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The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, #1)
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Strange Case Alchemists Daughter > TSCotAD: Good Father / Bad Father—or Both Bad Fathers?

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 03, 2017 07:53PM) (new)

I'm 25% into the book so far, and even though it's still up in the air at this point, I don't feel like this is a spoiler topic since everyone has to know that Mary Jekyll and Diana Hyde reference the original story where Jekyll and Hyde were two parts of the same man.

One of the major themes of the original story is that man is in a constant struggle between impulse and reason, and as we know from Tom's awesome research, Goss' story was created partly because of seeing how all the women in Gothic/English literature, while essential to the story, seemed almost disposable.

Goss creates two women—one Jekyll, and one Hyde—and makes them noticeably different, even though their father may have biologically been the same man (albeit, one is "chemically altered").

When you think about it, though, neither Jekyll nor Hyde were very good fathers to their daughters. One neglected his family for an obsession, and the other was a murderous monster. Is the Hyde aspect really the villain of the piece, or is it the Jekyll that created him in the first place?


Iain Bertram (iain_bertram) | 1300 comments I always felt that in these Victorian Gothic stories the scientist is the true monster.


message 3: by Mer (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mer | 173 comments Iain wrote: "I always felt that in these Victorian Gothic stories the scientist is the true monster."

Your comment reminds me of a book I read recently called Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets where the author does a good job of showing how the quest for the science overruled the impact to the humans involved. The author was the son of the scientist no less. My first thoughts were always similar to yours, my 'third thoughts' were to see if I could see their view point or not and how I felt after that. Definitely a challenging read.


Michele | 1154 comments They all have bad fathers - bad at being fathers and bad men in general, though Jekyll is the least-worst. Mostly because they're so obsessed with their mad science that they stop thinking of people as fellow human beings, and see only subjects to be "improved" or to experiment on.

Jekyll was fairly absentee as a father, and then he experimented on himself - always a bad idea - which went very badly and not as he intended. But at least he didn't experiment on Mary, and even as Hyde he didn't mess around with Diana. So I suppose in that way, he wasn't too bad - even though they both ended up broke and alone.

Mad science is bad - the general theme of the story. I don't want to spoil things, so I'll just say that there will be a clear"villain" character in the story later.


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 04, 2017 07:20PM) (new)

Michele wrote: "They all have bad fathers - bad at being fathers and bad men in general, though Jekyll is the least-worst. Mostly because they're so obsessed with their mad science that they stop thinking of peopl..."

We don't know if Hyde didn't mess with Diana or affect her in some way. We do know her mother was taking precautions, but still got pregnant. Whose to say that, in his chemically altered form, Hyde wasn't responsible for producing Diana's wayward personality? Especially if the chemistry affects DNA such that it can alter physical form.

Also, Jekyll knew the risks. He was putting his family last, and his hubris/work first. Experimenting on himself may have saved his daughter(s) Beatrice's fate, but is it much better to grow up without a father and face adulthood in poverty because he's not around and didn't plan for not being around?


Iain Bertram (iain_bertram) | 1300 comments Michele wrote: "They all have bad fathers - bad at being fathers and bad men in general, though Jekyll is the least-worst.

Jekyll was fairly absentee as a father, and then he experimented on himself - always a bad idea - which went very badly and not as he intended. But at least he didn't experiment on Mary,.."



Are we certain of that. A running theme in the commentary is that all the girls are monsters. I would not be surprised if we find that Mary was experimented on as well.

Dianna has a different parent so should be different :-)


message 7: by Nathan (last edited Oct 05, 2017 06:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments Goss' story was created partly because of seeing how all the women in Gothic/English literature, while essential to the story, seemed almost disposable.

Except Mina Harker in Dracula. She is smarter than all the men in that book. They ignored her to their detriment.

On the issue of families, fathers, science, and drive:

The sad truth of parenthood is that you are always "experimenting" (so to speak) with your children, in how you decide to raise them. One's first child is definitely an experiment because you have no idea what you are doing with him or her. Each subsequent one is different and need to be treated as such.

The way you raise them and teach them (or lack of both) can make them toxic or monstrous, in their own way.

The fathers in the book just took this subtext of parenting, and through their drive and amorality, made it text.

It also shows the resilience and triumph of the individual despite a rough start through the women in the book.


Rebecca (raitalle) | 52 comments I felt like it was implied a little bit that Hyde was planning/hoping to experiment on Diana, or at least she was part of an experiment. Rappaccini insisted in his letter that since it seemed like women were especially receptive to the kind of changes they were hoping to make, and that Jekyll should see what he could do with Mary. We don't have any outright evidence that he did, but Diana in her story tells of her mother saying that Hyde was really insistent in wanting a daughter specifically, not just a child. He left before Diana was born, didn't he? So he never had a chance to do whatever it was he was hoping to do.


message 9: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3909 comments Diana seems like a normal teen to me. Her actions and outbursts mirror my own 14 year old.

I thought this would have been about Rappaccini and Jekyll. Jekyll experiments on himself, with the effect that he leaves his family abandoned. Rappaccini suggests experimenting on his own daughter. Jekyll is weak. Rappaccini is actively evil.


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