Skip Navigation
Falvey Memorial Library
Advanced
You are exploring: Home > Blogs

Flip or Flick: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Jekyll and hyde movie poster

Photo courtesy of IMDB

By Allie Reczek

When we think of Halloween stories and the terrifying characters associated with them, we tend to think of witches, zombies, vampires, or even the horrid Frankenstein’s monster. However, the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not like these frightening stories at all. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a Gothic novella published in 1886. The main character, Dr. Henry Jekyll, is known as a brilliant scientist, currently questioning the internal psyche of man. He is incredibly handsome and widely respected by all who know him.

During one of Jekyll’s experiments to understand the good and bad inside of us all, he develops a potion to transform humans into their evil counterparts. Taking it himself, Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde—gruesome to look at and dangerous to the core. He commits murder while in the body of Hyde, but eventually transforms back to the good Jekyll after consuming another potion. After repeated voluntary transformations, Jekyll becomes unable to control when he becomes Hyde, even without taking his experimental concoction. Knowing that soon he will be Hyde forever and people will be after him for his crimes, Jekyll decides that there is nothing else he can do but take his own life. 

There are several movies based off of this novella, however the 1931 version directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March is widely considered to be the best adaptation. Despite its 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie takes a different approach to this story. Many of the supporting characters in the movie are not included in the novella and vice versa. In the movie, Jekyll is about to marry his fiancée, Muriel Carew, but after unsuccessful attempts to stay as Jekyll, he decides that he has to let her go. When he is Hyde, he murders dance hall girl, Ivy Pearson, after she rejects him and fears his horrifying appearance. Unlike in the novella, instead of Jekyll ending his own life and leaving a suicide note, he is shot and killed while he is Hyde. Although this was a movie made in the 30s, I was surprised at how realistic the transformation from Jekyll to Hyde appeared. Even without the movie magic of 21st century films, this adaptation did a great job at maintaining an engaging storyline that I am sure terrified audiences when first released. 

So… Flip or Flick? 

Flip! While the movie should not be overlooked, I think the book did a better job at explaining this horror story. This novella explores the idea of good and evil, allowing readers to question if we can ever overpower the evil inside us all or if it is only a matter of time before it takes over. Through its classic 19th century European stylistic writing and thought-provoking ending, this book is a perfect fit for anyone looking for a psychological thriller this Halloween season. This story reminds us that it is not witches, zombies, or vampires that are scary, but rather it is what is inside of us that is truly the scariest thing of all. 

 


Allie Reczek headshot

 

Allie Reczek ’22 CLAS is a current senior at Villanova, majoring in Psychology with minors in Communications and Sociology. She works in Falvey Library as a Marketing and Communications Assistant.


 

 


Like
1 People Like This Post

Flip or Flick: A Clockwork Orange (CW)

original book cover of "A Clockwork Orange"


***Content Warning: Please be advised that this post discusses aspects of A Clockwork Orange, a book and feature film that contain strong elements of sexual assault, torture, and other forms of violence.***


By Allie Reczek

Hello all readers! It is I, Your humble narrator, back with another Flip or Flick, and today I am discussing A Clockwork Orange. Written by Anthony Burgess in 1962, this book is famous for its ingenious and masterful use of language. Spoken in a confusing, mind-twisting slang invented by the main character, Alex, this novel challenges the concept of horrorshow (good) and evil.

In this dystopian universe, a 15 year old boy with a dark and devious mind and a passion for classical music, along with his droogs (friends), wreak havoc on their neighborhood, robbing and assaulting innocent people. After one fatal night and an attack gone wrong, Alex ends up in staja (state jail), staring down a 14 year sentence. A new inmate reformation treatment allows Alex to return to society earlier than expected, however it is not without its dire consequences on his mental stability and outlook on life. Burgess so cleverly makes readers root for the villain and empathize with him, despite knowing full well the destruction and terror Alex causes. This novel challenges the idea of what it means to be “healed” and leaves readers questioning, “What is the cost of salvation?”

The title itself, A Clockwork Orange, does not make much sense at first. However, if one is to look up the translations of Alex’s invented vocabulary, a ‘Clockwork Orange’ is a “mechanically-responsive person”. Through his treatment in prison, Alex becomes a clockwork orange, arguably becoming worse off than he was before. Despite knowing that Alex is a horrid person and a danger to society, one cannot help but feel remorse for him when he is “cured”.

The movie version of A Clockwork Orange, released in 1971, and directed by Stanley Kubrick, brings Anthony Burgess’ masterpiece to life. Viewers can truly witness the dystopian lifestyle of the characters and just how frightening and zammechat (remarkable) this story is. In regard to using the movie as an aid in the overall understanding of the plot, I would say it does a great job in staying true to the storyline of the novel. Because the book can be hard to follow at times, the movie allows for a visual element to enhance and clarify what exactly was happening, despite how graphic it may be. However, from an enjoyment perspective, I enjoyed the novel more. I believe there is a sense of bliss to ignorance and there are certain scenes from this movie that I would rather have left unclear. Just from the first 10 minutes of the movie, I was horrified and quite frightened at what I was witnessing. Despite my opinion, I think cinephiles would better understand and appreciate the context in which the brutality and overwhelming nature of this film is presented.

So, Flip or Flick?

Flip! If you are sensitive to explicit content and prefer to leave some images to the imagination.

Flick! If you want to add a visual component to further enhance the message behind this story. However, it is important you are able to separate the gore from the overall takeaway of A Clockwork Orange and not be bothered by some disturbing content.

Falvey Library owns a DVD copy of A Clockwork Orange as well as several copies and interpretations of the book.  View the full list here.


Allie Reczek headshot

 

Allie Reczek ’22 CLAS is a current senior at Villanova, majoring in Psychology with minors in Communications and Sociology. She works in Falvey Library as a Marketing and Communications Assistant.

 


 


Like

 


Last Modified: October 6, 2021