Dr. Jekyll Muse

I’m gearing up for the release of my new MONSTER. It’s a contemporary, romantic suspense novella inspired by the Robert Louis Stevenson classic — “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Having immersed myself in the original, shying away from all the movie versions while I was working on my own, I’m now curious about what other people think of when they hear that famous title.

There are so many variations on the seductive Jekyll/Hyde theme. Everything from “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” with Boris Karloff, and a bunch of Jekyll & Hyde Looney Tunes cartoons (including “Hyde & Go Tweet” with Sylvester and Tweety) to less direct interpretations like the episode of the original “Star Trek” where a transporter malfunction splits off the aggressive (impulsive, assertive, commanding, violent, decisive) aspects of Captain Kirk into one Kirk, while leaving the contemplative (compassionate, thoughtful, empathetic, measured, passive) aspects to stew in a turmoil of indecision. The lesson in the “Star Trek” episode was that the whole Kirk functioned as a balance between his aggressive and passive halves, each bringing essential qualities to the table.

Every couple of years since the 1887 debut of a theatrical production in Boston, there’s been a new film, TV or stage interpretation. I know I’ve seen several film versions and read a few stories, too, but the one that comes to mind is the 1941 version with Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. It loomed in my imagination even while I read the original.

Which Jekyll & Hyde version is the first to pop into your head? Is it the Jekyll & Hyde musical that debuted on Broadway in 1997 and is periodically revived in various venues? Is it the 1931 film starring Frederick March? There’s one with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, have you seen it?

In Robert Louis Stevenson’s story, the good Dr. Jekyll is surrounded by a group of supportive, if mystified, friends. The female characters in the tale are basically plot devices — a great deal less important than I remember the roles played by the two fine actresses in the 1941 film. That led me to the decision to write my version with a decidedly feminist slant. My good doctor is a woman and she has three close friends — and an entire cast of characters— in her busy life. I won’t go as far as to say that all the men are plot devices. One is, to a point, and the others just like any other characters, full personalities dedicated to serving the story. That’s the point in storytelling; characters must help move the plot forward, mechanical plot devices or not. Turn about is fair play anyway, right?


  1. Allan Krummena cker

    Sounds intriguing, I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with in your version. I’m familiar with several different versions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the silent film with John Barrymore, Spencer Tracy’s wonderful performance, of course Abbot and Costello’s, Fredrick Marsh’s and of course the Broadway Musical. I too have read the original itself so I’m really intrigued with what you’ve shared with your approach. Keep us posted.

    • Candy

      Will do… I’ll be shouting from the virtual rooftops when this one is available on Amazon! (Twitter, Facebook, this blog…)

      I’ve never seen the silent film with Barrymore. Time for me to check it out!

  2. Hm… I guess I always think of the original story, followed closely by the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But I’m psyched you’ve got a new Monsters coming out!

    • Candy

      I’m confessing to NEVER having read the original until I was looking for source material for the 4th in the Monsters series. I’d seen movies, spoofs, etc. but never the original. It was a surprising read. Some aspects were dated and others were timeless. I also noted that it was published before Freud, so the ideas about good & evil were rooted in an earlier philosophical framework. It’s hard for us, in the 21st century, not to be cognizant of the ID, EGO, SuperEgo, etc. of the 20th century.

  3. The series Jekyll on the BBC was well done. That is one of the most recent versions of the story I have seen.

    I have never read the book. I should probably fix that.

  4. I confess – I haven’t read the original either. 🙁 I remember the story [vaguely] from having watched it on TV when I was a kid. That probably means it was one of the old movie classics, no idea which. In a way though I’m not sure reading the original is necessary because the concept itself has taken such firm root in our collective conscious.

    Really looking forward to seeing what you have made of the concept. 🙂

    • Candy

      Having already compared Bram Stoker’s Dracula to an amazing number of movies, TV shows and even a Broadway musical; compared Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein to a comparable number of films, plays & TV shows; and tried to draw connections between Poe’s original stories and the wacky, scary Vincent Price movies I loved watching on TV as a child, I should have been prepared for the disparity between what Stevenson wrote and what I knew from the movies. But I wasn’t. Still, I did feel like I didn’t need permission to go my own way with the inspiration.

        • Candy

          I hope you enjoy it. It’s a big departure for me as I’ve ventured into romantic suspense. It’s a genre I’ve read, with varying degrees of pleasure, just about my entire life, so I hope my take on the delicate balance between suspense/mystery & romance manages to hug that line between genres. Again, I’ve set it in NYC, so at the very least I know I’ve got the geography & settings right.

  5. Dr. Jekyll served as the main text for the reading class I had to take a a ninth grader… so it’s safe to say I have a love/hate relationship with that book. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what twists you add to the tale.

    • Candy

      I’ve gon further afield on this one than on the other MONSTERS. The original is a starting point — and a theme — but not a shot for shot guide (like POED). I hope you like it!