daisytells
2011-02-27 01:30 pm (UTC)
I relate the Hyde/Jeckyll story to that of an active alcoholic. He drinks something and his whole personality changes for the worse. At first he can control it a bit, but later on, with or without the "elixer", Hyde takes over. For those who have had an alcohol problem and later recovered this story is very personal.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-02-27 02:29 pm (UTC)
That's right. Jekyll's story is an allegory of addiction. I think it makes the story all the stronger that we never actually learn what his "undignified vices" are.
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[User Picture]From: stevegreen
2011-02-27 04:52 pm (UTC)
The inspiration, of course, was the Edinburgh politician Deacon Brodie, who led a real double life.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-02-27 05:54 pm (UTC)
...and about whom Stevenson (in collaboration with W.E.Henley)had previously written a play.
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[User Picture]From: stevegreen
2011-03-01 06:15 am (UTC)
Decent pub, though, or at least it was when Ann and I drank there during the 1990 Edinburgh Festival.
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