Friday, November 13, 2009

Fan Fiction -- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This post is a reworking of the final section of Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, "Henry Jekyll's Full Statement of the Case". I was wondering what would have become of the story if Jekyll had more fully embraced his inner Hyde and decided to flee rather than poisoning himself. I thought it might also be fun to try to write in the stuffy, drawn-out style of Victorian literature. Admittedly, I have found that I am not quite up to this task and beg your forgiveness for this ambling writing.


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May this letter not be read as confession or apologia. Let these words, the last I shall write under the guise of Henry Jekyll, not be taken as an expression of remorse or regret, not the last desperate ramblings of a man who once did something finer and better with his life. No... it is quite the opposite. These words are written by one who has at long last found his way back to the true path and to a long forgotten self -- recently rediscovered -- a self I now long to never let go. This letter is an exaltation, a call to my fellow man to let go of themselves. And above all this is a call to you, dear reader, to return to your primal nature and cast off the cold coil of this artificial world where we toil and labour for the benefits of a rich few and deny our passions and desires. May these words be a call to liberation, and may you read them well.

I was born into a respected and prosperous family -- my father a gentlemen, by most accounts, and my mother a pious and devout woman. I was raised to uphold the good name of the family, to be a pillar of society and to contribute more than I took away. I attended the best schools. I went to church every Sunday and played nice with the other children. However from that very young age I was aware of a creeping suspicion in the marrow of my bones that the world of supposed goodness and truth I had been indoctrinated into was but a facade, and that there was a real world behind a curtain which waited to be thrown back. As I grew, this suspicion grew with me, until in my early twenties I decided upon a path of transcendence and actualization.

I enrolled in a medical academy, more to satisfy the demands and expectations of my family than from a genuine call to the vocation. My secret ambition I kept locked away, and at night after I had studied anatomy and dissected my specimens I took out the books for which I had a burning interest -- those of the occult and of alchemy. I wished to derive the quicksilver of the soul, the gold to be found at the bottom of my leaden heart, and to turn the shadows so long constrained loose, as starlings first fly from the nest of winter in the eaves. Verily I tried and again and again failed, for it seemed that whilst I could combine chemical elements to make laudanum and arsenic and lye, there was no formula to be found for the liberation of the secret cravings and desires locked away inside, and those starlings were surely meant to starve.

Finally, disconsolate, I decided to call an end to my quest, and chose to settle down to a life of toil and misery as a practitioner of medicine -- though I was always sceptical about why medicine should be called a practice, knowing I would never wish for a doctor, at least not those I had studied with, to "practice" on me. And so it came about that I concealed my pleasures, and when I came to a point of life that called on me for reflection I began to take stock of my place in the world, and discovered that I had committed myself, unwittingly, to a double life. For I could never actualize my pledge to leave behind the quest for my secret passions, and each time I resolved to rid myself of these carnal cravings I found that they came back with renewed strength and vigour, until after long years of torment I realized that I must follow my will down the dark corridors of inequity and be true, in the first, to myself.

Having so resolved, I renewed my pursuit for the elixir that would allow me to forever transcend my inhibitions and doubts. I came to see that it was the world, the society and culture I lived in, that was the stifling influence on my quest for a functional, primeval self. The decision, upon this revelation, was made for me -- I must cut myself off from the rest of the world if any semblance of sanity was ever to be found amongst the vacant thoughts and spectre filled delusions of my consciousness. I sealed my door and my practice from the prying eyes of the citizens of this greatest of all cities of the walking dead, and I began to experiment with certain substances that I had procured from an ancient apothecary via post. And as no suitable lab conditions would allow me to experiment on rats, and certainly I did not wish to experiment on other humans lest they should be the first to experience the bounty of my toils, I took the potions myself.

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This one is still a work in progress. It seems to have ballooned out of control. I'll be back to add the second half.

6 comments:

KaliDurga said...

Ah, one of my favorites. Awaiting the second half with much anticipation...

Harlequin said...

this is marvelous---- I especially like how you use the starlings and the sardonic take on class, generally, and the medical industry in particular.
I am also taken with the writing style you have immersed yourself in here... it has a lyrical appeal and transparency that more contemporary prose might obscure.
I look forward to the next installment!

Shubhajit said...

through my insignificant experiences i feel that there is nothing in this world bad. everything has an equal importance. Bad and good are our minds.

People like you, will always exist in this sphere to balance the bad minds. why we need sanity? insane people are more happier. It is a passion for actualization and thirst for self realization that make us sane otherwise everything is impermanent. Isn't it?

The language style is great and very enjoyable. I am sure i will come back once more to enrich myself.

Ganga Fondan said...

"Like a splinter in your mind"(Matrix)...amazing idea to develop this. Like to see where this heads. A bit autobiogrphical???? :)
Have a great week-end.

the walking man said...

If man had only a dual nature...

Jon said...

Hi Friends,

Thanks to you all for your encouraging comments on this riff of Stevenson. I'm still working on the second half... but I'm being slowed down by all the other less important things I try to get done in the day!

;)


KaliDurga
I'll try to make your wait as short as possible... thanks for stopping by as always.

Harle,
Yeah, there's definitely a little dig at classism and the med industry in here... veiled vitriolic swipe or something like that!

Shubhajit,
I think that some of the points you bring up are exactly what Jekyll and Hyde is trying to get at... the divided self and the quest for actualization and, in a ironic way, peace of mind! Who would have thought that this could be found by embracing what some would call evil, eh?

Ganga,
I won't tell a lie... there is for sure a bit of autobiography in here. But then maybe I am telling a lie, if it's the splintered part of my mind that's doing the talking. ;)

Walking man,
If not only dual then triplicate? Quadruple? Maybe the question Alice should ask is not how deep the rabbit hole goes, but how many rabbits you'll find in there???