Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

(No Series)
Horror, Gothic, Classic

Robert Louis Stevenson originally wrote Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde as a "chilling shocker." He then burned the draft and, upon his wife's advice, rewrote it as the darkly complex tale it is today. Stark, skillfully woven, this fascinating novel explores the curious turnings of human character through the strange case of Dr. Jekyll, a kindly scientist who by night takes on his stunted evil self, Mr. Hyde. Anticipating modern psychology, Jekyll And Hyde is a brilliantly original study of man's dual nature—as well as an immortal tale of suspense and terror. Published in 1866, Jekyll And Hyde was an instant success and brought Stevenson his first taste of fame. Though sometimes dismissed as a mere mystery story, the book has evoked much literary admirations. Vladimir Nabokov likened it to Madame Bovary and Dead Souls as "a fable that lies nearer to poetry than to ordinary prose fiction."

“It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it. ”  

I finally got to read a tale so well-known around the world. It wasn't a disappointment, although the Hyde in this 18th century piece of literature is less violent than later adaptions, likely due to the age of the times. 

The rigid Victorian background setting, as well as the Dr. being at the height of social esteem for his profession, drives home the point that a person would love to let go and unwind against the oppressing constraints. Always having to be polite, proper, careful, and courtly had to have grown old for some. I know it did the author himself, who took to hanging out in unruly areas for some release before leaving for more isolated surroundings where he could relax and let his hair down (so to speak).

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an excellent literary study on the bizarre, complex dual natures inside humanity. Whether one thinks this duality is a plague of humanity, or else a relief, is up to debate and interpretation.

A shorter piece, it needs no further length to serve its purpose. It's told through the viewpoint of a friend, so that it's as if the reader is outside looking in, seeing a mystery unwind, making the theme more potent. Being inside the mind of the man would not have worked as well in some ways, but would have worked better in others. The mystery would have been lost on what was going on, but on the positive side more emotion would have been felt as he struggled with his internal demons if we could have been an actual part of his thoughts.

Stevenson having it from an outside perspective made it more of a mysterious study and observation rather than an experience. Still it was easy to relate to as we all understand. The good Doctor Lanyard could not understand, clearly, as he was so horrified it was indicated it led to his death or else played a massive part. This could be because so many people in the Victorian times were always in the mindset of being right and proper that it would not have even been considered to some to let this side of themselves out, or that this side even existed to be released. 

Everyone today knows what the story is about, so reading it for the time time doesn't hold impact or surprise. Written in the day though, it was ambiguous with small clues told through a narrow narrative, and would have been a shock to the audiences, much as Psycho must have initially been.

Movies and such show Hyde as deformed or evil looking. Here it shows him as older and a normal looking face that, once looked upon, people immediately know there is something wrong and "off" about it. They can't always put their fingers on the reason, yet they react with dismay, sensing something there that shouldn't be, wanting to get away from it.  Hyde covers his face much of the time for these clear reasons as much as he can. In addition, Hyde is always shown as older and much, much shorter than Jekyll. This makes it a much larger surprise to the audience on them being the same in the end. 

Some theories have supposed that besides the Victorian strangling of the day, that Stevenson also incorporated the theme of Opium, alcoholism and other drug dependency as a society ailment, and the moral lessons and themes of how much a person can be aged and transfigured, irrevocably altered so much to the point where they may one day stand unrecognizable to their closest friends and families, turning themselves into their own versions of monsters.

Although 18th century literature, since it's easy to read and not bogged down by over-flowery writing and drawn-out wording, it should appeal to audiences today. The theme is something that will always appeal, no matter which generation is reading it. In fact, further generations will likely appreciate it more as they are more familiar with the recognized dual nature of man.

   Book Quotes:

“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm. ” 

“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”

   Movie Trailer:

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