Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson

I wasn't sure I was going to finish this one after reading the first ten percent, but something about the book kept drawing me further into it- despite the fact that I know the basic plot. The title of the book has become a sort of catch phrase for multiple personalities, sudden personality changes, and inevitable mood swings. In a way, it's unfair that this classic has been absorbed into modern lingo, instead of being read like a book (as it should be). It's impossible to say what my impression of this book would've been if I'd been uninformed about the plot, but I think I would've enjoyed it more.

This book follows Mr. Utterson on his quest to inform Dr. Jekyll, an upstanding pillar of the community, that the man who benefits from his goodwill, Mr. Hyde, is a no-good scoundrel. It never seems to occur to Mr. Utterson that it is absolutely no business of his what happens to Dr. Jekyll's estate, but I think we've all seen the tabloid melodrama that occurs every time a celebrity passes on. It's curious to ponder why we care about such things- and it likely has something to do with greed and envy. Still, Mr. Utterson AKA busybody of the year must go about his busy-ness, otherwise, the plot of this book would go nowhere fast.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'In this harrowing tale of good and evil, the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll develops a potion that unleashes his secret, inner persona—the loathsome, twisted Mr. Hyde.'

I don't think I've read any of Robert Louis Stevenson's writing before, and I was impressed with the turns of phrase he crafted throughout this novel. Sometimes good writing can draw you deeper into a book, and I think that was the case with The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for me- I knew the plot, but somehow I still remained interested. It's worth noting that I skimmed some passages due to an abundance of over-emotional, drawn-out plot combustion (AKA, the plot was coming to fruition, and there were several, "but wait, there's more"-type paragraphs). True, other Gothic novels I've loved have done the same thing, but this one didn't get off scot free for it.

My favorite section of conversation, Mr. Enfield telling Mr. Utterson to watch himself:
"You start a question, and it's like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden and the family have to change their name. No sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask."
      ~The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, 8% Kindle edition

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde had some great moments, but in the end it felt like an overlong short story. True, I may feel that way due to knowing the plot beforehand, but a book blogger must always give an honest impression, and mine is this- this is a good book, but I won't mourn long if I forget everything about it a few months from now (unless, of course, it comes up as a question on Jeopardy!- then I'll be sad). If you want a quick, classic horror book to read prior to this year's Halloween festivities, this one might fit the bill- just don't anticipate Mr. Hyde to reach out and scare you overmuch.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a enticingly written horror classic.

Age Advisory: Ages 14+ for violence, dark themes, and sudden personality changes.

Page Count: 144 pages


  1. I do not remember when I read this. I don't know what I remember from the many movie versions and what was the story. I am also thinking I read it again since we have lived here, but it is weird to not know for sure. I will have to ask Sebastian if he had to read it for a class in high school because I used to read most of the books he was assigned. Maybe that was it. :)

    1. Because I've seen so many versions of it, I thought I might have read it before, but I hadn't. It's funny how bookish memory works- the only reason I can remember all the books I've read this year is that I have a Goodreads profile and keep track on there. That's why I try to review most of the books I read as well- my memory is a bit of a sieve for details, sometimes.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, La La!
      ~Litha Nelle


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