Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I’ve known the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde story for a long time. But I’ve never read the story and I did so for the first time for National Novel Reading Month.

There were a few surprises. The first one was that the POV character is a lawyer, not Jekyll or Hyde. In fact, the first mention of Hyde is in conversation with someone who saw him beating up a child.

This someone just watched. I found his matter of factness odd. As if events like that are normal. He did comment on how horrifying it was, and yes, captured Hyde. But I think that’s because Hyde exudes evilness. If someone less obviously evil had been beating up some kid, I am thinking he would have passed on by without comment.

There is a time in the middle of book when Hyde makes a mistake (he kills someone very very important!) and Hyde is forced to flee. The lawyer visits Dr. Jekyll; Dr. Jekyll tells him Hyde is no longer a concern. I am pretty sure the lawyer suspects Dr. Jekyll of something, but does nothing. He wants to protect his client’s reputation. Dr. Jekyll goes out and about, lives an exemplary life.

Meanwhile, a friend of the lawyer’s dies and leaves a letter only to be opened upon Dr. Jekyll’s death. (I imagine this condition is to protect the reputation of all involved.)

Than Dr. Jekyll’s butler calls the lawyer; they break into the house. They discover Mr. Hyde’s dying body, a vial of poison in his hand, dressed in Dr. Jekyll’s clothes.

All the letters that weren’t supposed to be opened until someone was dead are opened and read, and the truth discovered: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde exist in the same body and are probably the same person through some odd scientific process.

I wasn’t expecting this particular discovery to be made through a couple of letters. I was expecting something else. I don’t know what, something else.

One thing Dr. Jekyll mentions in his letter is that he has always indulged in some bad sins and that Hyde just takes those sins to extremes. It makes me ask, what kind of sins? He never says, but did Dr. Jekyll get off on milder forms of the things Hyde does: beating up and killing people? Maybe he was never as good a person as on the TV shows I remember the story from.

Not really sure, but if he did, maybe he deserved what he got.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

  1. I was also surprised that Jeykll and Hyde were neither the points-of-view nor under an omniscient third person. Stephenson delivered his story in very coy manner. I wouldn’t think Jekyll is a killer, though; he indulged in minor sins, vices not unlike what everyone has. Thus we see the play of human nature in the piece.

    Couple of typos: Para4 – sentence has two periods. Also, “suspect” for “suspects.”

  2. I read Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde a while back and I really enjoyed the book. I suppose some of the events appear anachronistic but then again, at the time it was written, society operated differently, so the case of an adult beating a child would not be seen as anything in which to interfere. Still, it’s a fascinating study of human nature.

  3. I actually think that the book would be better if the POV would be Dr Jekyll. I mean, it could open the book to further character development and such. But also, the limited perspective we have for the book, that Dr Jekyll is not the POV though he is the main subject of the story, has also created an air of mystery.

    I enjoyed this post. And I wrote my own review of the book too. You could find it here:
    http://pageprophet.blogspot.com/2013/07/book-review-strange-case-of-dr-jekyll.html

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