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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Paperback – May 28, 2014
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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.
Maybe that's what always drew me to this one. Unlike Frankenstein, I can relate to the character of Jekyll and Hyde in that we all have a dark side we'd love to indulge in without care or worry for the consequences. The fact Hyde is a dwarf and the embodiment of evil compared to the caring and handsome Dr. Jekyll is a perfect illustration to how being one way can alter the perception of those around us.
When one was near Hyde, they felt miserable and couldn't wait to be away from him. In time, Jekyll couldn't control the transformation as he'd go to sleep as himself and wake as Mr. Hyde. In the end the only way for him to escape was to take his own life or face the gallows for his crimes.
Was the fact he was the less desirable of the two sides of the good Doctor a figment of Stevenson's dream or done on purpose, I have no idea. I only know it's one of the greatest morality tales I've ever read.
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.