Andrew Lang was a writer and critic and a close friend of Robert Louis Stevenson.
This is Lang’s review of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which was written in 1886, the year the novel was first published. Lang discusses the absence of women (though Hyde’s victims include a girl and a prostitute); the moral allegory underpinning the novel – which Stevenson decided to develop when he rewrote the text after burning the first draft; the fact that the novel is primarily concerned with the views and reactions of professional men; and the various aspects of duality that exist in the novel.
Of particular interest is Lang’s observation that Stevenson’s characters are middle-aged professional men of various characters – fashionable, sober, diligent, and in Hyde’s case a model of leisurely dissipation. However degenerate and criminal Hyde is, he is also equipped with good taste and the means to indulge it; he is even, according to Stevenson, an art-collector.
Exploring the idea of duality, Lang describes ‘the double personality in every man’, noting that this duality device had been used widely by Edgar Allan Poe. Duality is proposed as the moral of the tale – indeed he states that the moral is the tale, and that they are as inseparable as Jekyll and Hyde.