(Reworked from a 2013 post.)
BOOK REVIEW: DR. JEKYLL AND MRS. SCHWARTZ
By Robert Louis Stevenson
(Ed. Note: It is our understanding that the author wrote a later book roughly based on this same story with some minor character changes and titled it “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. We regret we have been unable to locate a copy.)
Mr. Gabriel Utterson is an attorney and a close friend of Dr. Henry Jekyll, a mad scientist. While taking a walk with Mr. Enfield, he hears some strange stories about Dr. Jekyll and becomes concerned for his friend. He goes to his study and takes out Dr. Jekyll's will. It states that upon the death or disappearance of Dr. Jekyll, a certain Mrs. Bella Schwartz is to inherit the estate. He is convinced there is something amiss with the will and goes to Dr. Jekyll to inquire about it. Dr. Jekyll tells Mr. Utterson that there is nothing wrong, and to Mr. Utterson's displeasure, refuses to discuss his connection with Mrs. Schwartz.
Almost a year later, a maid looking out her window sees a woman trying to drag another woman into Dr. Jekyll’s house. She is heard to say, "Come in. You'll meet Dr. Jekyll, have a piece of cake and a nice glass of tea!" The maid recognizes the insistent woman as Mrs. Schwartz. Mr. Utterson accompanies a police inspector to Mrs. Schwartz's residence. It is sparkling clean but she is nowhere to be found. Fearing for Dr. Jekyll's safety, Mr. Utterson confronts him once again about his connection with Mrs. Schwartz. Dr. Jekyll swears that he will have nothing to do with Mrs. Schwartz ever again. He even presents a letter signed by Mrs. Schwartz that states Dr. Jekyll is a nice boy and that he has nothing to fear.
Time passes and to Mr. Utterson's relief, Dr. Jekyll returns to his former self, hosting parties, chasing women and helping out with many charities. Then suddenly, Dr. Jekyll begins to gain weight and refuses to see people. Mysteriously, Dr. Lanyon, a close friend to both Mr. Utterson and Dr. Jekyll, becomes deathly ill after eating a poisoned matzoh ball in some chicken soup. When Mr. Utterson visits him, Dr. Lanyon refuses to talk about Dr. Jekyll. He gives Mr. Utterson a letter that must be opened only upon his death. A week later, Dr. Lanyon passes away.
While Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield are taking another walk, they come across Dr. Jekyll looking out his window. As they talk to him, they witness a horrifying transformation in the doctor's appearance as he turns into a Jewish mother, waves at them and throws a kiss. This demeanor leaves them stunned and speechless.
One night, Dr. Jekyll’s butler, Poole, requests Mr. Utterson's help. It seems Dr. Jekyll has locked himself in his laboratory. When Poole and Mr. Utterson approach the door, they hear Mrs. Schwartz say, “Dr. Jekyll isn’t here. Don’t come in, I just waxed the floor!” They hear a gunshot. Thinking that there has been foul play, Poole and Mr. Utterson force their way inside. On the floor, they see Mrs. Schwartz, lying in a pool of blood and wearing Dr. Jekyll's clothes. She says, “It’s just a fatal wound. I’ll be fine!” And she dies. Inside, they find a letter written by Dr. Jekyll.
Mr. Utterson reads Dr. Lanyon's letter and finds out that Dr. Jekyll was having problems with some unexpected effects of the drug. At various times of the day, Dr. Jekyll would turn into Mrs. Schwartz and go into a domestic frenzy. He/she would wash everything in sight and cook brisket and chicken soup by the gallon. During one of those unexpected changes, Dr. Jekyll, who was embodied by Mrs. Schwartz, requested Dr. Lanyon's help in acquiring the ingredients needed for the soup because he could not show himself. In Dr. Lanyon's presence, Mrs. Schwartz transformed herself into Dr. Jekyll. The shock from this event was the real cause of Dr. Lanyon's illness and eventual death.
Finally, Mr. Utterson reads Dr. Jekyll's own confession. Dr. Jekyll's initial reason for developing the drug was to test his theory that man has a dual nature. He was successful in separating the clean and slovenly sides of himself. As Mrs. Schwartz, Dr. Jekyll lived the exhausting life of his Jewish mother side. Once, he said he heard himself say, “You couldn’t pick up your own dirty socks?” But the effects of the drug became unpredictable. Discovering that he cannot get hold of a crucial type of kosher salt, Dr. Jekyll realized that he could no longer continue in this double life. In the laboratory, unsuccessful at recreating the drug, Dr. Jekyll killed himself before Poole and Mr. Utterson could break in. Dr. Jekyll wrote the confession with the knowledge that if the Mrs. Schwartz character won over his nature, there would be no turning back and he would be doomed to cook brisket forever.