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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Classic Starts Series) Hardcover – Abridged, March 28, 2006
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The first thing one notices upon reading this story is the use of language and the specific style in which the story is written. Stories just aren’t written like this anymore, and though it was an adjustment, I felt somehow draw to this unique quality. This classical style of writing gives this story an edge and a sense of mystery that would otherwise come off as boring or over exaggerated.
The true value of this story comes from the introduction of the duality of man, in which this particular character of Jekyll/Hyde represents. The duality of man wasn’t a new idea at the time this story was written, but this story captures a sense of humanity that is still assessable and applicable today. While instances that truly test the human psyche typically stem from some sort of trauma or moral or metaphysical dilemma, Dr. Jekyll explores the inner reaches of his soul simply because he can, and then there are consequences.
Many times people look at Edward Hyde as a villain, but he was only what Jekyll refused to be and was only able to exist because of Jekyll. After reading this story and understanding it to the best of my ability, I don’t see either of these personas as good or bad, but simply products of necessity.
Would Dr. Jekyll bothered to have sought the personification of this less socially acceptable counterpart had society not been so restrictive and “polite” at the time? Would Hyde have been so wicked if the perception of wickedness had not been so profound, or if his counterpart had been allowed the freedom to experience “wicked” things without the necessity of a transformation?
This story is in many ways a jab at society and the big picture that it paints in the minds of its citizens. Does everything have to boil down to question of right and wrong, or is there an acceptable grey area of existence for humanity to dwell within, in still live in harmony? I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’ll leave that to all the profoundly smart thinkers out there who believe they have all the answers.
For now, I just know that I enjoyed this story. Reading the account of these characters through a series of letters was strange and enlightening all at once. It allows the reader a chance to experiences different points of view, but can also have the effect of being indecisive and confusing. However, in this story, the confusion is a good thing. If you read this story with a full and complete understanding every thought and emotion expressed, then you are truly an evolved person and should go ahead and ascend into the heavens. I kid, but seriously, this is not clear case to understand: mentally, physically, or spiritually. If anything, this story excels at leaving the reader with questions of why, how, and what about me?
I’d recommend this story to anyone who appreciates classical literature, sci-fi, and thought provoking stories that question the nature of humanity.
Compared to a modern "thriller" like Stephen King, this is pretty tame. However, Stevenson has a profound understanding of the human nature. Although an atheist, Stevenson had a clearer understanding of sin than most Christians, in the heart's natural desire for it, in the vain attempts to atone for sin through good works, and in the ultimate failure to overcome it on our own. While your typical thriller on the bookshelves these days is simply trying to scare you, Jekyll and Hyde is exploring what it means to be human. This is a worthy classic that you won't regret reading.
The true strength of the book lay in Stevenson's analysis of the nature of good and evil in mankind and the folly of trying to extract one from the other. It's also a classic example of the dangers of careless science as well as the power of addiction. Having the big reveal eternally spoiled really hurts the story and it's the book is written in a very dry Victorian manner. If you find the book a bit lacking in punch at least be assured it's a quick read.
Still, I enjoyed the surmounting evidence piling up for the real story and especially found it funny that Mr. Utterson had in his possession a letter that would explain things (even a little) very early on from Lanyon.
I expected the book to be told from Dr. Jekyll's point of view but I really liked that it focused on a concerned friend trying to understand what was going on with a mysterious will.