Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Classics Club Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - By Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 4 Stars

     Well that was odd. 
     When you start reading a Classic, any Classic, you have to remember that it won't be written like the books of today. I don't just mean that the wording will be more difficult, or even the sentence structure, I mean the viewpoint that the story is told from. I had expected this to be told from the point of view of the protagonist, Dr. Jekyll. Instead, it was told from the viewpoint of one of his friends, Mr. Utterson. I liked how it was told that way, you were able to see the other characters' reactions to Dr. Jekyll's strange behavior, and the curiosity to what may have caused it. You also are able to see their feelings toward Mr. Hyde, and how they completely disagree with Jekyll's decision to trust Hyde.
     The majority of the story is told this way. Hyde is a hated man, one who people despise at first glance, though they can never place just why that is. Jekyll is respected and loved, but has begun to act strangely, with a lot of fear and distress. Nobody can quite figure out why this is, or why he spends time with Mr.Hyde, especially after Hyde murders an important man. Gleefully; He murdered him gleefully.
     The last two chapters change a bit from the pattern of the first. The second to last chapter is told as a letter from Lanyon, a friend of both Utterson and Jekyll. It tells of how he (Lanyon) did Jekyll a favor, only to discover that Jekyll and Hyde are one and the same. And the last chapter is told from the viewpoint of Dr. Jekyll himself. 
    Now is when it gets weird. 
    I had always thought that Jekyll had some mental issue, but then I read the book. I discovered that he believed that people were commingled of both good and bad, and that this fascinated him. Long story short, he creates an elixir which he believes will separate the parts into two different entities. He succeeds, and for a while he is able to switch freely between his different personalities. He enjoys evil-doing as Hyde and is guilt free when he returns to being Jekyll. But you can see him going crazy by his words. Though he enjoyed his ability at first, he never referred to either man, Jekyll or Hyde, as 'I'. It was always by their first name. But then he started having trouble controlling the side of him that was Hyde, and was for a little while, referred to him as Hyde (the hate he had for Hyde was very evident), and to Jekyll as 'I'. Jekyll and Hyde grew to hate each other with a passion, and the only reason that Hyde ever let Jekyll return was fear, fear of being caught and killed for the murder he committed. But Hyde also feared Jekyll, since Jekyll had the power to kill him, though this was only through suicide.
     Jekyll and Hyde are not two different people, not really. Because it isn't like Jekyll couldn't remember what had happened as Hyde, he remembered it all. He kept his mind no matter what personality he was. The only difference was their morals. Their morals, their desires, their fear, all the things that make someone an individual were different. But it was the same mind. And so, the same person. 
     Engaging? definitely. Strange and potentially disturbing? Wonderfully so! Recommended? Yes.


  1. Another great review. I appreciate your insight.

  2. Great review! It makes me want to go read the book.