The Transition From Dr Jekyll To Mr Hyde Free Essay

Compare and contrast the way that the directors interpret the transition from Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde in John S. Robertson’s 1920 and Maurice Phillips’ 2003 films.

The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the greatest stories of all time and a literary classic which has been adapted into countless movies . One of the first adaptations of the film was in 1920, directed by John S Robertson and one of he latest adaptations was made in 2003, directed by Maurice Phillips . The adaptation of 1920 was a very high budget film, one of the biggest films of the time. The film starred John Barrymore, one of the best actors of the time , as well as Martha Mansfield and Brandon Hurst. The cast was a high profile one and the film tagline was ‘The worlds greatest actor in a tremendous story of man at his best and worst’. This shows that money was spent on the film and the film is still available today.

The second, more recent adaptation has been directed by Maurice Phillips in 2003 and stars John Hannah and David Warner. The movie was not shown in cinemas, unlike the 1920 film and is a low budget film which was made for television but nevertheless has many special effects .

Both films are based on the literary classic , which is about Dr Jekyll, a mild mannered, good Christian doctor who at night takes a potion and turns into the evil, horrendous Mr Hyde. The book is about how man is not one but truly two and that every person has a good side as well as a bad side. The book also highlights the hypocrisy of Victorian society . The book shows that Dr Jekyll turns himself into Mr Hyde because he wants to do the darker things in life but because he wants to maintain a good reputation, he turns himself into Mr. Hyde to do such dark deeds. He then is addicted to turning himself into Mr Hyde and commit such deeds.

Both transitions of Jekyll turning into Hyde are shown in different , but very effective ways. The scene in the 1920 version starts with Dr Jekyll making the potion. There are a number of camera shots that have been used, which were very advanced for the time. A fusion of two shots has been used, which involves Jekyll consuming the potion as well as Jekyll’s face superimposed over the top in close up. There is a close up on the face of Barrymore and there is a wide shot which has no effects.

The 2003 version has different s camera shots used. The scene starts with Jekyll meeting Hyde, and a panning effect is used so that Jekyll and Hyde are standing next to each other. The suspense is built through the wide variety of colours used, such as dark colours for Hyde and Jekyll has the spotlight shone on him to make his face look extremely white. This is because is white is considered angelic whereas black has mysterious and dark connotations. The camera moves slowly and there is a zoom effect used to zoom into Jekyll eye. This emphasises that Jekyll and Hyde are the person as well as add suspense.

There are different colours used in both adaptations of the book as well. The 2003 version is in full colour whereas the 1920 adaptation is in black and white, however, there are different shades of black and white used.

The 1920 film uses white light to represent Jekyll, as white has peaceful ,good and religious connotations whereas when Jekyll turns to Hyde, he is now darker, and has more of a shadow, this automatically suggests something sinister and evil. The 2003 adaptation is very similar as Hyde is shown in a shadow in the dark but Jekyll is shown in a lighter area and is not under a shadow. This is similar to the 1920 film and suggests that Jekyll is good whereas Hyde is evil. This is because the dark colours are mysterious whereas white is considered good.

Another main part of every film is what the characters say. The main job of the dialogue is to tell the story .In the 1920 version , there is no dialogue as technology at the time did not allow this. There is no sound on the film However, there is text so the viewers can understand what goes on and enjoy the film. The 2003 film is very similar here as even though the technology is far better and allows the characters to talk, there is not much dialogue in this scene. The characters say very little, this is because the scene is very visual and too much dialogue would ruin the action. The lack of words said between the characters also builds up suspense. Both films are very similar in this department, however, in the new film, the few words that are said, “Welcome Dr Jekyll ” build up suspense .

Another main feature of all movies is the soundtrack. Both adaptations have different types of music in the background . The 1920 film has calm music for the caption, so the viewers are not distracted as the words are essential for following the story. The actual transformation has extremely dramatic music, which would have been played by an organ in a cinema hall for the original audience. The music is extremely dramatic and has a “crazy” theme.

This music is a little over dramatic , nevertheless, this music gives the whole scene an out of this world effect, suggesting something amazing going on and goes well with the superb acting. The 2003 film has different music. The music is spooky and very eerie, suggesting suspense and mystery . There are also effects such as echo enhancing the mystery effect and there is also a use of dissonance , where the sound is distorted. Both films are difference in this category as the 1920 film is suggesting action; dramatic sense with the music but the 2003 film suggests a darker, sinister and mysterious air of the film.

The 1920 film has different camera angles as well as a sepia effect in the scene, which enhances the action. This effect was one of the best of the time and is still used in films today. The 2003 film has many more special effects. The same actor, John Hannah is shown in the same shot twice, staring at himself. This emphasises the message that the director is portraying, that every person has two sides and that nobody should be judged on face value . Jekyll is also seen walking into Hyde’s footprints which suggests that evil and good are in every man. This coincides with the fact that good vs. evil is one of the main themes of the book . The film also has a special effect where the camera zooms into the eye, which gives the effect that the viewer is going inside Jekyll’s mind.

Both films use lighting in a very similar way despite the differences in technology. The 1920 adaptation uses white light for the face of Jekyll , to suggest purity and innocence and black for Hyde to represent sinister and evil feelings.

The 2003 version is similar in this sense . Hyde being shown in dark light vagueness and immorality. Jekyll , however, has bright lighting on him which has pleasant connotations. This is extremely effective as Hyde and Jekyll both stand face to face during this scene.

Both films show the transformation very differently . The 1920 film shows a physical transformation and Barrymore expresses himself very well, which is proved by the fact that he dislocated his jaw while filming the movie. Jekyll turns into a large , ape like animal . This contrasts with the 2003 version where physically both Jekyll and Hyde are the same but inside they are completely different. There is no physical transformation in the film which shows that the director is trying to prove that not everything should be judged on surface value.


“Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” By Robert Louis Stevenson

With Reference to “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” By Robert Louis Stevenson, explore how Stevenson presents the notion of the duality of man. How does this reflect the era in which it was written?

When Robert Louis Stevenson first wrote “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, it was received with mixed emotions of shock and horror. The people who read it were used to his previous work which was much more tame and controversial; such as “Treasure Island” which is now a well know childhood story. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a Victorian gothic horror, which were known for being dark and for their use of formal dialogue, which often had metaphoric representation on the social conventions of the day. Stevenson’s book explores the ideas of the duality of man and the debates between religion and science for the origin of man which is then in turn affected by the differences between the classes of the time period.

When Stevenson wrote “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, it was a time of new discoveries and the industrial revolution, and science developments such as Darwin’s theory of evolution. This then caused conflict between the men of science and of religion, the religious side being in uproar from Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and the defiance of God. It was also a time of medical discovery, with grave robbers and body snatchers stealing bodies for medical advances, most famously Burke and Hare, as this was the only way for doctors to get the bodies they needed to further their knowledge.

We see Jekyll as two people, he was seen as wholesome and good, behind closed doors and entirely different to others. This is what Stevenson wanted to portray; the class divisions with the wealth, luxury, and power of an educated upper class. But when the public weren’t watching and the doors were closed, these images and masks of the upper class vanished along with Jekyll; they turned into something completely different- Hyde. Hyde, his alter ego, indulged his every whim, and did whatever he wanted without the though of responsibility or consequence.

Stevenson presented this duality of man within the same person, showing the differences that there can be between public and private life. At the time when Stevenson wrote “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, there was a great divide between the classes, even when they lived in such close quarters and we see this in the houses both men live in, Jekyll in a nice house but Hyde living in a slum around the corner. The working classes were the unfortunate, working many hours of the day, drinking gin well into the night to forget the reality of their lives.

This shows the contrasts between Jekyll and his alter ego Hyde. Hyde symbolises the brutality power, aggression and beast of man, whereas Jekyll is a kind brought up caring man. Although they are blatant and strong opposites, they are not completely different character. Even though Jekyll manages to release a evil and demonic person, he never manages to release the embodiment angelic qualities of pure good, Jekyll is a mixture of both these parts, this is because angels are to good to be given to humans in the eye of God.

“I have observed that when I wore the semblance of Edward Hyde, none could come near to me at first without a visible misgiving of the flesh. This, as I take it, was because all human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of goof and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.” P 73, chapter 10

Here Jekyll shows he understanding of Hyde and pure evil state and that himself, as human a mixture of both. Although this is the case there is a change in the definition of the character of Hyde, we start to see Jekyll as the villain. This leads us to believe that Jekyll is in fact more of threat than Hyde due the fact that he is fuelled by a stronger and more powerful motive and feelings.

Stevenson reflects the time of the era Science vs. Religion and the social divide using the two characters, he shows Jekyll as playing God and trying to use science to alter something of body and mind- something that is thought to be God’s job.

“It is more than ten years since Henry Jekyll became too fanciful for me. He began to go wrong, wrong in the mind; and though, of course, I continue to take an interest in him for old sake’s sake as they say, I see and I have seen devilish little of the man. Such unscientific balderdash” P 19

Stevenson using Lanyon’s viewpoint is important as it shows us the opinion of the story from someone else apart from Utterson, and helps us to believe what is happening, he uses it to show us how he believes something has gone wrong with Jekyll that has made him become unscientific and “fanciful”. The church’s reaction to “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was of shock and outcry, as what Jekyll did would be seen as playing God. This moral outrage would also have been raised by the Darwinism debate of the time, with Hyde’s appearance ape-like this shows Stevenson supporting the theory of evolution.

This theme of scientific experimentation and mutation means that you could take life into your own hands and became a favourite theme for most gothic rights due the conflict it caused due to outstanding issues. It suggested science was the key to life, not religion.

Robert Louis Stevenson develops his characters in such a way that it holds the tension, especially towards the end when it is brought to a climax. When we look at the character of Jekyll we see him as a man of the upper class, who was well liked and generous.

“Every mark of capacity and kindness-you could see by his look that he cherished for Mr. Utterson a sincere and warm affection” P 26

But as the story progresses, we can see through his actions that he is somewhat different to this in private, and is viewed in a different way by Lanyon after and argument.

“I wish to see or hear no more of Dr. Jekyll…whom I regard as dead” P 41

Throughout the story we view Jekyll as a good and generous man, which me only judge and hesitate due to Lanyon’s opinion of him. This opinion stays with us until later in the book when we start to see a “Hyde” type character immerge, this is due to power and greed until it reaches a point where we see, Hyde as the villain. It is because he tries to play God that both Lanyon and Danvers Carew die. We see him as the villain because he makes a choices to release Hyde as if he where a part of himself that he kept in check most of the time. Whereas Hyde does not make a choice whatsoever he is summoned to a man’s bidding and due to his lack of morals he does not question what is needed to be done.

I believe that that Jekyll and Hyde becomes more three-dimensional towards the end of the book as we start to sympathise with him due to his lack of control both when he’s summoned and the lack of control over his actions. We also feel this sympathy for Jekyll towards the end, as he has broken down and given in to the nature of Hyde, and in one of the last few times in which he is in

his normal form, he takes his own life in hope of finding some peace.

“Here, then, as I lay down the pen, and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.” P 88

Stevenson uses many different lingual devices and writing styles in his novel to portray the notion of the duality of man, he uses pathetic fallacy, in this case he uses the weather to describe and emphasise the mood of the piece. Pathetic fallacy is a common used factor in gothic horror novels, and it is commonly used with Hyde, for example, when the weather is dark and gloomy, Hyde will be particularly evil and darkened.

“A fog rolled over the city in the small hours, the early part of the night cloudless” P 29

Hyde is also only ever seen at night this shows him as a dark, mysterious that plays out the corner of the eye, lurking in the shadows of the unknown.

Stevenson uses linguistic tricks to portray the characters curiosity; this leads us, as the reader to become more curious as well. Stevenson uses Utterson’s dreams to help build up a sense of tension and pace. Utterson continues to be this worried and curious character throughout the book, and we follow him through it, we see and understand what he sees and understands until finally he unravels the mystery of the duality of Jekyll.

is Stevenson’s use of powerful descriptive pieces effectively, he uses these to help draw you into the text and into the feet of the characters. These long descriptive pieces help to portray the differences between contrasting characters, mood and tones of the settings as well as the characters, for example with Jekyll.

Stevenson’s novel is non-linear and fragmented, which means it doesn’t stick to a constant time line, jumping forwards and backwards in time, this itself is unlike many other novels of the time.

This creates a sense of suspense, causing the reader to need to know what is happening next. Stevenson uses many different styles of writing throughout the story ranging from letters to wills. Stevenson finishes the story with a letter, which ends the story clearly yet in a climatic way causing suspense throughout. These different conventions help to show the different ways the characters react to different situations and events.

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” caused many raging issues for all classes and affected all boundaries, not just because it was unlike anything Stevenson had written before, but because of its questioning nature. The most important question it asks is what is the duality of man and what are we? The story creates the idea that humans are in fact two separate entities. We see Jekyll attempting to do this, to separate man into good and evil, but he in fact plays with fire and failed.

In this Stevenson is suggesting that humans can’t play god, that certain things are beyond our control, and that trying and partially succeeding will have consequences that Jekyll wasn’t prepared to take. This is because we are we are a construction of God himself. This, could be seen as Stevenson taking the side of religion and suggesting that science could never replace the work of God because God is to powerful and that certain things beyond are knowledge can not be tampered with without trouble and that there is a duality of man then the conditions have not yet been found, and that until then God is still the control of Science.

Hamlet’s Hesitation Is Justified Sample

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hamlet is commanded by his father’s shade to revenge his slaying at the custodies of his uncle Claudius. Hamlet does non move instantly to acquire his retaliation. even when he is presented the perfect chance to make so. Throughout the drama. it is demonstrated that the immature prince’s vacillation is sensible. He doubts the narrative that the shade has told him and he wants to detect the truth before he acts. He is non a adult male of action and it is in the nature of his character that he hesitates. Furthermore. he wants to acquire a perfect retaliation so that Claudius will be genuinely punished. In the drama. Hamlet’s vacillation is justified because his morality prevents him from making immorality. his intellect causes him to believe before moving. and his practical nature leads him to be after for a perfect retaliation.

Hamlet is a morally good individual who does non desire to go immorality. which justifies his vacillation. When the shade first commands him to acquire his retaliation on Claudius. he does non move instantly because he does non swear the shade wholly: “Be thou a spirit of wellness or hob damn’d. ” ( 1. 4. 40 ) He can non let himself to move amorally. He wants to first do certain that Claudius truly murdered his male parent. Hamlet goes to lucubrate lengths to see if the male monarch is guilty. The immature prince arranges to detect Claudius’ reaction to the drama that he organized. and determine from this his guilt or artlessness.

…I’ll detect his expressions ;

I’ll tent him to the quick ; if he but blench.

I know my class. The spirit that I have seen

May be the Satan: and the devil hath power

To presume a pleasing form ; yea. and. possibly

Out of my failing and my melancholy.

As he is really powerful with such liquors.

Maltreatments me to curse me. I’ll have evidences

More comparative than this. The play’s the thing

Wherein I’ll catch the scruples of the male monarch. ( 2. 2. 594-603 )

In Hamlet’s eyes. Claudius’ reaction confirms his guilt. As a carnival minded and merely single. Hamlet must be certain before go throughing opinion. Now that his deliberation has allowed him to be certain of the king’s guilt. Hamlet is morally prepared to move. and his vacillation has therefore been rewarded.

As an rational. Hamlet is non given to being decisive ; he is brooding. which shows that his vacillation is justifiable. By wavering. Hamlet is moving in perfect agreement with his nature and is true to himself. A adult male who utters. “To be. or non to be…” ( 3. 1. 57 ) . can non be expected to take any of import action or do any of import determination without first weighing every possibility and sing every effect.

I am really proud. revengeful. ambitious. with more offenses at my beck than I have ideas to set them in. imaginativeness to give them form. or clip to move them in. ( 3. 1. 124-127 )

Hamlet gives a batch of ideas to his actions. and it is consistent with his character. When Hamlet kills Polonius. it happens in a minute of passion. and it is self-generated. He usually has to believe everything through before he acts. It is his character and he should non be blamed for wavering. Hamlet’s intellect pushes him to be a thoughtful individual and therefore. his vacillation is excusable.

Hamlet’s ideas are practical and he desires a perfect retaliation. which rationalizes his vacillation. In one critical episode. where Hamlet is detecting the male monarch at supplication. Hamlet’s practical nature is shown. Hamlet does non desire to kill Claudius at supplication because if he does. he will direct him straight to heaven. This is a destiny that Claudius had non permitted King Hamlet. Hamlet decides to wait until Claudius is transgressing.

When he is intoxicated asleep. or in his fury.

Or in the incestuous pleasance of his bed.

At bet oning. cursing. or about some act

That has no gusto of redemption in’t:

Then trip him. that his heels may kick at Eden

And that his psyche may be as damn’d and black

As snake pit. whereto it goes. ( 3. 3. 90-96 )

Hamlet’s practical head in action forces him to waver even though he is presented the perfect chance to acquire his retaliation. He wants Claudius to be punished distressingly. and this would be a better and more complete retaliation.

In the drama. Hamlet’s vacillation is justified because his morality prevents him from making immorality. his intellect causes him to believe before moving. and his practical nature leads him to be after for a perfect retaliation. He is really moral and he does non desire to go evil. He wants to be certain that Claudius truly murdered his male parent before he kills him. Furthermore. the kernel of his character delays him in taking actions. He is brooding and his vacillation is consistent with his character. Furthermore. Hamlet desires for a perfect retaliation that could penalize Claudius wholly. When the male monarch is praying. Hamlet hesitates to kill him because he does non desire to direct him to heaven. Throughout Hamlet. the magnitude of the immature prince’s practical. rational. and moral nature is revealed and hence. it is proven that Hamlet’s vacillation is just and justified.


Shakespeare. William. Hamlet. Canada: Harcout Brace Jovanovich Canada Inc. . 1988.

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