Rare are the villains who can truly claim to be everywhere. Yet Mister Edward Hyde has managed just that, and why should he not? Savagery, it is often said, is a core part of who we are as people. Try as we might, we can never truly escape our baser instincts, and when you strip away the trappings of civilization, it is the animal that remains.
Torn from the psyche of the mild-mannered Doctor Jekyll via a chemical concoction that cannot be reproduced, Edward Hyde is that base savagery made manifest. Robbed of Jekyll’s positive traits, and given a moniker that denotes his nature as the part of himself that Jekyll tries to conceal, Hyde is the danger of unrestrained Id given face and form. Whether it is stomping a child into the pavement, or thrashing an old man to death in the street, Hyde’s crimes are unpremeditated, explosive, and ultimately, animalistic.
It is this notion of giving in to the beast that has left such an impression in popular culture, with Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Jekyll/Hyde transformation being referenced again and again. What are the Incredible Hulk, the Lizard, and Two-Face but modern takes on Hyde, with the necessary trappings of comic books thrown in for good measure? What are Three Days’ Grace’s “Animal I Have Become” and Skillet’s “Monster,” if not musical Jekylls, bemoaning their transformation?
Hyde, it would seem, is impossible to escape.
We see Hyde in reality too, camouflaged perhaps, but there nonetheless. He’s present in drug addicts who kill for a fix, in people who just snap one day, in all those who, through abuse or other means, have had their civilizing veneer taken from them. Hyde is the brutality humanity represses, come back to haunt us. He’s not only a part of Jekyll, but of the human race.
Cameron Winter is an aspiring author from Lindsay, Ontario. Having recently completed both an Honours BA in History at Trent University, and a certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College, he is currently working on a novel, and several pieces of short fiction. You can find him on Facebook.