The book Mary Reilly is the sequel to the famous The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a stark, ingeniously woven, engaging novel. That tells the disturbing tale of the dual personality of Dr. Jekyll, a physician. A generous and philanthropic man, his is preoccupied with the problems of good and evil and with the possibility of separating them into two distinct personalities. He develops a drug that transforms him into the demonic Mr. Hyde, in whose person he exhausts all the latent evil in his nature.
He also creates an antidote that will restore him into his respectable existence as Dr. Jekyll. Gradually, however, the unmitigated evil of his darker self predominates, until finally he performs an atrocious murder. His saner self determines to curtail those alternations of personality, but he discovers that he is losing control over his transformations, that he slips with increasing frequency into the world of evil. Finally, unable to procure one of the ingredients for the mixture of redemption, and on the verge of being discovered, he commits suicide. Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin, is a powerful and moving novel.
It takes the story Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, and gives a fresh take on the distinguished Dr. Henry Jekyll and the nefarious Mr. Edward Hyde. It is told through the psyche of a Victorian servant named Mary Reilly. The book’s structure purports to be Mary Reilly’s diary. The entries articulate Mary Reilly’s feelings and experiences while in service for Dr. Henry Jekyll, and how she often empathizes with Dr. Jekyll on his afflictions which she cannot comprehend. As the book progresses Mary Reilly continuously comments on her Masters every changing state of health.
Towards the end of the book her mother passes away leaving Mary in grief. Soon after this personal catastrophe, she encounters Mr. Hyde while looking around out side. In this confrontation Mary is bitten on the shoulder by Hyde and is near death when Hyde abruptly ceases his frenzy. Not long after this the body of Mr. Hyde is found dead in Jekyll’s laboratory. Naturally two books related to each other in this way have their similarities and differences in certain areas. Most of the similarities between both books fall in the areas of historical correctness and actual happenings to characters.
In terms of historical correctness, the abundance of historical detail is purely authentic. The only flaw, which I look at more as comic relief is the mention of Mary using an Omnibus to get across town. Due to the fact that Mary Reilly was so meticulously crafted, the events in the book were in compliance with Stevenson’s original. Despite the books’ many similarities, there is also a presence of differences, especially in the areas of writing style, the narrator’s point of view, and the significance of certain characters.
The writing style of Stevenson in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of extreme articulation, and elaborence, and is more difficult to interpret, one, because of the time he was writing in, and two, because it uses very complex words. The writing style of Valerie Martin in Mary Reilly is a complete contrast from Stevenson’s style. Martin’s writing, while articulate, is much easier to interpret. Martin does not use the kinds of difficult sentence structures and complex words that Stevenson used, furthermore, it is more subtle. Another major difference between Martin and Stevenson’s books is the point of view of the narrator.
In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story is told through two different views at different times. In the beginning the story is told through the eyes of someone looking down into the story. But as time progresses the character Mr. Enfield takes over, this narrative switch takes place throughout the book. However, in Mary Reilly the story is told through the eyes of Mary Reilly. Valerie Martin has done an astonishing job in keeping the events and people in her novel in sync with the events and people originally depicted by Stevenson. However, because Mary Reilly is focused on the character Mary Reilly instead of being focused on Dr.Jeckyl, like in Stevenson’s novel, some character’s have changed such as Dr. Jeckyl, Mr. Hyde, Poole, Cook, and of-course, Mary Reilly.
Meaning that when characters were described, what was said, how it was said, and what effect it had on the reader, is different. Dr. Jeckyl is a significant character in both Stevenson’s and Martin’s books. However, Dr. Jeckyl is represented differently in each book. In Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll comes across as a once kindly Doctor, wealthy and content with life, that abruptly turned cold, and became a scientific man engrossed in metaphysics, who obsesses over the principles of dual human nature.
Stevenson represented this view best from the following excerpt from the book, “But it is more than ten years since Henry Jekyll became too fanciful for me. He began to go wrong, wrong in mind; and although I continue to take an interest in him for old sake’s sake, as they say, I see and I have seen devilish little of the man. ” This excerpt said that Dr. Jekyll did indeed, have an unfortunate change of character, and that when this change was noticed, the ones closest to him greeted it with despondency. The excerpt was expressed by Dr. Lanyon when sadly looking back on the collapse of his as well as Mr. Enfield’s, relationship with Henry Jekyll.
When I came across this quote I felt as if I was reading about a lost soul. I realized what a tragedy it was for such a scholarly and cultured man to be wasted on a mere obsession, instead of using his talents to help humanity. Nonetheless in the book Mary Reilly Dr. Jekyll is represented as a once well known philanthropist and doctor, who secretly has an obsession with his scientific investigations, an obsession which progressively deteriorates his health, and eventually weakens him to the point of bedridden exhaustion.
Valerie Martin is not able to portray this view properly in a single excerpt from the book, rather she needs two excerpts in order in most excellently portray Jekyll. The first excerpt in the book is as follows, “It was a wonder to me that the master noticed my scars, as I was on my knees blackening the grate and black to my elbows, but he is an observant gentleman and perhaps he had noticed them some earlier time. He was sitting across the room from me in his leather reading chair, not even facing me but to one side and absorbed, so I imagined, in pursuing some scientific treatise.
This quite lengthy excerpt said many things about Jekyll, first, when Mary said that Master (Dr. Jekyll) might have noticed her scars at an earlier time, it suggests that he was a considerate man, in that he mentioned the scar while they were alone rather than causing Mary any embarrassment in front of others. Second, the excerpt as you can see states that he was a gentleman, this is significant because it means that he also was polite to his servants. As you know the excerpt is taken from the part when Mary Reilly is looking back on the time when Master notices her scar.
It seems to be stated with some confusion almost as if the situation puts Mary in a state of uncalled-for amazement. The excerpt was very effective in explaining elements of Jekyll’s persona. I found it interesting how such subtle thing could be interpreted as an explanation of one’s psyche. It left me with a basis of understanding that would allow me to, as the book progressed, further under stand Jekyll’s character. The second excerpt needed to best describe Jekyll’s character is, “That night Mr. Poole told us that Master had made himself ill from too much study and hardly touching his food, so for two days he did not leave his bed.
This except said that Jekyll was deeply involved in his work, so to the point of it coming before health in terms of priorities. This quote is stated in a way that suggests Jekyll’s deteriorating health has become the norm in the house, and surprisingly is not looked upon as life threatening. Because of how this quote was said, it leaves me to think that Jekyll’s downward spiral will be down hill from then on, making me feel badly for Mary rather than Jekyll because it seems as if Mary cares more about Master then the Master cares for himself.
In all three excerpts concerning Dr. Jekyll’s character, what was actually said was close to the same, the difference resting in the fact that Lanyon was a friend and Reilly was a servant. When Lanyon was describing Jekyll he was talking from the position of an equal individual, however when Reilly was describing she was talking from the position of a lesser individual. This was due to the fact that Mary’s mind had been molded into that of a servant, a mind that looked at the Master as a superior and themselves as an inferior. Ultimately, the largest difference between the two excerpts was the effect that each had on the reader.
Lanyon’s comments left me felling very sad, while Reilly’s left me feeling as if I was in an emotional limbo. Like Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde is a significant character in both books, this of course is due to the fact that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the same people. Yet, Mr. Hyde is represented diversely in each book. In Stevenson’s writing the malevolent Hyde is a seldom seen, mysterious man, who is often associated with evil, and who is charged of brutality on a little girl and the murder of Sir Danvers Carew.
Also, Hyde happens to have a number of puzzling connections to Dr. Henry Jekyll, specifically, next of kin position in Jekyll’s will, possible assistant to Jekyll, and an individual that is often seen in Jekyll’s house. This description of Hyde is represented exceptionally in the following excerpt, “Particularly small and particularly wicked. ” This excerpt said what kind of impression Hyde gave to other people about himself, the being small and wicked. The excerpt which was taken from the maid’s description of Hyde, was said with an underlying fear. I assume this is the fear people receive upon seeing Hyde.
The excerpt was a great concise way to describe Hyde’s character, this is because I believe that the feeling of fear the maid had is one that the reader can identify with, making its effect on the reader even greater. The character Hyde is represented more vividly in the book Mary Reilly, this is because you come face to face with Hyde’s rage and evil. In Mary Reilly Hyde is at first the mysterious new assistant to Jekyll who is not describe in any length. However, as the book progresses more and more is observed about Hyde, ultimately Hyde is represented as a brutal young man of indecisive origins and intentions.
The excerpt from the book that best describes Hyde is as follows, “He frowned and that dark look come into his eyes which is so dangerous, bored and impatient and full of hatred, and why he should hate me I cannot say. ” This excerpt said that Hyde’s true nature was solely evil and that it was mindless irrational evil. The excerpt was taken from the part when Mary is being attacked by Hyde, Mary’s comment is said as if she knew that Hyde’s evil was without reason, but she could not why anyone would be so deranged.
When I read this excerpt I was taken by how immense Hyde’s evil really was, and how senseless his rage was. Moreover, it made me wonder how evil an individual’s bad side could be. Both excerpts gave us a view of Hyde’s madness, and how he was perceived by people. However, the excerpt from Mary Reilly had a greater effect on me because it was so intense. In both books Mr. Poole played the part of Dr. Henry Jekyll’s devoted servant. However, the degree to which his character was described was different in each book.
In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Mr. Poole comes across as Dr. Jekyll’s long time servant, who is very much a part of Jekyll’s life, but is awkwardly unknowing to Jekyll’s personality alterations. Poole in terms of importance to the story does not have much, and despite the fact he appears nearly every other page, he is basically an insignificant character, although occasionally he will have a line of aggravation if his master is in a questionable position. Stevenson describes Poole’s character best in the excerpt, “Hold you tongue, said Poole with a ferocity of accent that testified to his own jangled nerves.
This excerpt said that while, most of the time he was calm, Poole could if need be speak out. Poole said the line with the intention to protect his master. This was the first time that I had seen Poole lash out like that, line effected my view of the story because it suggested unpredictability. Poole’s role and representation of character is very different in Mary Reilly. Poole’s character is now portrayed as the pompous butler. Valerie Martin best described this view of character by writing, “The next morning I was washing the front steps when Mr. Poole came out the door and spoke to me very coldly.
The Master has sent for you to come to the drawing room,” he said , and I knew he was displeased and suspicious, for Master never pays much attention to servants, and hardly knows their names, or so it seems, though that may be partly due to how determined Mr. Poole is to keep Master from any bother having to do with the house and what a free rein has over everything that goes on, including who is hired and let go. ” This long excerpt says that Poole monopolizes the master’s attention, and has influence over the whole house and every thing in it, except for Master.
Mary Reilly explained this sort-of servant dictatorship as if she accepted it, not because she had to, but because she was taught to. This excerpt made me feel badly for Mary Reilly because it showed that Mary was content with her life. This is upsetting to me because I think that Mary had potential to be a successful writer rather then a servant. Each excerpt said a totally different thing about the character Poole. Because of the difference of narrator in the descriptions how the excerpts were said is not relevant.
Lastly, the effect on the reader for each excerpt was very different in that one suggested a quite professional, and the other a pompous dictator. The character Mary Reilly is represented almost completely differently in each book. In Mary Reilly Valerie Martin elevates a bit player into a star. There is a maid in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that is more obscure than the sleaze ball courtiers in Hamlet, she is seen once represented by her only mention as, “Whimpering.
However as the eponymous heroine of Mary Reilly, she gets a name and a voice, but otherwise has little to do beyond empathizing with Master over an illness that she cannot comprehend. She is also a character dealing with the horror of having an alcoholic father as a child. Valerie Martin is able to best represent a connection between her father and the book in the following excerpt, “Please sir. Don’t do this. ” This excerpt is from when Hyde bites her on the neck, it is the same line that is seen in the begging of the book when Mary’s father puts her in a cabinet with a bag of rats.
The connection is between Hyde and Mary’s father. This line had a great effect on me because it showed me how such a tragic childhood can be present in the sub-conscience of the mind. The book Mary Reilly had many changes from its originator Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, some of the changes were for the good and some for the bad. In conclusion I believe that the majority of the changes in Mary Reilly were for the better, which leads me personally to believe that Mary Reilly is a more enjoyable book than Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. However, I still believe that Stevenson’s novel was and will always be a classic.