Analysis of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Summary The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde follows the story of Dr. Jekyll, a London doctor who experiments with potions to separate good and evil in human nature. However, his experiments become uncontrollable, and he transforms into his evil alter ego, Mr. Hyde, engaging in crimes and violence. The movie also showcases the duality of human nature and the consequences of man's obsession with power and knowledge. Dr. Lanyon tries to help, but is attacked by Hyde, who demands vials from Jekyll's lab. Eventually, Jekyll confesses to his murders, breaks up with Beatrix, and ultimately dies, while Hyde continues to wreak havoc before being caught.


Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The story follows the general outline of the original Jekyll and Hyde tale but lacks depth and originality. The pacing is inconsistent with too much time spent on mundane events, and the character arcs are underdeveloped. The dialogue is often stilted and lacks nuance, which makes the characters feel one-dimensional. The story relies too heavily on shock value rather than building suspense and intrigue.
Suggestions: To improve the screenplay, the writer should focus on developing the characters' motivations and relationships. They should strive to create a more compelling and original plot by exploring the themes of duality and power dynamics. The pacing should be more consistent, and the dialogue should be rewritten to give the characters more distinct voices and personalities. The story could benefit from more nuanced and subtle storytelling rather than relying on graphic violence and sexual exploitation. Overall, the writer should approach the material with a fresh perspective, focusing on what makes the story timeless rather than merely reproducing the original plot.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Jekyll

Dr. Jekyll is a brilliant and passionate scientist who is driven by his research and willing to take risks to prove his theories. He is kindhearted and compassionate, but also conflicted by emotional turmoil and distracted by outside events. He struggles with guilt and despair as he cannot control the consequences of his split personality, which often leads to reckless behavior, putting himself and those around him in danger.



Mr. Hyde

Mr. Hyde is a dark, seductive, and manipulative character who revels in causing chaos and violence. He is highly aggressive and violent, with a complete disregard for human life. He is obsessed with finding Jekyll and will stop at nothing to do so. Hyde's thirst for power and violence threatens to consume both him and Jekyll. He is Jekyll's darker alter-ego who grows increasingly bold and reckless as the story progresses.



Poole

Poole is a caring and practical butler who is deeply loyal to Dr. Jekyll. He is often exasperated by Jekyll's forgetfulness, but remains steadfast in his duties. Poole is concerned about his master's well-being and tries his best to understand and help him in his struggles.



Beatrix

Beatrix is a passionate and loving woman with a strong-willed personality. She is emotional, vulnerable, and defensive about her relationships, but also caring and understanding to the people she loves. Her presence is an important driving force to Jekyll, and her potential loss weighs heavily in his decisions and experiments. Beatrix's love for Jekyll is torn between her father's wishes and her own desires, but ultimately she is willing to go against her father for the sake of their love. She tries her best to support and comfort Jekyll, but ultimately cannot handle the revelations of his monstrous actions.



Sir Charles

Sir Charles is a middle-aged man who is nostalgic and emotional for his deceased wife. He is conservative and disapproves of Dr. Jekyll's research and wishes for him to focus on his medical career instead. He is also an overbearing father who tries to control Beatrix's actions and disapproves of her relationship with Jekyll.



Ivy Pearson

Ivy Pearson is a young woman working as a performer at the Palace of Varieties. She is initially cautious of Mr. Hyde's attention but becomes intrigued by his passion and wealth. Ivy is vulnerable to manipulation and degradation, but she also has a sense of curiosity and a desire for a better life.



Ivy

Ivy is a young woman in an abusive relationship with Mr. Hyde, struggling to find a way out. She is hesitant to trust others, still clinging to her loyalty to Hyde despite his mistreatment of her. Ivy is understandably traumatized, fearful, and emotionally fragile, but also deeply human, capable of love and courage in the face of danger. She is ultimately a tragic figure, caught in the middle of Jekyll and Hyde's conflict and unable to escape the violence that surrounds her.



Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Jekyll Dr. Jekyll's character arc involves his obsession with his split personality and his struggle to control it. As he becomes more fascinated with the idea of evil, his moral compass shifts, leading to reckless experimentation and increasingly dangerous behavior. His inner turmoil drives him to isolation and self-destruction, until he ultimately embraces his darker side and becomes fully consumed by it. However, his love for Beatrix ultimately serves as his redemption, leading him to realize the importance of human connection and the consequences of his actions. He ultimately sacrifices himself to save Beatrix and repent for his mistakes. The character arc is well-developed and effectively showcases the gradual descent of Dr. Jekyll into madness. However, the secondary characters could be more fleshed out, as they mostly serve as obstacles for Jekyll's experimentation rather than fully realized characters with their own motivations. Additionally, Dr. Jekyll's love for Beatrix could be more integrated into the story to make his ultimate sacrifice more emotionally resonant.
To improve the character arc, the secondary characters could be given more depth and their own motivations, which would make their opposition to Jekyll's experiments more complex. Additionally, the love story between Jekyll and Beatrix could be developed more throughout the story to make their final sacrifice more emotionally impactful. Finally, there could be more exploration of the moral implications of Jekyll's experimentation and the consequences of trying to play God, which would add more depth to the story and make Jekyll's ultimate sacrifice more meaningful.
Mr. Hyde Mr. Hyde's character arc starts with him being emboldened after experiencing heartbreak as Dr. Jekyll. He exhibits aggression and enjoys his newfound liberty. As the story progresses, Hyde grows more violent, impulsive, and desperate. He is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his secret safe and find Jekyll, consuming him and Jekyll with his thirst for power and violence. By the end of the movie, Hyde becomes a danger to not just himself and Jekyll, but to society as a whole. He ultimately meets his demise as a consequence of his actions. The character arc lacks depth and nuance. It is mainly focused on Hyde's growing violence and desperation, with little exploration of his inner conflicts and motivations. The arc also doesn't provide much resolution or character development for Jekyll, leaving his fate and growth unclear.
To improve the character arc, it would be helpful to explore Hyde's inner conflicts and motivations more deeply. This could be done through flashbacks or dialogues, where Hyde reflects on his past and reasons for becoming so violent and desperate. The arc could also benefit from more focus on Jekyll's growth and resolution, by giving him moments of agency and decision-making that affect his fate and the fate of Hyde.
Poole Throughout the movie, Poole goes from being a loyal but somewhat bumbling assistant to a trusted ally who helps Dr. Jekyll confront his inner demons. Initially, Poole is largely passive, providing important information to Jekyll but not taking any proactive steps to help. As Jekyll's condition worsens and Hyde begins to take over, Poole becomes increasingly concerned. He takes a strong stance against allowing Hyde to enter the lab, showing his loyalty to Jekyll even in the face of danger. As Jekyll begins to unravel, Poole becomes more assertive, seeking out information and taking a more active role in trying to understand and help his master. By the end of the movie, Poole has become a trusted ally, helping Jekyll confront his inner demons and ultimately sacrificing himself to save his master from Hyde's wrath. The character arc for Poole is well-developed and consistent throughout the movie. However, it could benefit from more depth and complexity. Poole's loyalty to Jekyll is admirable, but it would be interesting to see more of his backstory and motivations. Additionally, the arc could be more nuanced by exploring the tension between Poole's loyalty to Jekyll and his growing concern for his well-being.
To improve the character arc, consider developing Poole's backstory and motivations. Why is he so loyal to Jekyll? What drives him to care for his master so deeply? Additionally, consider exploring the tension between Poole's loyalty and his growing concern for Jekyll's well-being. As Jekyll's condition worsens, what internal conflicts does Poole struggle with? Finally, consider adding a moment of redemption for Poole. While his sacrifice at the end of the movie is admirable, it would be interesting to see him confront his own shortcomings and grow as a character throughout the story.
Beatrix Beatrix's character arc in the screenplay revolves around her love for Jekyll and her willingness to navigate through difficult situations for the sake of their relationship. At first, she is hesitant and fearful of the consequences of their love and torn between her father's wishes and her own desires. However, as the story progresses, Beatrix becomes stronger and more assertive in her love for Jekyll. She challenges his decisions, questions his motives and tries to understand the burden of his guilt and despair. But ultimately, Beatrix faces a difficult choice when Jekyll's true identity is revealed, and she cannot reconcile the monstrous actions of Hyde with the man she loves. Her character arc ends with her trying to comfort Jekyll but ultimately failing to understand the full extent of his inner turmoil and darkness. The character arc for Beatrix is excellent, as it is realistic and believable that her love for Jekyll would be tested and strained when confronted with the reality of his monstrous inner self. However, her character could have been fleshed out a bit more to give more depth to her relationship with Jekyll and to make her character more memorable.
One suggestion to improve Beatrix's character arc would be to give more context to her relationship with Jekyll before the events of the story. Also, her conflicting desires between her father's wishes and her own desires could have been explored more deeply to give more insight into her character. Additionally, her character could have been given more agency and action rather than just reacting to Jekyll's decisions and actions. Overall, Beatrix's character arc is strong, but could have been improved with more fleshing out of her character and relationship with Jekyll.
Sir Charles Throughout the film, Sir Charles undergoes a character arc from a conservative, controlling man to a more accepting and supportive father. He starts out disapproving of Jekyll's experiments and his daughter's relationship with him. However, as Jekyll continues his experiments, Sir Charles becomes increasingly concerned with his absence and worries about Beatrix's relationship with Harry. This prompts him to eventually give in to Beatrix's wishes to marry Jekyll. By the end of the film, Sir Charles has realized the importance of Jekyll's work and becomes a supporter of his research. The character arc of Sir Charles feels somewhat predictable and lacks any major surprises. Additionally, his initial beliefs and concerns are never fully explored in depth, leaving the audience with a relatively surface-level understanding of his character.
To improve the character arc, the filmmakers could explore Sir Charles's motivations more thoroughly, perhaps by showing more of his backstory and the events that led to his conservative beliefs. Additionally, adding some unexpected twists or turns to his character arc could make it more interesting and engaging for the audience.
Ivy Pearson Throughout the film, Ivy's character arc is one of increasing vulnerability to Mr. Hyde's manipulation. She begins as a minor character who is initially off-limits to serve Hyde champagne, leading to a confrontation with the manager. At first, Ivy responds to Hyde's attention with caution, but she eventually allows him to convince her to stay and share a glass of champagne with him. As she becomes more intrigued by his passion and wealth, she begins to see a potential future with him. However, Ivy ultimately becomes degraded and manipulated by Hyde, reaching a point of terror and vulnerability. The character arc for Ivy Pearson is well-developed and highlights the dangers of being vulnerable to manipulation. However, her character is portrayed primarily in relation to Mr. Hyde, and her motivations and desires beyond her interactions with him are not well-explored.
To improve Ivy's character arc, it could be helpful to explore her background and motivations more fully. This could include establishing her desires and goals beyond simply escaping her current situation. Additionally, her relationships with other characters could be deepened, allowing her to have a more independent storyline and agency.
Ivy Over the course of the movie, Ivy undergoes a gradual arc from victim to survivor. Initially beaten down and controlled by Hyde, Ivy begins to see the extent of his cruelty and fear for her life. She becomes desperate for help and eventually turns to Jekyll, only to encounter disbelief and skepticism. Despite this setback, Ivy remains determined to protect herself and find a way to escape her situation. She becomes more assertive and self-reliant, ultimately taking matters into her own hands and confronting Hyde. Though tragically killed in the process, Ivy's bravery and resilience inspire Jekyll to take action against Hyde and ultimately lead to his downfall. While Ivy is a compelling and sympathetic character, her arc could be more fully developed to make her journey more impactful. Her transformation from victim to survivor could be more clearly defined and her actions could be given more agency and significance in the resolution of the story. Additionally, her relationship with Jekyll could be further explored and developed to emphasize the moral conflict between them and highlight the consequences of their actions.
To improve Ivy's character arc, consider giving her more moments of agency and empowerment throughout the story. Show her taking active steps to protect herself and make decisions that affect the plot. Additionally, explore her relationship with Jekyll in more depth, examining the moral implications of their interactions and the effects of their decisions on each other and the people around them. By emphasizing these elements, Ivy's arc can become a more fully realized and emotionally resonant aspect of the screenplay.
Theme Theme Details Themee Explanation
EthicsDr. Jekyll stands up for his ethical beliefs when confronted by colleagues in a hospital and defends his research on the soul to his colleagues at a dinner party.This theme is about Dr. Jekyll's unwavering dedication to his research and the struggles he faces while trying to maintain his ethical standards.
Dual IdentityDr. Jekyll transforms into Mr. Hyde and has an affair with Ivy Pearson. He later transforms back into Jekyll and confesses to Dr. Lanyon about his transformations and the murder he committed.This theme explores the duality of Dr. Jekyll's personality and the conflict he faces between his good and evil sides.
Love and RelationshipsDr. Jekyll's relationship with Beatrix is threatened by her disapproving father. Hyde seeks out Ivy Pearson and has an affair with her before she is choked to death. Jekyll tells Beatrix he's not worth her love and decides to leave her, but his transformation starts to happen again.This theme explores the various relationships and emotions that the characters experience throughout the screenplay and the consequences that come with them.
Power and ControlAfter becoming Mr. Hyde, Jekyll revels in his newfound power. His relationship with Ivy Pearson turns manipulative and cruel. Hyde later wrecks everything in his lab while being pursued by the police.This theme is about the corrupting influence of power and the desire for control that the characters exhibit.
Death and EscapismHyde's transformation back into Jekyll's form seemingly indicates that death is the only way to escape his alter ego.This theme explores the idea of death and its relation to escapism. It suggests that death can be seen as an escape from one's problems and inner turmoil.



Screenwriting Resources on Themes

Articles

Site Description
Studio Binder Movie Themes: Examples of Common Themes for Screenwriters
Coverfly Improving your Screenplay's theme
John August Writing from Theme

YouTube Videos

Title Description
Story, Plot, Genre, Theme - Screenwriting Basics Screenwriting basics - beginner video
What is theme Discussion on ways to layer theme into a screenplay.
Thematic Mistakes You're Making in Your Script Common Theme mistakes and Philosophical Conflicts