“Not my favorite gothic, but good.”Daisy wrote this review Saturday, February 19, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the best short(ish) story of all time!!! The storyline was fantastic, and Stevenson did a great job portraying the characters and setting, even with the pressure of describing it all in a mere 86 pages. ”Tarleton wrote this review Friday, February 4, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Surely everyone has already heard the enigmatic tale, or at least fragments of it, of the eccentric Jekyll and his darker half, Hyde; it is engraved as firmly into popular culture as Count Dracula or Frankenstein’s monster. Yet, only few can safely say they have read the original story, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, who is probably more fondly remembered for works like Treasure Island.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tells the story of a scientist’s (the titular Dr Jekyll) discovery of a potion which allows him to tap into the evil within himself. The character of Jekyll himself is a purely “good” one, seemingly sans any dire qualities and morally sane; by consuming the potion, however, he is capable of undergoing a unique metamorphosis: A side of himself he normally is not aware of takes control for a certain duration of time and wreaks havoc, for it is essentially a polar opposite of Jekyll’s “good” demeanour. Jekyll feels no dismay at this transformation, however, and enjoys the opportunity to live out his darker side, for it symbolizes freedom and a less restrained lifestyle. As Hyde, he may do as he wishes; freed from the shackles of his reputation and social status, he may perform any evil deed imaginable without any repercussions for his “real” self, as he is clearly visually distinguishable from his Jekyll personality when transformed into Hyde.
After a while, however, Jekyll realizes that his dark half, when allowed free roam for extended periods of time, demands more of his conscience; he experiences involuntary transformations into Hyde, with larger lapses of time required to return to his Jekyll personage. As such, Hyde slowly begins to take over and taint Jekyll’s everyday life; he is forced to become a recluse, and requires intake of the personality-changing concoction at set intervals in order to keep Hyde at bay. His friends and acquaintances do not remain oblivious of his sudden change in demeanour, however; they attempt to break into his locked room after thoroughly investigating Jekyll’s research and foreseeing terrible things; they find that Jekyll has committed suicide and are left to deduce the tortured state he was in from the notes he left behind.
Roughly two thirds of the book are written from the perspective of a friend of Jekyll’s, and entail his encounters with Hyde (while oblivious of the fact that it is in fact Jekyll), increased confusion at Hyde’s strange demeanour, and his subsequent investigation of Jekyll’s state. The last part is Jekyll’s personal notes, and describes Jekyll’s discovery of the potion and his slow descent into darkness from his perspective.
This would surely have been effective in order to leave the reader in the dark at the time of the book’s initial release, as it would be reasonably difficult to guess the Jekyll-Hyde split personality. However, due to obvious reasons, it is equally difficult nowadays NOT to be informed of it, which renders the entire first part of the book’s mystique and suspense essentially nonexistent.”
“This year is beginning much like last year; I've promised myself to read some of the classics that I've somehow missed, depsite being a total book nut and a bona fide English Lit major. Yep, I have the B.A. from Indiana University to prove it! Anyway, I only made it through a few titles last year, then my summer sort of took over my life (more on that later), and I was lucky to read much at all.
I'm going back to the plan of last January, and thus, a review of the tormented doctor. There's not much to tell here, really; if you've seen one version of the movie, pretty much any version, you know the basic story. That's the first surprise - this is really a short story, perhaps a novella, at best. The version I picked up was published by Amereon House, and the story runs only 117 pages, followed by some a short biography of the author, some historical background of the time, and some critical responses to the work when it came out.
The tale is told in the third person but mostly from the point of view of one Mr. Utterson, lawyer to Henry Jekyll, professor and chemist. There's an initial meeting with a fellow friend of Utterson's, a Mr. Enfield, where they encounter a small door in a thoroughfare, and Enfield tells Utterson of his first run-in with Hyde; the "brute" physically ran over a small girl, then disappeared through said door. Slowly but surely it's revealed that the door is connected to the laboratory found on the grounds of Jekyll's estate, and indeed, Utterson receives a will written by the good doctor leaving the bulk of his fortunes to one Edward Hyde. The lawyer is dismayed at the contents of the document, but says nothing.
A year later, the evil Mr. Hyde is seen slaying Sir Danvers Carew, and the chase is on to find and bring the murderer to justice. Except Hyde seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth; at the same time, the reclusive Henry Jekyll starts reappearing in high society, having dinner parties, etc. Then after two months or so, he completely disappears again. There's the death of a mutual friend of Utterson's and Jekyll's, one Dr. Lanyon, that really spurs Utterson to wonder at the true nature of the mystery of Mr. Hyde. Eventually, Utterson is summoned to the Jekyll estate, where he helps the butler, Mr. Poole, break down the door of the lab.... only to find Mr. Hyde dead on the floor. There is no sign of Henry Jekyll, and the two men fear the worst: that Hyde has killed Jekyll and buried the body somewhere nearby. Of course, a series of letters will reveal all, and the tale is now told.
As I said at the start of this review, if you're even somewhat familiar with Stevenson's tale, you know the story I read here. There really weren't any surprises, other than perhaps the description of Hyde. Rather than the hulking brute that I've seen portrayed in more than one movie, he's actually smaller of stature than Jekyll, slighter of build, and lighter of foot. When Utterson reads Jekyll's final letter, it's revealed by the good doctor that he believes his alter ego is thus formed because it hasn't been "exercised" as much as his "good" self. In fact, after Hyde has taken over for a while, Jekyll writes that he believes the brute is growing in size.
The other thing I found interesting from a modern reader's perspective is Jekyll's description of his "transformation": The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. As someone who loves to read supernatural novels, I read that line and immediately thought of the many and various descriptions I've read of humans changing into werewolves. Granted, Jekyll isn't turning into a lupine beast, but he is physically changing into something else, or someone else, as the case may be, leaving me to wonder if this is perhaps one of the first descriptive narratives of shape-shifting in literature. Probably not, but damn - it comes so close to the modern versions that I've read in the last few years! It would be interesting to know if any of my authors have read this and been struck by that passage as well.
Overall, I would recommend reading this classic. It's a fairly good story, well written, and best of all, short. Shouldn't take you more than a few hours to read, and it's never a bad idea to examine our dual nature as humans. ”
“Another of my Gothic favourites that explores the dark desires of man.”Paula M wrote this review Sunday, January 9, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book is awsome!!. This is probably one of the craziest books i've read. It has a creepy/weird sense to it which in my opinion makes it the book it is. Although at first it seems some what boring later on you get into it like really into it. The other thing i liked about this book was that it not only had one story to tell but others as well that in a way dealt with some what the same situation. overall this book is great beyond great i encourage everyone to read it!”Emilio F wrote this review Sunday, January 2, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Though it does have some parts that will confuse you, it will keep you on the edge of your seat and does in the end prove to be the classic its said to be. Good read.”RuthD wrote this review Wednesday, December 8, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Totally creepy... but still good...”Alex R wrote this review Wednesday, October 20, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Sally and i read it simultaneously ”John Stobart wrote this review Sunday, October 17, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No