Sunday, 26 January 2014

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson - Review by Carlyn

I like to read class books because I think they are special. A book that has stood out to be remembered for generations must be extraordinary. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1884) wrote many books such as Treasure Island and Kidnapped which also became classics. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Hyde is a story about good and evil. Dr Jekyll is an upstanding citizen tired of always doing the right thing. He wants to be free to do indulge in all kinds of vices without any consequences.  So, he creates a formula that can change him into someone else. The result of the formula is that he can transform himself into Mr Hyde, a mean, menacing man who cares only for himself. Mr Hyde is all that is evil in Dr Jekyll.  At first Dr Jekyll loves having an alter ego but then he finds himself unable to control him and then someone gets murdered.
The story is actually narrated by Dr Jekyll’s friend, Gabriel John Utterson. Utterson investigates Dr Jekyll when he learns he is friends with the evil Mr Hyde. He doesn’t know that Mr Hyde and Jekyll are the same person. I thought his investigation was hampered by Victorian decorum and like any mystery or horror story, you always say to yourself, “Why doesn’t the character to do [insert solution] “ which you feel would easily solve the mystery or keep them safe. In the novel, I thought why doesn’t Utterson refuse to leave until Dr Jekyll gives him answers or why doesn’t he just break down the door or sneak in to investigate? Utterson learns about Mr Hyde through other people rather than by his friend Dr Jekyll, just because Jekyll refuses to see him. It was hardly investigating either, just mulling around and getting a letter from another friend.  He eventually becomes more proactive towards the end of the novel. He even breaks down a door, just like I wanted.

I think the story would have been better if it was narrated by Dr Jekyll. I would have liked to have read about his adventures as Mr Hyde. In the book, you learn that Mr Hyde is evil but you don’t hear about many of his misdeeds. I would have liked to have read his interactions at the club house and getting into fights. I thought that the author, did a great job in describing Mr Hyde. Although nothing is physically wrong with Mr Hyde, there’s something in his aura that make people fearful and distrusting of him.

I think this book was one of the first to play with the idea of split personality. It was a huge success in its day and has since been adapted to TV, film and radio.The story can be adapted to suit any time period and setting.

 I can see why it is a classic. I think first time classic readers will find it a bore to read because of its slow pace though and old fashioned language though. If that is the case, I would recommend that they watch one of the movie versions instead. 


  1. Thanks for your review Carlyn. While I had a general understanding of the story from popular culture (my earliest exposure was probably from Bugs Bunny as a little kid) I never knew the story was narrated from a perspective other than that of Dr. Jekyll or a Third Party Omniscient author. I've always thought it would be fun to see an off Broadway version of the story. Having seen Wicked and read the book, I know that plays and of course movies too, can sometimes vary drastically from the original book versions.
    I did not know that Dr. Jekyll made a choice to explore his darker side. I always suspected that Mr. Hyde was an unexpected side effect of a different experiment. The premise is so interesting, and probably why the story became a classic. I believe that I read Treasure Island in school when I was very young, but I don't really remember the story.

    1. Yeah I thought that Mr Hyde was some kind of unexpected side effect too. I wouldn't mind seeing a play or movie version too. I have never watched one.


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