Everyone has heard of The Strange Tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.1 The story is usually thought to be a creepy science fiction account of a terrifying creature run amok or a psychological drama depicting the monster lurking in the heart of every man and woman. The reality is both more complicated and more terrifying. The tale depicts the consequences of our collective refusal to encounter ourselves. Like Klaus Mann and Patricia Highsmith, Stevenson thinks that masochistic and sadistic acts are symptomatic of a deeper evil—our profound ignorance of who we are. Science fiction monsters are rare; deluded, self-evading people are common. We are more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than we suspect.
KeywordsHunt Cane Trench Ghost Toll
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- 1.Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ed. Leonard Wolf, The Essential Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde ( New York: Penguin Group, 1995 ).Google Scholar
- 22.Robert Louis Stevenson, “Letter to Myers,” The Essential Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ed. Leonard Wolf ( New York: Penguin Group, 1995 ), p. 272.Google Scholar