Monday, July 4, 2011

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

I saw this book on the library shelf and couldn’t resist for three reasons:
1) Its a classic,
2) I have Treasure Island (also by RLS) on order for Daniel
3) Its only 88 pages long and I thought, surely I could handle that

I read the book in one day- a lazy Sunday to be exact. The first 2-3 pages were a little difficult to get through and I must admit to having had to reread some of the parts to make it all make sense but once I got into the rhythm of the writing- and it was written about 130 years ago- it became easy and I couldn’t put it down.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde explores what happens when one man indulges his dark side through chemical means- more relevant now in our drug addled culture than at the end of the 19th century.
It’s a brilliantly woven tale exploring the dichotomy of good and evil.
I also wanted to study the build up of suspense as I’m writing my own paranormal. RLS drip feeds you info about Mr Hyde- at first it starts out with innuendo about the nefarious Mr Hyde and gradually the tale unfolds through the eyes of Dr. Jekyll’s lawyer, Mr Utterson. The book opens with him learning of Mr Hyde and no one can determine his relationship with Dr Jekyll. Utterson assumes that Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll. By the end, the whole sordid tale has been revealed to the astonishment of Mr Utterson and another friend, Dr Lanyon and the bizarre truth will be the undoing of the latter.
Long after I finished reading it, I found I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In a nutshell, it’s the age old issue of good versus evil. Instead of being repelled by his alter ego Mr Hyde, Dr Jekyll exhibits a mixture of sympathy, fascination and an inability to resist the heady, free side of evil. Mr Hyde, on the other hand, shows only indifference towards Dr Jekyll.
This tale is so part of our culture now that we refer to moody (that’s a polite term) people as being a Jekyll & Hyde and in one of my kids’ DVDs, Alvin & the Chipmunks are putting on a school play of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde.
It’s a great classic; read it if you get the chance.

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