The Film Adaptation of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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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 backstory 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.

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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. 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, who, 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 whom 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 strength, swiftness, and a more coquettish manner. He is also younger and more appealing, contrasting the novella’s vague, off-putting description of Mr. Hyde. Ingeniously, this series employs depth by including a private security team that has stalked Jackman his entire life in an attempt to keep his dark side in check. As Jackman is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson’s original Mr. Hyde, the show also pays homage to the literal novella. In the end, the audience realizes that the “potion” Stevenson described was fiction, and it was the woman Jekyll loved who truly triggered such a transformation. The surveillance company, therefore, created a clone of the woman Jekyll loved to trigger his transformations, this woman being Dr. Jackman’s wife, Claire. From this complex plot emerges a classic literary tale. This adaptation allows for a historic and fictional melding of a piece of literature that is still being adapted today. Just as in biology, adaptation and variation are integral parts of nature and the artistic culture we immerse ourselves in daily.

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The Film Adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (2022, Nov 16). Retrieved from