Tag Archives: Jekyll and Hyde

“I am painfully situated… my position is a very strange–a very strange one. It is one of those affairs that cannot be mended by talking.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Every person, seemingly, has definitely heard of the tragedy of Jekyll and Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson’s shilling-shocker is captivating in its simplicity and the creation of creatures who dance in quick denouements of the plot and launch towards a tragic end of revelation. A favourite of many, RLS explores the duality of human nature, the dark, secret desire to dwell in the darkness, and till now it is an oft used term to hear someone term a disliked/volatile other as bearing a Jekyll-Hyde personality. In Jekyll and Hyde, I believe RLS engaged in some of the most innovative psychological thinking of his time.

Especially since I was an Edgar Allan Poe buff in childhood (into cults and cobras and the like then…thus now my capacity for strange tales if you care for it nowadays), the story of Jekyll/Hyde was attractive and deviant: a London lawyer Utterson investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the misanthropic Mr Edward Hyde, and discovers the two are one and the same. The failure to accept the necessary good/evil tension results in full-blown evil being projected on the other. The connection of modern beings with early revolutionary states, so called.

I picked up Robert Louis Stevenson again as part of my reading recently, and am reading a series of his stories – They have been brilliant reads, especially in the portrayal of Hyde beating down the poor woman in the streets, and its lack of proselytization and theorization (which Victor Hugo sometimes tires me for, though I still like VH).

The Body-Snatcher was especially a surprise, and simply because I don’t expect you, Beansprouts, to ever read a gothic tale as this, I think there is no crime in divulging the plot:

Four men sit drinking in a British tavern. There is a sick man in the house and a famous London doctor has been summoned to treat him. When one of the men, Fettes, hears the doctor’s name, Wolfe Macfarlane, he wakes suddenly from his drunken stupor and rushes to see the doctor’s face. He recognizes and threatens the doctor, who flees. Doctor Macfarlane and his accoster, Fettes, had studied medicine together under a famous–but unorthodox–anatomist.

They were in charge of obtaining bodies for dissection. Fettes regularly received and paid for corpses late at night from the men who robbed graves for them. One night, the body of a woman he knew was brought to his door; he was certain that she had been murdered but he said nothing. One day he met Macfarlane at a tavern. He was being strangely heckled by a man named Gray. The next night, Macfarlane showed up with Gray’s body and demanded payment for it. He had evidently murdered the man. Fettes was shaken but acquiesced. Soon the body was dissected, so the evidence of murder was gone.

Later, Fettes and Macfarlane were sent to a country church yard to exhume a recently buried woman. They sat their package between them as they traveled back. Suddenly, they perceived a change in the body. Unnerved, they got out a light and uncovered the face of the corpse. It was Gray.

Strangely, the tale stayed with me for quite awhile, long after I had read it. Perhaps it is because my mother in my childhood had recounted days where her medical school friends had gone to the cemetaries to dig up bodies for parts (illegal of course, shh) and the darkness of that act struck me, even as a child, though she recounted it in an air of nonchalance. But this nonchalance stays for some of my medical school friends, who after a period, would sometimes become desensitized to the thin line between life and death.

But cadavers are likely to stay with us for some time:

UCLA to Temporarily Stop Accepting Bodies

By MASON STOCKSTILL, Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES – Amid an internal probe into the alleged illegal sale of body parts, the University of California, Los Angeles, has agreed to stop accepting donated cadavers, a lawyer for the university said.

Officials with the medical school said the willed body program will hold bodies already donated for medical research and education in cold storage while the internal investigation continues.

“Whether or not UCLA will restart the program is a decision that has not been made at this time and will not be made for some period of time. It is being examined,” UCLA attorney Louis Marlin said after a Superior Court hearing Tuesday.

Marlin said the move, incorporated into a restraining order Tuesday, was needed to reassure anyone whose family members had willed their body to the university or anyone planning to.

“This was done … in order to protect all of those interests, and in light of the grave concerns that UCLA has for the family members,” he said.

As part of the deal, officials agreed that students in the gross anatomy lab would be able to continue to use 25 to 30 bodies. The university said it will not accept more bodies without Superior Court Commissioner Bruce Mitchell’s approval.

The hearing was for a lawsuit filed in 1996 by relatives of people whose bodies had been donated to the university for medical research. The suit charged that thousands of cadavers had been illegally disposed of.

On RLS’s grave it was quoted:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

 I mentioned The Body-Snatcher to my newfound tablemate, G, recently, and surprisingly he knew of it and shared with me of his personal experience. G came in from a background in biological science, and transferred to finance for reasons, as he explained, associated with the culture of labs and experiments, and how he had felt himself trip towards a certain path of madness. Well, most of the time I am more fond of animals than humans, so I could relate to that, ha ha.

(ps: G is awesome, Beansprouts. As I think I mentioned, he reads Dante, is a vocalist for a Japanese rock band, plays poker and is going to teach me bridge/shoji, plays all sorts of sports (a sort of Simon), gets lost in Japan and speaks rather fluent Japanese, did lots of xiang sheng when he was a kid, loves cats (he has a cat figurine on his table) and has Japanese sweets on his table (melon, milk, and all sorts). Of course, you know that since he sits just next to me, I am most thrilled about the last aspect ha ha!)

Another favourite of mine was Olalla – a lycanthropic tale of a young military man’s mystical love for the mysterious Olalla, the hauntingly beautiful young woman who represents the last of a dying family. According to one critic, writing in a review in 1887, “An eerier and more powerful tale than Olalla it would not be easy to discover” (R. H. Hutton, Spectator March 1887).

Robert Louis Stevenson was oft dismissed in his time as a writer merely to ‘capture the romantic spirit of the nineties’, as an embarassed dark child not to be associated with the classic literary canon, a writer whose tales were to be associated with the modern, discussed in hushed tones. Especially in the aftermath of the Great War, literature focused on the orgy of war propaganda and greatness (Dante and the like), but in a way, my liking was always spiralling down the dark downward imperial path (especially in my liking for Joseph Conrad), and so RLS fits befittingly well in that category. Stevenson’s originality, as Reid has suggested, lies in the full rejection of the idea of glorious progress towards a golden stage of human development and psychological history, and his celebration of primitive states of human consciousness. For him there were no such artificial and created boundaries.

“Man has risen; if he has sprung from the bones, he can descend again to the same level.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Have been slightly happier lately. I think. The cat’s helping. I’ve moved on from statistics to economics – and the economics portion is easy – so I hope to stay there longer so I won’t have to go back to chi square and f test calculations and what not. Wish I had Simon’s brain for that matter!


Hidden Council Annual Costume Ball

S devised the most fabulous idea for her birthday party tomorrow- a murder mystery costume ball – with fantasy creatures! There are faint names of Greek gods and relationships, both of which I adore, and I can’t wait. I have been obsessed with Agatha Christie’s complete series of stories lately, and secretly wishing I could be in the midst of a murder mystery. Yes, I am like one of those maidservants in Hercule Poirot that gets inordinately excited that my master has been murdered!~

The introduction to the costume ball: “It is again time for the Hidden Council’s Annual Costume Ball. Everyone is very excited. Recently, there have been several Mortal Watchers murdered. As we all know, the Watcher’s are very important to the Immortals. They stand between us, and the discovery of our existence by the mortal world. The Watchers ensured all tales of the Immortals became Fairy Tales or Mythology. We all know that if the mortals were to discover our existence, there would be widespread panic and “Witch Hunts”. We must discover who is threatening our existence and put an end to it. A Spectral Inquisitor will be attending, to help us discover who is behind these murders. Those that cannot attend will receive a personal visit from the Inquisitor for interrogation. We think most would prefer to handle this meeting with a crowd around!”

“Your Character’s Background has most of the information you will need to play your character. It will give you a general background on your character. You may have instructions to do something at the beginning of the evening. Do this as soon as possible as it needs to be accomplished before the murder can take place! Use the background as a foundation for your character & feel free to introduce new information or stories about your character.
Upon arriving, you will receive a nametag, game money and any other props your character may require. Later you will receive a Confidential Booklet with lots of secrets and instructions. Call it ammunition if you will! Any information that would incriminate or embarrass your character should be kept secret for as long as possible. Other information, however, should be used in whatever way you deem most beneficial to you. Bribery and extortion are encouraged. Use the knowledge you have, as you can be sure others will use their information against you!”

I would love LOVE to have a murder mystery (but a different sort, I want it to be terribly terribly English) at a birthday party one day. But there must be jazz and I don’t know how Hercule Poirot feels about jazz and Chet Baker. I think I would like a decadent sort of party like in Marie Antoinette where guests stream over fields without shoes afterwards (and they are nice fields haha)

I haven’t written about D’s party that I attended on Christmas Eve (or was it NY? Hmm…) yet but there are a million photographs from the event and it was mischievious, lackadaisical FUN. It was a neon-themed party~ and the food was spectacular and we played with fireworks sticks as we did the countdown!~ Aw….~

Preview video from the party~!! Click here >> http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v128/s-urreal/?action=view¤t=CIMG6407.flv

Sorry for an outside link as I just couldn’t figure out how to embed it…

Also funky party photographs until I figure out a time to write abt it… 😄


Esmonde selects this moment to declare his love for XJ…

Our whole party crew!~~

More photographs up next time : ).

Oh yes and I am currently addicted to Robert Louis Stevenson’s stories and especially his shilling shocker version of Jekyll and Hyde. (unabridged version) Its amazing, I had always knew offhand the abridged version before, but reading it was like discovering Edgar Allan Poe for the first time. His version of Body-snatchers was also phenomenal, and I love the cold-hearted rendition of his characters and his darker interpretation of a nativity sort of tale (Oscar Wildish) in Olallah.

Some quotes from the first chapter to pique your interest to read the book …

“‘I incline to Cain’s heresy,’ he used to say quaintly: ‘I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.'”

“You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden and the family have to change their name. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.”

From Wiki:

“This story represents a concept in Western culture, that of the inner conflict of humanity’s sense of good and evil. The novella has been interpreted as an examination of the duality of human nature (that good and evil exists in all) and that the failure to accept this tension (to accept the evil or shadow side) results in the evil being projected onto others. Paradoxically in this argument, evil is actually committed in an effort to extinguish the perceived evil that has been projected onto the innocent victims. In Freudian Theory the thoughts and desires banished to the unconscious mind motivate the behaviour of the conscious mind. If someone banishes all evil to the unconscious mind in an attempt to be wholly and completely good, it can result in the development of a Mr Hyde-type aspect to that person’s character. This failure to accept the tension of duality is related to Christian theology where Satan’s fall from Heaven is due to his refusal to accept that he is a created being (that he has a dual nature) and is not God. This is why in Christianity pride (to consider oneself as without sin or without evil) is the greatest sin as it is the precursor to evil itself, it also explains the Christian concept of evil hiding in the light. The novella has also been noted as “one of the best guidebooks of the Victorian era” because of its piercing description of the fundamental dichotomy of the 19th century “outward respectability and inward lust” as this period had a tendency for social hypocrisy.

Various direct influences have been suggested for Stevenson’s interest in the mental condition that separates the sinful from moral self. Among them are the Biblical text of Romans (7:20 “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”); the split life in the 1780s of Edinburgh city councillor Deacon William Brodie, master craftsman by day, burglar by night; and James Hogg’s novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), in which a young man falls under the spell of the devil.

Literary genres which critics have applied as a framework for interpreting the novel include religious allegory, fable, detective story, sensation fiction, doppelgänger literature, Scottish devil tales and gothic novel. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has been the influence for The Hulk, Two-Face and the general superhero genre for the story’s ties to a double life.

The duality in the novella has led to a variety of different interpretations. These include readings which see the work as being a Victorian morality tale of unleashed sexual depravity, or an allegory for the necessarily double life of the Victorian homosexual. A common interpretation sees the novella’s duality as representative of Scotland and the Scottish character. On this reading the duality represents the national and linguistic dualities inherent in Scotland’s relationship with the wider Britain and the English language respectively, and also the repressive effects of the Calvinistic church on the Scottish character. A further parallel is also drawn with the city of Edinburgh itself, Stevenson’s birthplace, which consists of two distinct parts: the old medieval section historically inhabited by the city’s poor, where the dark crowded slums were rife with all types of crime, and the modern Georgian area of wide spacious streets representing respectability.”

One of RLS’s better known quotes:

“All error, not merely verbal, is a strong way of stating that the current truth is incomplete. The follies of youth have a basis in sound reason, just as much as the embarrassing questions put by babes and sucklings. Their most antisocial acts indicate the defects of our society. When the torrent sweeps the man against a boulder, you must expect him to scream, and you need not be surprised if the scream is sometimes a theory. Shelley, chafing at the Church of England, discovered the cure of all evils in universal atheism. Generous lads irritated at the injustices of society, see nothing for it but the abolishment of everything and Kingdom Come of anarchy. Shelley was a young fool; so are these cocksparrow revolutionaries. But it is better to be a fool than to be dead. It is better to emit a scream in the shape of a theory than to be entirely insensible to the jars and incongruities of life and take everything as it comes in a forlorn stupidity. Some people swallow the universe like a pill; they travel on through the world, like smiling images pushed from behind. For God’s sake give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself! As for the others, the irony of facts shall take it out of their hands, and make fools of them in downright earnest, ere the farce be over. There shall be such a mopping and a mowing at the last day, and such blushing and confusion of countenance for all those who have been wise in their own esteem, and have not learnt the rough lessons that youth hands on to age. If we are indeed here to perfect and complete our own natures, and grow larger, stronger, and more sympathetic against some nobler career in the future, we had all best bestir ourselves to the utmost while we have the time. To equip a dull, respectable person with wings would be but to make a parody of an angel”

He also wrote a series of children’s verses:

“I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.”

My Shadow, st. 1

“The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart. “

The Cow, st. 1

Hahaha I love the last verse so much, I am going to recite it to you the next time we speak, Beansprouts! You are all Sydney Boy now and do not care for CP one bit, eh? I shall give you no tiramisus and no apple tarts.

Panda party!!~~ I *heart* Kelly~