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Jeckyl and Hyde Thoughts
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Inspired by the recent movie-viewing, I reread _The Strange Case of Doctor Jeckyl and Mister Hyde_. Some observations follow.

None of the film adaptations have really portrayed the moral weakness of the character as written. Film Jeckyls are all basically working from good intentions, with the creation of Hyde being an unfortunate accident. In the book, Jeckyl deliberately sets out to unleash Hyde.
If each, I told myself, could but be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust might go his way, delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil.
(emphasis added)

Ok, granted, he also wanted (or claimed to want) to create an angelic self -- but in this, he failed utterly, as he himself realizes.
...although I had now two characters as well as two appearances, one was wholly evil, and the other was still the old Henry Jekyll, that incongruous compound of whose reformation and improvement I had already learned to despair. The movement was thus wholly toward the worse.

There is no mention of any further attempt to create an angel-self. Instead, Jeckyl indulges his Hyde-self to an ever-increasing degree. Unlike most movie versions, he does this while in full control of his faculties, and with each side having clear memories of the other's actions. Though he is thus fully culpable for Hyde, hear how he struggles, ineffectually, to distance himself from his own evil:
When I would come back from these excursions, I was often plunged into a kind of wonder at my vicarious depravity. This familiar that I called out of my own soul, and sent forth to do his good pleasure, was a being inherently malign and villainous; his every act and thought centered on self; drinking pleasure with bestial avidity from one degree of torture to another; relentless like a man of stone. Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde; but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde. And thus his conscience slumbered.


I note that Jeckyl and Hyde are *very* physically distinct in the book, much moreso than could be portrayed by a single actor, no matter how much makeup he wears. (And there are definite thematic drawbacks to using two actors.) But we now have not just makeup, but CGI and motion-capture. It might be interesting if someone applied techniques such as those used in the last several Robert Zemeckis films to an adaptation of this story. One actor could provide voice and movement for both J&H, while being 'projected' into two radically different bodies.

This line of thought is also inspired by the reactions everyone in the novel have to Hyde. Those reactions bear a strong resemblance to those caused by The Uncanny Valley. Of course, one would want the technical art to have progressed to the point that *only* Hyde was situated in that valley!

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Was the approach used in the film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen not physically distinct enough...?
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Not actually an adaptation of the story, just inspired by at multiple removes. Also, see below.
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For some reason people who do distinguish physically seem to want to make Hyde larger and more imposing than Jekyll, too, for reasons which make some psychological sense but aren't really in line with what the novel says, if I recall properly.
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Quite correct.
I must here speak by theory alone, saying not that which I know,
but that which I suppose to be most probable. The evil side of my
nature, to which I had now transferred the stamping efficacy, was
less robust and less developed than the good which I had just
deposed. Again, in the course of my life, which had been, after
all, nine-tenths a life of effort, virtue, and control, it had
been much less exercised and much less exhausted. And hence, as I
think, it came about that Edward Hyde was so much smaller,
slighter, and younger than Henry Jekyll.
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Otherwise, a great job! Makes more sense than much of the lit crit I've seen on the novella.
Boy the archetypes were emerging in literature at an amazing rate in the fin de siecle (19-20), if we count the 1886 appearance of this text. Then think about Dorian Gray (1890); the H.G. Wells scientific romances, each one establishing a standard trope of SF: The Time Machine, THe War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau (all 1890s. And Dracula (1897).

Not so in the most recent fin de siecle. All we've got this time is varieties of apocalypse. I guess that 2012 could be counted the last year of the "turn of the millennium."
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Boy the archetypes were emerging in literature at an amazing rate in the fin de siecle ... Not so in the most recent fin de siecle

I disagree.

Lara Croft. Indiana Jones. Darth Vader... all right, most of Star Wars. Hannibal Lecter. Freddy Krueger. Leatherface. Jason. Cole Sear. John McClane. Mulder. Scully. Buzz Lightyear. Spawn. Stephen Colbert.

Cyberpunk is a genre which contains several tropes -- most of which were created in the current fin de siecle.
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Most of these are way too, well, post-modern to be archetypes--they are riffs upon riffs: for example, Lara Croft is herself a riff on Indiana Jones (the heroic archaeologist), but since Indiana Jones is derived from a combination of RL archaeologists--Roy Chapman Andrews is often cited as one, it's hard to call him archetypal.
The Serial Killer seems to me a direct descendant of none other than Edward Hyde, considering what else was happening in 1886...
Mulder and Scully are psychic detectives, another genre that became popular at the fin de siecle. I believe that they are not a new archetype, but a version or transformation of The Wizard. And Van Helsing is their direct ancestor.
Buzz Lightyear--isn't he a parody of the heroic spacefarer, with a good touch of the heroic Mountie (he looks and sounds a lot like Dudley Do-right).

But who can predict? I don't think that critics in the late 1880s (or Stevenson) dreamed that over a century later, people would refer to "Jekyll and Hyde transformations" without ever having read the book, or that "having a portrait in your attic" would continue to be meaningful as pop culture reference. But somehow, I don't think that Freddy or Jason will survive--though the trope of the masked/disguised Serial Killer (also found in Silence of the Lambs) will.
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Lara Croft: I largely agree, not very archetypical

Indiana Jones: Disagree. 'Derived from reality' in no way prevents someone from being an archetype.

Serial Killer: I have a third take. Edward Hyde is not a serial killer, he has a grand total of one murder to his 'credit'. OTOH, the serial killer genre has its roots in real serial killers, most specifically Jack the Ripper.

Mulder and Scully: Agreed.

Buzz Lightyear: Agreed.

Darth Vader, while he is a synthesis of pre-existing elements, I think qualifies as archetypical now.

Luke Skywalker, not so much, as he's really a fairly generic 'hero' type.

Han Solo is in no way original, but has become the modern face of his Type.

Is Spawn really an archetype? I'm so out of the 'superhero' comics scene that I'm unaware of any trends that he's at the root of.

Cole Sear (who I had to google, but did recognize the reference) is part of a story that may be archetypical, but the character itself is not.

Stephen Colbert may prove to be a lasting archetype. His brand of satire is, I think, traceable to The Onion, but he's the first specific *person* to embody that style (AFAIK).
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Lara Croft: I largely agree, not very archetypical I think of her as being very much of her era. She's tough, smart, deadly, and sexy. She's the Bond Girl made into a lead character. There have certainly been other tough broads before (Marian Ravenswood comes to mind), but I can't think of anyone who combines deadly with sexy and is a lead -- and a good guy. Hmm... Modesty Blaise, but she didn't have the cultural impact of Tomb Raider

Serial Killer: I have a third take. Edward Hyde is not a serial killer
I don't think Hyde is a Serial Killer. I think he's a Dark Reflection, but I don't think the archetype originated with him. He's just the Industrial Revolution's incarnation of the archetype.

Mulder and Scully: Agreed. Really? I think the concept of 'an X-file' is something which has legs beyond the fans of the show.

Buzz Lightyear: Agreed. Fine. Kirk, then. The Daring Space Guy is definitely a 20th Century Archetype.

Is Spawn really an archetype? I'm so out of the 'superhero' comics scene that I'm unaware of any trends that he's at the root of.

Spawn is the Bad Guy Who Fights Worse Guys. He made a deal with The Devil (literally) but uses his powers to go after worse things than himself. It's been done before (Ghost Rider or even Merlin, depending on who you talk to), but Spawn was at the forefront of a new wave of Good Guys who draw their powers from tainted sources. Look at Dexter or Brimstone.

Cole Sear (who I had to google, but did recognize the reference)
To be honest, I had to look up his name myself. That being said, The Creepy Kid is definitely an Archetype from the turn of the most recent century. I probably should have said "Damien". The kid from The Shining, the eternally little girl vampire from Interview with the Vampire, The Children of the Corn, Linda Blair in The Exorcist, George Romero's Martin, etc. Somewhere around 1970 or so, kids went from being icons of innocence to icons of creepiness. I can think of one or two examples that pre-date the 70s (Anthony from "It's a Good Life", the nameless baby from Bradbury's "Small Assassin"), but those are different enough types from each other that I don't think they count as an archetype.

Stephen Colbert may prove to be a lasting archetype. His brand of satire is, I think, traceable to The Onion, but he's the first specific *person* to embody that style (AFAIK).
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I can't think of anyone who combines deadly with sexy and is a lead -- and a good guy.

Xena. Wonder Woman. And, going back, Amazons in general.

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My bad. Deadly, sexy, and smart. Neither Xena nor Wonder Woman are known for their intellect.
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There are no new ideas, especially if you stand far enough back from them. Hyde/Jekyll aren't The Serial Killer at all; they're The Beast Within, and descended from people like Bluebeard (who predates Jack the Ripper and Hyde by a good 100 years), and before that any of the shape-shifting beast men. Ovid, Herodotus, and Virgil all talk about people who are good by day but monsters by night (or under other circumstances).

Indiana Jones is just The Clever Hero at an archaeologist's site. He could easily be Odysseus.

Mulder and Scully are psychic detectives... a version or transformation of The Wizard. And Van Helsing is their direct ancestor.

Van Helsing might be their ancestor, but he has plenty of antecedents himself. History is full of "Wise Old Men with Secret Knowledge".

If you want to discount all of the 20th/21st century archetypes as having roots somewhere else, I think it's only fair to discard those 19th/20th century archetypes that have clear precedents.
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I forget -- you've seen the BBC series Jekyll with James Nesbitt, right? If not, run don't walk, to get it. It's neither a re-telling nor a sequel, but a good blend of both.
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Saw it, showed it to Kestrell, bought the DVD (which lives in her room) :-)
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