The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is an 1886 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. The novella concerns Dr Jekyll – a gentleman of good social standing - and Mr Hyde, a degenerate and murderer described as a primitive man.
A series of unexplainable events leads to the discovery that Dr Jekyll is taking a draught which transforms him into Mr Hyde and he is ultimately responsible for the debauchery and murders which have been happening in London.
Although not strictly science fiction, Stevenson’s novella is an early example of how fiction can be used to explore what happens when humans use science to alter their biological molecular structures to become something other. The novella shows us an extreme example of the alteration of human biology which has adverse effects and creates something which is less than human, without morals or principles.
The idea of what it means to be human is raised as well as the extent to which humanity should have power over the artificial creation of life. On a deeper level, the psychology of life is explored and questions are asked about how different Dr Jekyll, the upstanding gentleman is really different from Mr Hyde who at least behaves in a manner which is true to his promotive nature. Just what does it mean to be human after all?