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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. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: bigherman
2011-02-27 07:55 pm (UTC)
In my Masterworks of Brit Lit class I took last quarter, we talked about the nature of good and evil in people, mostly. I think the bottom line we came to was that no one is perfect, and trying to be is great folly, as Dr. Jekyll proves. You can't just pop some medicine and excise the parts of your personality or desires you don't like.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-02-28 10:20 am (UTC)
Exactly. Stevenson grew up in Presbyterian Scotland and saw how the pressure to be seen as utterly respectable and righteous turned people into hypocrites. As a young man he led a bit of double life himself- using an assumed name to explore the seamy side of Edinburgh life.
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[User Picture]From: stevegreen
2011-03-01 06:17 am (UTC)
There's a real opportunity for a play there: Dr Stephenson &...
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