Jekyll and Hyde starting tonight

Now is the winter of my discontent (yes, I know I am misquoting terribly) in part due to the saturation of sports showing on my television screen. However, I am looking forward to watching ITV’s Jekyll and Hyde tonight at 6.30pm. The action is being moved from the late Victorian period to the 1930s and we are following the (mis)adventures of the titular hero’s grandson.

From the short clip I have watched, they are keeping the animalistic overtones in the transformation, albeit in a more muted version, by highlighting the violence, increased strength, expressions of lust, and deep-throated growling of Hyde. Though it looks like they won’t be keeping to the original and having Mr Hyde a smaller, simian version of Dr. Jekyll, I think we might see the archetype that Stephen King talks about in Danse Macabre (1981). King suggests that along with the vampire and the ‘thing’, the werewolf is an archetype of horror texts: an archetype which is defined by the tension between the Apollonian man and the Dionysian man. His analysis of Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) puts forth the argument that the protagonist’s split personality and degenerate transformation presents him as an archetypal werewolf.

Though I am not a fan of the Jungian overtones of the term ‘archetype’, there are certain aspects in the story of Jekyll and Hyde which tie in with my analysis of werewolves in literature. These are centred on the idea of separating man from the animal, the fear of degeneration, and the tendency to represent the cruelty of humanity in animal form (in my work most noticeably the wolf). So I will be watching this series closely to see what it has to tell us about how humans shape, control and destroy the beast within.

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