Saturday, December 7, 2013

#BookReview--> The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson



“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.” 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is R.L. Stevenson's highly acclaimed classic that first came out in 1886 and dealt with the split personality phenomenon. An instant hit, it has been adapted for TV, movies and on stage multiple times.

Living in the Victorian era in England, Dr. Jekyll is a respected man held in high esteem
by his colleagues. He is also famous for hosting great dinners and for his gentlemanly ways. But what no one suspects is that Dr. Jekyll is also the mysterious and cruel, Mr. Hyde who had ruthlessly trampled a small girl once without any qualms!

Mr. Utterson, a close friend as well as the attorney of Dr. Jekyll, is concerned about Dr. Jekyll's close companionship with Mr. Hyde and also worried about his safety. He suspects that Mr. Hyde is biding his time and planning to kill the doctor at the first chance that he gets. So it is Mr. Utterson who investigates the strange occurrences that start happening with Dr. Jekyll and the mysterious gaps in Mr. Hyde's sightings.

As Mr. Utterson says when he decides to find all about Mr. Hyde.
"If he be Mr. Hyde," he had thought, "I shall be Mr. Seek." 

I still remember the first time that I read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the thrill I got after reading it, one would suspect that it would diminish the second time one reads the same book but that has not been the case with me. Howsoever times I read this book I feel the same excitement and the same chill. The effect that R.L. Stevenson produces on the readers has stood the test of time. The atmosphere is of secrecy, mystery and horror. There is a good man and a bad man. With nothing in common but yet they share such a friendship that the good man, Dr. Jekyll is averse to listening to anything foul about Mr. Hyde and is so inclined towards him that he evens pays off any problems that he might encounter like he signs the check to payoff the small girl's family after Mr. Hyde has trampled and injured the girl! But the same cannot be said for Mr. Hyde who is indifferent and uncaring towards everyone and everything. He has a craving for violence and has no patience for society norms.


“Jekyll had more than a father's interest; Hyde had more than a son's indifference.” 


The story does not have many settings. Everything is either happening in the lab of Dr. Jekyll or through letters. There is no direct POVof Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll also only voices his perspectives at the very end. Anyone will think that this should dampen the appeal of the book where the main characters are for the most part in the background but no, the expertise and skill of the author in handling the streaming of the flow is admirable and he keeps the reader entranced the whole time. I was totally enchanted by the vivid descriptions of the Victorian London and the scenarios. Everything was happening like a movie playing in my mind and I could imagine myself walking beside Mr. Utterson when he first learns of Mr. Hyde or could definitely imagine myself looking up to see Dr. Jekyll sitting at his window looking pale and mysterious!


A book that will enchant and give you nightmares. This is a story that debates the issues of suppressed desires and the belief that everyone is made up of a good part and a bad part. If the good and the bad are separated then what will happen? Will it always be like it was with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or is there another solution?


The characters are sketched such that they remain with you long after you have finished the book. Dr. Jekyll is a gentleman and a highly acclaimed doctor. At first sight he is the perfect specimen of good breeding and high education but can we ever know anyone fully?


Mr. Hyde is his dark side. A man with no conscience and an utter disregard for any rules of morality or society, he is man of high action and no consideration.


“All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.” 


Mr. Utterson is a serious man by all regards but also a loyal friend who is persistent in his actions to know the problems haunting Dr. Jekyll and help solve them. He is also very inquisitive and ready to take risks to quench his curiosity. His character also gives us a glimpse of duality where on one hand we have the serious and very professional attorney and on the other hand is the man ready to take risks and act on impulse.


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde makes the reader ponder and think about the scenarios where many a times a seemingly good person is accused and proven to be someone entirely different from his expected character where people often can be heard saying "He was such a good man.I don't know how he could be a murderer?" or "She was so devoted, definitely didn't expect her to be capable of doing something like this!"


A story with multiple layers to it and many ways of taking the story. I give The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a shining 5 out of 5 and highly recommend this book to everyone. An unforgettable epic from R.L. Stevenson, this is not to be missed. :)

“There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul.” 

      

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