In each of us, two
natures are at war—the good and the evil. All our lives the fight
goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our hands
lies the power to choose—what we want most to be we are.
-Dr. Henry Jekyll
It began one morning four years ago, the morning I learned my father's illness had finally conquered him. But it had not killed him, oh no. Fate deprived my father of the sweet release of death. Instead it sent him into a coma, creating a living husk of a man that once was the wisest and most kind father, friend, and mentor in his little part of the world. The injustice of it all sent me into a rage that lasted many weeks, until a friend told me I must redirect my anger rather than tear myself apart with it. He told me I should use it to help my father and all like him. I took this to heart and I studied and researched. For five excruciatingly long years I theorized, experimented, and discarded every promising solution. And then, finally, almost by accident, I hit on something, something good.
I remember that moment so clearly I can still smell the foul smell of the formaldehyde that lingered always in the dissecting rooms in which I was working. I used this memory two years later as a name for the culmination of all my hard work. Hyde. It was a strangely appropriate name, though I had no inkling of the horror it would become synonymous with. But I get ahead of myself.
The grand solution I hit upon that day, in that moment, with the smell of formaldehyde in my nostrils and the pain that came from sitting on a hard wood stool for hours always at the back of my consciousness, was the Dual Nature Theory. I decided that every man is made of two opposing dispositions, one with a propensity towards goodness, the other towards evil. This may seem painfully obvious to you, you may even wonder why it took me so many years of hard work to hit upon this simple fact, but indeed, this little, seemingly inoffensive theory cost me many years of heartache and disappointment. First I was forced to battle with the unresponsive conventionalists that made up the board of governors at the hospital that held the keys to my research, and later I battled a much deadlier foe, the ghost of my own foolish actions.
The two years that followed were the most productive two years of my life. In that short time I went from formulating a vague theory concerning the nature of the human psyche, to actually producing a draught that would separate the two errant sides of human nature from each other, allowing each to go their own way without affecting the other. This was the culmination of my great crusade against my father's mysterious illness: a drug I hoped would eliminate all mental illness, which is caused by an imbalance between the two warring sides of a person. By separating these two sides, I thought, we could create a world where every man knew exactly what he wanted in life, a world where difficult decisions between right and wrong, good and evil, would be obsolete. I believed this drug was the solution to all the worlds problems.
It was with proud thoughts of glory and victory that I took that draught for the first time, monitoring the changes it caused in me carefully in my log, certain that I was right, that I had finally succeeded. But I forgot to account for all the variables, and the experiment went horribly wrong. Instead of creating two separate men from my one being, the drug brought forth a second personality, Edward Hyde.
Hyde is a manifestation of the evil side of my soul. Even his physical appearance seems the opposite of mine, for he is small, hairy, and dirty, more ape than man. I have heard people say that he gives the impression of deformity, and it is a very apt description. Hyde is the only being in this world whose nature is purely evil, and although he is not physically deformed in any way, the other more upright and normal people living around him sense the twisted deformity of his spirit.
At first I rejoiced in the unexpected outcome of the experiment. Hyde's form allowed me to experience the meaner side to life I had always secretly yearned for without jeopardizing my reputation as an upstanding citizen. Now that I think about it, it is not surprising that I had this reaction, for as much as I should wish to deny it, Hyde's impulses are based in the darkest desires of my soul.
As the time sped by, I found myself craving the freedom of Hyde's form more and more, to the point where he ventured out nearly every night. I began to notice some changes in the way I transformed, a certain ease to the transformation process which at first had been so painful it would leave me weak and shaky. It grew noticeably easier to transform into Hyde, and noticeably more difficult to take on my own countenance again. I ignored these warning signs however, my first big mistake. I did not begin to suspect there was a problem until I was forced to confront the terrible reality of my own lack of control.
One morning I woke up feeling oddly like I didn't belong where I was. The bed curtains looked strange to me, and I felt myself in the power of some indefinable urge. I sat up in bed and endeavored to clear my head of the strange feeling. It was then I looked down at my hands. They were not the slender, long-fingered surgeon's hands I had expected to see, but rather thick, corded, dark-skinned hands topped with a revolting growth of curly black hair. They were Hyde's hands. I vaulted out of bed and over to the mirror, and sure enough it was Hyde's visage that greeted me. I was filled with a blind panic for my own well-being, and it was this selfishness that chilled me most when I reflected on the incident later. I was struck with a wave of self-pity and irrational fear that I would be discovered and destroyed. Finally I came to myself, dressed in Jekyll's ill-fitting clothing and ventured out of my room and down the corridor to my study. That short distance seemed the longest walk of my life. It took a triple dose of the draught to restore Jekyll's body, and the transformation pangs were the worst I had yet experienced.
After this horrifying incident, I came to my senses and for a brief period I did not touch the drug. I broke my addiction to it and caged Hyde deep within myself, keeping him there more for fear of what he would do were he ever to surface again than because of any real concern for my well-being or, I am ashamed to say, the well-being of my fellow men. Those few months were a grace period in which I renewed old friendships that had fallen by the wayside while I was in the iron clutches of the drug. I returned with a renewed will to my old life, work, and passions. I did more good deeds in that time than I think I have ever done in the whole rest of my miserable life, and yet it does nothing to comfort my conscience now. Those good deeds, important though they were, will never be adequate enough to offset my guilt.
At last, though, the terrible desire for the drug and for what I thought was freedom won and again I turned to that loathsome potion. Hyde was a different man after his long captivity. He had lost his playful nature, now he had a passionate hatred for all mankind, especially myself, and he was infinitely more violent, rude, and dangerous than ever before. The fury of his passion ensnared me, and though I grew to hate him as much as he hated me, I could not stop using the drug. The more I struggled, the more I lost control. I did not want to admit it to myself at the time, but I know now that the case became hopeless the moment I tasted that despicable draught after my brief period of grace.
Ever since that time, my life has been slowly unraveling. I will not accept the actions of Hyde during that time as a product of my own deep desires. Rather I believe that when Hyde finally gained control of the odd entity that was, and is, our double existence that he took control of his own desires as well. Perhaps I am naively disregarding the truth. If this is so, I will take this falsehood with me to the grave, for I cannot and will not take responsibility for his actions.
This leads me, as an account of the experiment must, to the deaths of Dr. Lanyon and Sir Danvers Carew. I have not the time, nor the strength to discuss the circumstances of their deaths here, nor have I any need to. Full, and more accurate, accounts of their deaths can be found in any of the newspapers, for a report was carried in every single one. I forced myself to read them all, and I know they are truthful save in one respect. Lanyon claimed that extreme shock had caused his death, he was speaking truth. I transformed from Hyde to Jekyll in front of his very eyes, and the shock and horror of it killed him. I killed him.
These terrible deaths served as the final blow to my spirit and my control. From the moment Sir Danvers hit the pavement, his battered and bloody form almost unrecognizable as human; I lost all control I had over Hyde. I could no longer take command of my own emotions, and Hyde influenced me even when he had been caged safely inside. He could surface at will, whenever he wanted and it would take me double and triple doses of the draught to quell him. I descended rapidly into a deep pit, from which I quickly came to realize I would never return. The horror-stricken faces of Lanyon and Sir Danvers haunted my nightmares and I lived in despicable self pity and loathing all at once.
Finally, now, I have been given another period of grace, though this time it has been forced upon me. I am rapidly running out of the draught, and my efforts to procure more of the salts that made the drug potent have all been in vain. I have come to believe that there was some impurity in the sample I was given, and this impurity caused the reaction I experienced. I have not been able to find a sample with the same impurity, and so Henry Jekyll's time draws rapidly to an end. In these, my last days of living this miserable existence I have created for myself, I have gained a new perspective on the experiment and its effects on my life, a perspective I have endeavored to record here for posterity in the hopes that it will guide others to the right course.
My final hours draw to a close. I have taken the last of the drug and it is only a matter of time before I surrender my existence to another. I fervently hope that he will find the strength to kill himself, to perform one courageous, good deed to redeem his entire despicable existence. But perhaps this is a false desire brought on by the effects of the drug in my system. I slowly lose the power to express my own thoughts and emotions. It is somewhat ironic that the last hours of my life as Henry Jekyll should be spent in contemplation over the horrific existence I have led. When I first embarked on the experiment I expected to die in glory, surrounded by friends and admirers after living a long, full, and good life.
Already I feel the effects of the drug wearing off. The first pangs of transformation assail me, warning me to put down the pen lest the work of my last hours should be discovered and torn to pieces by another whose rage is uncontrollable and whose evil is incalculable. Perhaps by some miracle of the god who has long forsaken me, this pitiful piece of paper will survive his wrath and live to tell its own story to those who deserve to hear it.
My life has run out. I can no longer write for the shaking of my hands. The bottle of poison I bought in a last desperate attempt to halt this process leers at me, daring me to take my end into my own hands. I have nothing to lose by it, and yet something stops my hand. The control of Hyde perhaps or some deep undisturbed notion of my own that such an action would be folly, even in this desperate situation. I must bring this whole miserable tale of my life to a close, or I shall never live to finish it.
Thus, it is with a shaking hand and a heavy heart that I seal up my hasty confession and end the wretched, worthless life of Henry Jekyll.