The Film Adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a Literary Novella by Robert Louis Stevenson

Hartswood Films produced the British television series, Jekyll, in July of 2007. Although formally titled an adaptation of the famous literary novella, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, this five episode series is often described by its creators as a sequel to the novelette. Actively using Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale in the series serves as a back story to the main character, a modern day Dr. Jekyll, and of course Mr. Hyde. Adaptation in literature is literally defined as the adapting of a literary source to another genre or medium.

In this case specifically, the novella was uniquely adapted from literature to film for various expressive purposes. Perhaps most significantly, such an adaptation appeals to audiences because it already has attracted a group of followers. Throughout history, the tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been adapted countless times, and certainly innumerable times before this series was produced. This illusion of originality challenges literature’s one-sided art form, which in my opinion is rather captivating.

It also tests the assumption that the author’s writing is what we read. The simple way that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this story allows the reader to fill in the blanks, resulting in countless adaptations, all of which are innovative in their own ways. What makes this new-aged Jekyll and Hyde inspired television series so unique is simply the way it was adapted. This classic tale takes a turn for the unexpected, and as a “sequel” to the novella, gives closure to the primary fable.

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The plot alone takes this classic story and pushes it to boundaries not yet portrayed since the novella was written in 1886. It follows Doctor Tom Jackman, whom at the start of the series has abruptly abandoned his wife and two sons to live in a basement flat. Throughout the show, we are introduced to various characters, most of who the audience can deductively relate to the characters in the novella. For example, Dr. Jackman as well as his alter ego Mr. Hyde hire a psychiatric nurse to assist them with their condition, similar to the servant in the novella. Also, there is of course a Mr. Utterson, though the viewer soon comes to realize it is a Ms. Utterson rather, and more complicatedly this is actually the “Hyde” of Jackman’s mother. Overall however, the Hyde that we see in the series is extremely relatable to that of the original tale, yet completely dissimilar. In the television series, Hyde exhibits rage, superior forte and swiftness, and has a more coquettish manner. He also is younger and more appealing, contrasting the novella’s vague off-putting description of Mr. Hyde. Ingeniously, this series employs the use of depth by including a private security team that has stalked Jackman for life, attempting to keep his dark side in line. As Jackman is the direct descendent of Robert Louis Stevenson’s original Mr. Hyde, the show also makes use of the literal novella. In the end, the audience comes to realize that the “potion” Stevenson described was untrue, and that it was the woman Jekyll loved that triggered such a case. Thus, the surveillance company created a clone of the maid Jekyll loved in order to trigger his transformations, this of course being Dr. Jackman’s wife, Claire. In the end, out of such a complex plot arises a classic literary tale. This adaptation allows a historical and fictional amalgamation of a piece of literature that is still presently being adapted. Just as in biology, adaptation and variation is a part of nature and the artistic culture we surround ourselves in daily.

 

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The Film Adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a Literary Novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. (2022, Feb 23). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/the-film-adaptation-of-the-strange-case-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-a-literary-novella-by-robert-louis-stevenson/

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