I do believe in writing The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that Robert Louis Stevenson is the one person in the whole world who got away with using this gem of a line:

“If he be Mr. Hyde,” he had thought, “I shall be Mr. Seek.”

Like with many classics that are so well-known, I already knew the basics of this novel. But, again, with many classics that are so well-known, when you actually read them, it’s always different from what you thought.

In the introduction it’s mentioned that Stevenson believed that fiction shouldn’t be a transcription of life, which I found to be interesting considering how often I hear, “this just isn’t realistic,” in the writing world.

Stevenson took the concept of two men in one body, the struggle of good and evil in humanity, and created something that wasn’t a transcription of real life.

Dr. Jekyll in experimenting with this idea of two natures finds himself physically changed when separating them. When Jekyll transformed into Mr. Hyde I thought the most interesting part was how his physical characteristics became evil incarnate. Basically, ugly and instantly hated. But I wondered – why was the Jekyll not changed when the evil was separated from him?

Mr. Hyde is associated with freedom, or lack of obligation. None of what Hyde does is blamed on Jekyll, which…I mean it is still his fault that the nature of Hyde exists outside of a balanced good.

The conclusion was the only possible one, that of a extinguishing of both natures if they do not coexist. The indulgence of evil leads to a consuming evil, therefore Jekyll would cease to exist.

What’s interesting to me isn’t necessary the concept of the struggle of these two natures, because I think that struggle is present in many novels. However, in splitting the two it showed that the balance of those two natures is what’s important. You can’t have good without evil, evil without good.

Overall, I did think I’d like it more than I did. What Kept me from really getting into it was the storyline dragged. Instead of intensifying the story it fell a little flat for me.

January Review

February Review