Like FrankensteinDracula, and any number of other classical works, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has suffered from its portrayals in pop-culture.  The original work is, on the surface, merely a thrilling mystery about a good-natured scientist and his depraved counterpart.  However, the last few chapters reveal far more significant philosophical reflection.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are not synonymous, as their names have come to suggest, with good and evil: “With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence,” says Dr. Jekyll, “I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth… that man is not truly one, but truly two.”  Jekyll is a picture of every human – a composite, as Stevenson writes, of both decency and depravity.

As the mystery unravels, one thing becomes clear: that human self-interest is inescapable.  True hope, Stevenson shows us, will never be found in the human race.