Jekyll and Hyde Adapted: Dramatizations of Cultural Anxiety

Jekyll and Hyde Adapted: Dramatizations of Cultural Anxiety

Jekyll and Hyde Adapted: Dramatizations of Cultural Anxiety

Jekyll and Hyde Adapted: Dramatizations of Cultural Anxiety

Synopsis

This book offers a compelling examination of performed adaptations of Stevenson's masterpiece, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Rose investigates how a single text, adapted many times in the past century, can serve to elucidate certain shifts in cultural attitudes. Providing an analysis of the relation between culture and performance, the author argues that Stevenson's adapters have infused the original story with concerns about issues of race, class, gender, and economics.

Excerpt

Using Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a prime example, this study will investigate how a class of ideas that is culled from adaptations of specific narrative sources is derived, and how those adaptation-born motifs assume places of importance in the body of popular-cultural references. Several areas of immediate interest are revealed when this class of ideas is considered.

Ideas born of adaptation can exert a reflexive, structuralizing influence on the cultural uses of the original narratives. These original texts (which this study terms "tracer" texts) are adopted as the bases of adaptational families (group-texts) because they are viable tools for the transmission of weighty themes and potent iconographic imagery. Modeled anew by the reformatting influences of serial adaptation (the readaptation of a single text over an extended time), popular concepts of a work's themes or iconic images come to carry effects as cultural symbols or metaphors. These transformed, popularly held concepts are absorbed by cultures or large groups within a culture because members of them (now functioning as audiences) are exposed largely to the adapted versions of the text. The adaptations, due to their roots as popular art created for commercial consumption, are disseminated via the most powerful of contemporary performative media using a complex process fueled by artistic, social and market influences. As remodeled visions of the tropes of the original (still bearing the importance that inspired initial co-opting), these "cultured" ideas from adaptations serve major functions in structuring future adaptations of the original, thus continuing the process and making it both reflexive and autonomic.

Yet, these ideas do not appear in the original text from which the family of adaptations derives. They are, instead, aspects of the "culture- text" of a story; they are both initial and final artifacts of adaptation. The culture-text is a result of the interactions of culture-as-audience with the . . .

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