Nowhere to Hyde
Last time we talked about characters who are not what they seem. Folks who are introduced one way but are revealed to have a secret nature, or hidden depths, or a hidden agenda.
Another type of “hidden side” I enjoy is a little less universal, but can still be seen in a lot of fiction.
It's that “Hyde” inside us. The “animal” that exists within the civilized human, which is made up of our lizard brain qualities, our survival instincts, that gets to appear as a separate being in fiction.
Or in a different school of thought, it's the “dark impulses” within a human being…or even “the dark side” if one wants to think of it that way (though I think that might be going into somewhat different territory).
Anyway, I knew the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” story from cultural osmosis, probably, but I also remember reading the hardcover book which told the story of one of the movie versions - it was the 1931 version starring Fredric March. The apelike appearance of Mr. Hyde stuck in my memory from childhood - but it wasn't until last week that I actually saw that movie for the first time.
It was phenomenal, and incredibly risque and fast-paced for the time period, too. Which is kind of important to showing the animal-like impulses of Hyde and the kind of life he seeks out while he's in that persona. I saw an even earlier version, a silent film, and it was really good, too. I guess it's just a riveting story!
I may have seen the Sylvester and Tweety version of the story first, though (so good. Unforgettable).
The Jekyll and Hyde story exists elsewhere, too - maybe in earlier stories, but definitely later in movies about the Wolfman, and even later in comics like The Hulk. The Hulk is very much about the repressed rage and fury that can be buried deep down within a regular person.
In any case, it's a fascinating area of study, and wonderful territory for fiction!
A more sophisticated look at this exists in Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul, where we can see powerful impulses pitted against higher ideals within the main characters of those shows.
p.s. I love the story, presumably true, about the original Jekyll and Hyde novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson. When his wife read the book, she was so horrified she threw the manuscript in the fire, and Stevenson had to rewrite the whole thing.
What's your favorite Jekyll and Hyde type story or character?
Banes at 12:00AM, Nov. 21, 2019
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