The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Table of Contents
Important Background 3
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1850. His family included engineers, scientists, a professor of philosophy, and a religious minister, and we can see the scientific and religious sides of Stevenson's family reflected in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Stevenson was a sickly child (he had serious lung problems) who read a great deal about travel and adventure. A combination of his love of adventure and ill health led him to spend many years as a writer travelling the world in search of a climate that was healthier than Britain's.
In 1890, he went to live in the remote Samoan Islands in the South Pacific. He died there in 1894 at the age of 44.
Nowadays, this book is often referred to more simply as ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ – the phrase it helped to coin.
Intriguingly, the names Jekyll and Hyde seem to have a double meaning. The two syllables of Jekyll's name (Je and kyll) perhaps mean 'I kill' (Je is the French for I). In the last chapter, Jekyll describes how he tried to get rid of/kill the Hyde in him.
Hyde, meanwhile, spelled as 'hide' suggests something hidden from view, or the rough skin of an animal. Jekyll is, effectively, trying to kill the hidden Hyde and his animal nature.
In 1859, when Stevenson was nine years old, Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species – which became famous for introducing the Theory of Evolution to the public.
Many people saw it as an attack on religion, because the book made it...