- Mass Market Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Signet Classics; Reissue edition (September 2, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451528956
- ISBN-13: 978-0451528957
- Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.4 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 1,962 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #965,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Signet Classics) Reissue Edition
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I won't describe the plot because I don't want to spoil anything. However, I love the writing style, and I really like that the story is told by a third party who is friends with Dr. Jekyll.
Overall, I give it four stars because I wish it had been a little longer. It felt a little rushed at the end, but maybe I was just reading too fast because I wanted to know what would happen. I would definitely recommend this book. It's an interesting story especially when Dr. Jekyll explains his reasoning. It's a lot of food for thought.
When you start reading a Classic, any Classic, you have to remember that it won't 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, thought 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 spend time with Mr.Hyde, especially after Hyde murders an important man. Gleefully, he murdered him gleefully.
The last two chapters change a bit. The second to last chapter is told as a letter from Lanyon, a friend of both Utterson and Jekyll. It tells of how he did Jekyll a favor, only to discover that Jekyll is Hyde, as Jekyll drank a cure before him. 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, then read the book. I discovered that he believed that people were commingled of both good and bad, and 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 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, referring 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 he also feared Jekyll, since Jekyll had the power to kill him, thought this was only through suicide.
Jekyll and Hyde are not two different people, not really. Because it isn't like he couldn't remember what had happened as Hyde, he remembered it all. He kept him 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.
Engaging? definitely. Strange and potentially disturbing? Wonderfully so! Recommended? Yes.
Most of the story is told from the viewpoint of Mr. Utterson, a lawyer who is a friend of Dr. Jekyll's and who observes Dr. Jekyll's strangeness from an outside perspective. Mr. Utterson has some experience bumping into Mr. Hyde as well and finds Mr. Hyde a most disturbing character. Most people know the premise behind the story, so the surprise twist at the ending isn't really a surprise. Basically Mr. Utterson tells you about Dr. Jekyll and how Dr. Jekyll's life is intertwined with the disturbing Mr. Hyde. Things culminate when Mr. Utterson receives a journal of Dr. Jekyll's that explains Dr. Jekyll's experiment in full.
This is a dark, mysterious read. If would have been full of suspense had I not already known the story. From Mr. Utterson's point of view the things that happen to Dr. Jekyll and involving Mr. Hyde are disturbing and upsetting. It isn't until you read Dr. Jekyll's journal, at the end of the book, detailing his experiments that things get very creepy and a bit spooky.
As a chemist I have to say that the chemistry described in the book and it's affect on Dr. Jekyll is ridiculous. I realize this is a work of fiction however and choose to ignore that, although I had to mention it.
Stevenson's writing is very readable; and the mystery and gloominess pervading the story is distinct. The story is very engaging and I found myself hard-pressed to put the novel down. At times the language is dated and a bit wordy, but I expected that.
Overall I am happy that I read this. It was nice to get the full version of the story and see what all following works were based on. It is a good piece of literature and an enjoyable read. Dr. Jekyll's journal at the end brings up some deeper questions about duplicity of personalities and the good and evil that dwells in all humans; so from that aspect it also gives the reader some food for thought.
But not so in this book. Here, we have a character not meant to be reasoned out or liked or glorified. A mindless beast personifying man's sin, epitomizing the grittiness of all the worst of our humanity, Hyde is fearful of death alone.
And the rest I leave to you, reader.