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Stevenson deplored the attempts to plumb his divided hero's psychology in the various theatrical productions. In a private letter to the editor of the New York Sun in , written from the Adirondacks, where he had gone for the sake of his health, he dismissed Mansfield's portrayal as an offshoot of modern society. Hyde, Stevenson insisted, "is no more sexual than another".

He was certainly not, "Great Gods! There are many other allegorical interpretations of the story. Elementary Freudianism sees Jekyll as embodying the ego rational , Hyde the id instinctive. Jekyll has been seen as a drunk, a drug addict, a pederast, a closet homosexual.

In an excellent introduction to the Edinburgh University Press edition of the novella, Richard Dury ranges over a variety of possible readings, noting that of several "socially condemned activities" that Hyde is associated with, "veiled allusions to homosexuality are particularly frequent". The double life of Jekyll and Hyde can be seen as parallel to "the necessarily double life of the Victorian homosexual". Even though Stevenson may not have intended leaving them, there are suggestive markers throughout the text: the suspected blackmail of Jekyll by his "young man", his "favourite"; the "very pretty manner of politeness of Sir Danvers Carew" when approached in the street - terms that may have denoted forbidden liaisons to a Victorian readership.

The hidden door by which he enters Jekyll's house is the "back way", even "the back passage". It happens that the year of composition, , was the year in which an amendment to an act of parliament made homosexual acts between men a criminal offence.

Robert Louis Stevenson Sequels Prequels and Retellings

The most popular allegorical reading in our own day suggests that, although the action is set in Soho, the atmosphere is really that of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland and RLS's birthplace. In this view, the moral focus of the story is the Scottish character, burdened by dual nationality Scottish and British , caught between two tongues Scots and English , its instinctive spontaneity repressed by a Calvinistic church - the very church that once came between Stevenson and his father, and caused a split in the family.

Edinburgh is a city starkly divided into two: the foggy old town up on the hill, once the site of colourful crimes such as bodysnatching and of public hangings in the Grassmarket; and the splendid New Town to the north, on the other side of the then newly laid railway tracks. In Glasgow, where I grew up, the common perception of Edinburgh was of a cloudy inner life old town shielded by a genteel exterior New Town.

It was - how could you avoid saying so? The reclaiming of Stevenson's most famous work as a Scottish fable has a modern feel to it in this era of aspirationally independent Scotland, but it was suggested as early as by an American, Clayton Hamilton, who believed that the story might be "conceived as happening among the gloomy doorways and narrow wynds of the Scottish capital". GK Chesterton went further, stating that "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", though "presented as happening in London", was "very unmistakably happening in Edinburgh" - which is plausible, but unmistakably not the case.

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If Stevenson had wanted to set his story in Edinburgh, rather than the streets of Soho, he could have done so; if he had intended it to be read as a Scottish story, he would have made it one. After all, he had written plenty of others.

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He had even written an early study of the split personality in the form of a play, Deacon Brodie or the Double Life, in collaboration with his friend WE Henley. It is based on the career of William Brodie, who lived in Edinburgh's old town in the late 18th century, and was one of its more colourful criminals. In Stevenson and Henley's play, Brodie is a respectable cabinet-maker and deacon of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons by day. At night he dons a mask and burgles the houses of well-to-do Edinburgh citizens. In , the deacon was caught and hanged on a scaffold that had been designed according to his own technical specifications.


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It is, of course, possible to think of "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" as a study of the Scottish character - or of any of the other topics mentioned. All are reasonable suggestions, and most can be supported to some extent by textual evidence. The author himself not necessarily the most reliable guide stated that the central problem was Jekyll's hypocrisy.

In his letter to the New York Sun on the subject of Mansfield's sexual interpretation, he wrote that it was Jekyll's "selfishness and cowardice" that had let out the beast Hyde, "not this poor wish to have a woman". Above all, however, Stevenson was against simplicity.

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He might have agreed with Fanny that his original attempt had "missed the allegory", but he did not wish to have the allegory rigidly defined. As Stevenson's friend the poet and folklorist Andrew Lang recalled: "He told me once he meant to write a story about a fellow who was two fellows, which did not, when thus stated, seem a fortunate idea. Box office: Topics Fiction. Six centimetres in diameter and approximately thirty five centimetres in length, his manhood is worthy of a de Sade novel; Dr.

And yet, if we think of Jekyll and Hyde as a tale about the transformation of man, Borowczyk prompts us to think again. As its title suggests, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne places the emphasis as squarely on its heroine as it does on its flawed hero.

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Played by long term collaborator Pierro, Osbourne proves a formidable match for Jekyll and his alter ego, developing over the course of the narrative into an active agent in pursuit of her own desires. At the core of the film, in a remarkable set piece, Fanny conceals herself behind a pair of cabinets peering through the gap to watch her lover transform.

Osbourne and Hyde emerge from the alchemical solution as equals, and the film crescendos in a spree of devastation. The film culminates in an orgasmic spectacle of bloodlust, the unholy couple united at last not in the binds of matrimony but in the collision of Eros and Thanatos. Images of Osbourne and Hyde—now Jekyll and back again—writhing in a devouring embrace pile upon one another until it is unclear where the one ends and the other begins. A sharp decrescendo.