Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Behold: the regal and mystery that is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, if only I found it regaling and mysterious. A notable classic whose references still hold widely popular, the mystery has been stripped away—even for someone such as myself, who has never watched a film adaption. I am, however, familiar with the story and duality Jekyll and Hyde represent. Although far from a purely angelic being, Jekyll is neither good nor bad. What Dr. Jekyll equates to is an ambitious scientist who incidentally unleashes an evil from within himself. Now released, to be contained and muted beneath Jekyll’s morals and persona doesn’t appeal to the conscienceless Mr. Hyde. Confined in one body, a great struggle for dominance between two entities ensues, and what Jekyll might’ve hoped would be his success threatens his very life and reputation.

My devil had long been caged, he came out roaring.

This much I knew, as should everyone else. The puzzle piece is continually exploited and its references bomb pop culture. The mystery, then, is no longer a mystery. The shock value is nulled, but I didn’t read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde to hitch a ride on supposed thrill. Of course I liked the idea of knocking out another classic from my to-read list, but I also sought horror and hoped to be a first-hand witness to Jekyll’s torment. What I read, unfortunately, does not match up to what I had hoped to read. Where is the fright? The anguish in Jekyll’s eyes? Hyde’s fear and pursuit for control?

I found that it’s impossible to observe any of this because Stevenson denies his readers access. Some may disagree with my statement, but we—the readers—find ourselves strapped to Mr. Utterson’s side, hearing the story mostly through his account. (And in past tense no less.) Trapped in an outsider’s perspective, I, too—like Mr. Utterson—become a third party to the events of Jekyll and Hyde. I cannot observe the one most intriguing aspect, and everything I looked forward to reading about was crushed by Robert Louis Stevenson. Or, depending on how you look at it, Hollywood excelled in raising the standards of my expectations.

Mr. Hyde, as it turns out, is not the monster I expected. Stevenson only provides rare glimpses of the man, which does nothing to indulge my fantasy of an incorrigible evil that stalks nighttime streets. More importantly: rather than the individual of Jekyll or Hyde, what gives this novella power is the interrelationship between the two forces. Hyde begins as a dormant entity that emerges as a ruthless tyrant, growing to completely replace Dr. Jekyll. I am left in a disappointed state, because I believe the split individual(s)—the doctor and his freed cruelty—deserves spotlight. Had Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde differently, the duality of human nature could have been more deeply explored.

This is not to say I don’t enjoy or appreciate the theme. I did, in fact, take pleasure in reading this despite frustrations. The idea that people contain an alter ego, or two opposite forces, skulking beneath the public display of themselves is an interesting thought to tamper with. Although I had obvious disappointment—almost an anticlimactic experience—this literary work is long-standing and continues to see success. It remains a classic, and I feel that its references in popular culture will outlive many of us, which I think is enough reason to read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde at least once. I certainly don’t regret the short little while it took me to finish Stevenson’s story, and I’m quite glad I set aside the time.

This, as I take it, was because 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.

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In My Mailbox #4

In My Mailbox is a book meme hosted by The Story Siren. Click here to read more and participate!

In My Mailbox is a book meme hosted by The Story Siren. Click here to read more and participate!

I know it’s been a little while since I have been around, but I desperately needed time away for school. And now? I’m baaaaack! And with new books, too, as well as what I’m sure is a broken toe and sprained ankle — but let’s leave the latter tidbit at “Raya is too lazy to schedule a doctor’s appointment” and move on to the books. All right? Right.

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer & About a Boy

Soon after experiencing a mild burn-out on young adult literature, I was very firm about what my next purchase would involve. This included more “grown-up” works, yes, but I had a particular title in mind. No matter how many books I would buy, no matter how little or plenty I would spend, my next book purchase needed to include Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. By happenstance, I first spotted it in the bookstore months ago and failed to seize the opportunity. Hoping it was still there and that I wouldn’t have to wait even longer by placing an order, I strode back into the store this week. And? There it was, sitting exactly how I’d seen it before — crunched between other Howards and Hughs or whoevers — and I’m quite glad to be the proud owner of a sizzling hot book. (By “sizzling hot” I mean, “The cover is valuable and completely worth the immeasurable time I spend ogling and drooling,” as well as, “This book sounds great and I would like to figuratively consume it.”)

As for Nick Hornby’s About a Boy: the book was practically next to Howard’s novel. An impulsive buy! Who knows when I will get around to reading it, thinking about the number of unread books I already own — not to forget crazy stacks of library copies that I am prone to hoarding. In the least, I have seen the film. Although it’s been years since I last watched it, I did enjoy it and found the movie somewhat touching with good humor to boot. For now, I can only hope that I’ll develop similar feelings towards the book.

A Monster Calls

  • A Monster Calls: inspired by Siobhan Dowd’s idea, written by Patrick Ness, and illustrated by Jim Kay

Let me tell you: I experienced a strange emotion when I left the bookstore. Book-buying is a pick-me-up. If I’m not buying for someone else, I am buying to make myself a little less craptastic, and in both cases I walk out in a boosted mood. This time around I felt bad. This is the first time, and hopefully the only time, that I will associate icky emotions and book-buying, although I suspect this has to do with the lovely numbers on the receipt. I don’t normally spend $50 in one visit, because I’m used to spending $30 or below. I might drop in twice in one week and spend $70 — and then go in two more times the following week — but spending little increments during each visit feels better than going all-out. Doesn’t it?

In any case, I did not buy this for myself! If you caught my last post, I mentioned a giveaway. Of course, deciding on which book(s) to give away is something I have difficulty on narrowing. There are a number of great books I’d love to share and gift, but which do I choose?! [Frowns. Pulls hair. Grunts.]

I spied A Monster Calls, and I knew then that is one book I’d love to ship off to someone. No hesitations here: this is one book that will sit on my favorites shelf for years and years. It’s endearing for its honesty, which I appreciate, and I was taken aback by how moving a story I find it. I will give it away (internationally, and I’ve already decided that you do NOT need to be a follower)* once I have reviewed it, so readers be looking.

*To note: I am leaning toward Tumblr’s reblogging system for this. As I’m not particularly fond of Rafflecopter, this seems like a straight-forward means. If you have experience with other giveaway methods, to share about it is more than welcome.

Out of the Easy & The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Although I bought Sepetys’ and Stevenson’s books several weeks back, I thought I’d slip them in this post — and I’m doing exactly that. I am aware that I have only read Ruta Sepetys’ debut novel, Between Shades of Gray, but I already consider myself a fan. Having read and adored nearly everything about Ruta’s first novel, I find it difficult to imagine that Out of the Easy will disappoint me. Unfortunately, as I’ve said, I’m in a ‘YA lit is a no-no’ mood. I don’t plan to start this book any time too soon, but I expect and look forward to having my emotions flipped around like pancake batter.

In the mean time, I’m sl-o-w-ly making my way through Stevenson’s collected stories. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one story I’ve nagged myself for years to read, and: I read it, finally! I will save my thoughts for a review, but what I think is similar to how I feel about Treasure Island: likeable and readable but lackluster. For now I’m keeping a distance, but I do plan on returning for the next story: The Lodging for the Night.

And I’m all out of new books to share! Which books have you recently picked up?

Raya
xo