All Church And No Prostitutes Would Have Made Robert A Dull Boy
Jekyll and Hyde is more Gothic than a black cat wearing a skull collar, sat on the turret of a crumbling castle, listening to The Cure on its iPod.
Stevenson wrote it whilst being consumed by consumption, coughing up blood and taking drugs (probably cocaine, for the pain, and possibly, funzies), and according to his stepson, he would read large sections out to everyone in a frantic manner, and the first draft was finished in three days. He then burned it, as his wife Fanny said it was rubbish. And then rewrote it in another three to six days, taking a further 4-6 weeks after that to refine it.
It’s dark. There is death, alleyways, frightful things observed from darkened windows.
Servants are scared. Strange potions and medical research. Murder, murder! Dun-dun-duuuuun.
Robert was fond of the whole good and evil/psychology of personalities thing, and he was also known to make visits to Edinburgh’s brothels, something that would have caused enormous shame for his religious family. So it makes sense he created a character that could split itself away from the respectable existence and indulge itself as much as it liked with the hookers he liked to spend the night with.
If I could split away part of my character, it would not be the bad side for the purposes of doing bad things. It’s my good side that enjoys bad things most. I would split away my patience. I would package up that woman who doesn’t feel her pulse rise at hearing phrases such as ‘Please can you help out at little Amy’s birthday party?’
Or, ‘Would you like to come to a soft play area and help keep an eye on the kids?’
My patient side would be mopping up spilled juice with a smile and not be at all alarmed at the strange clammy dampness of some of the balls in the ball pit. It would clap enthusiastically and appreciatively as children did unearthly things to violins at school concerts.
I’d also send the patient side out shopping with my mother. Patient me would happily carry the bags and wait calmly in endless antique and second hand shops where my mother likes to spend hours, and hours and hours. And at no point would the patient me feel like putting her head through an Art Deco mirror or beating herself about the head with a sturdy Bakelite telephone. For mine and my mother’s sake, someone should invent this potion for real.