In The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson brings to life one of the most compelling and original monsters ever written.

The obvious monster is Mr Hyde: the snarling, feral mass of murderous impulses. First, Hyde beats up a little girl. Later, he stamps an kindly white-haired old man to death – and enjoys it. Hyde is the creation or alter ego of an eminent doctor. When Jekyll takes the potion, he is transformed, out of himself into Hyde – unrecognisable.

We meet the eminent Dr Jekyll, cowering in darkness, haunted, and feel sorry for him. But he is the real monster. Hyde’s body is his body; Hyde’s nature is his nature, and is his own creation. Dr Jekyll is a man who craves respectability at any price.
In order to preserve his respectability, and indulge his darkest desires, Dr Jekyll works on a compound that will transform him – separate his good and bad natures, and let it loose. It’s an addiction. Though Jekyll is appalled, he always needs one more hit. He enjoys the transformation, enjoys the power, enjoys the feeling of keeping clean. With his alter-ego, Jekyll enjoys rolling in the dirt.

It’s like the question: if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? If we do mean, cruel, disgusting things, does it matter if no-one finds out? Various experiments have proved that in darkened rooms, more people will cheat for a financial gain. Under cover of darkness, when we think that we can’t be seen, we lose our inhibitions. More crimes are committed under cover of darkness than in daylight.
Respectability and social pressures of the Victorian era are hard for us to understand today. We can easily understand that it’s not okay to beat small children and kindly old men. But what’s harder is to feel the social pressures that Stevenson was working in. In some ways, this morality tale is too sharply cut: none of us want to beat old men, or small children – hopefully.