The gothic genre

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a text in the gothic genre. Gothic literature emerged in the 18th century with novels by authors such as Ann Radcliffe and Horace Walpole. The genre is characterized by a sense of mystery, fear, and horror, and by dark or dramatic scenes. Many gothic novels involve the supernatural or the unexplainable, as well as crimes and secrets. 

The genre saw a revival of interest in the 19th century, with examples such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), and the short stories of American writer Edgar Allan Poe. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is part of this tradition, with its references to crime, the monstrous, and the supernatural, as well as its use of suspense and mystery. 

The gothic nature of the story can be seen particularly in the final chapter, where Dr Jekyll describes his experiences of transforming into Mr Hyde. One example is the scene in which Dr Jekyll first takes the drug:

Late one accursed night, I compounded the elements, watched them boil and smoke together in the glass, and when the ebullition had subsided, with a strong glow or courage, drank off the potion. 

 The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at t…


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson has many similarities to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, written around 70 years earlier. Both novels feature brilliant doctors who push their experiments too far and end up releasing terrible monsters who serve as evil doubles (doppelgangers) for the doctors. Both monsters are deformed and ugly, causin…


Movie adaptations

There have been over 120 film adaptations of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the earliest of which dates from 1908. 

The most famous one is perhaps the silent horror film adaptation from 1920 directed by John S. Robertson and starring John Barrymore as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The film draws on the 1887 stage play version, and therefore includes the character of Dr Jekyll’s fiancée. It also emphasizes the good in Dr Jekyll’s nature, portraying him as almost saintlike. 

The 1920 adaptation also draws on elemen…

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