For most of my life I have been aware of a basic understanding of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I always associated it with a person of who has an extreme personality change. When I began to read the actual text, I realised my understanding of the story was in fact – very naïve. Perhaps you, my reader, share my prior misconceptions of the novella. Or if you have never encountered the tale in any form, let me enlighten you.
Written in 1886 by R. L. Stevenson, the novel centres on Dr Henry Jekyll, and his fascination with the self. More importantly, the question of good and evil. This exhilarating thriller is a gripping exploration of the duality of man’s nature, and the readers captivating intrigue into the character of Mr Hyde. It is the story that established Stevenson’s reputation as a writer, and of course, his most famous work.
Below is the 1989 trailer for the movie ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.
The story is in actuality, very short. No more than 60 pages make up the entirety of the tale. I enjoyed the exploration of the duality of human nature. At the beginning of the novella we are told about the character Mr Hyde. We are informed that he is a very cruel man who has knocked over a girl and with no remorse. Mr Enfield offers us a description of this man; he claims that ‘there is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable’. Yet Mr Enfield cannot account for he’s reasoning for this description. The reader is given the impression that this Mr Hyde character must be so detestable inside, that it is permeating his outward countenance.
The story had many Gothic elements which I enjoyed, as I love reading gothic-esc novels where the reader is waiting in anticipation for the next dastardly deed to unfold. The thrilling suspense the reader encounters with Mr Hyde made for a pleasurable reading journey. Dr Jekyll’s apparent kind personality countered with Mr Hyde’s malevolent nature offered the reader a juxtaposition made entirely more frightening by the culmination of the novella. Overall, this was a well crafted, brilliantly executed story, which holds it own whether or not you are aware going into it of the superb twist.