My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having read this book as part of wider reading for my A2 English Literature course, I had high expectations. I had already watched an abundance of TV series adaptations for it (notably the one played on the BBC with James Nesbitt as the lead) and movies with the character in it such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so I was quite familiar with the character and was intrigued by the origins of him.
Without giving away much of what happens in the book, as every chapter was truly gripping, I was particularly fond of the conflicted light in which Stevenson revealed the character to us. At some points, he is this reserved doctor, a quick busy-body trying to get the job done without lingering around people for too long and trying, for the most part, to keep himself to himself. On the other hand, there is Edward Hyde; a sinister figure who provokes both revulsion and unease, surrounded by whispers of him trampling over a girl in the street.
Throughout the story, I got the sense that whilst Dr. Jekyll was not particularly fond of Hyde, he felt a strange duty to protect him from attack. Notably, discouraging Utterson to act on his suspicions about Hyde. Jekyll’s inner conflict is shown most often through his physical behaviour. Looks of horror crossing his face, trying to assure people that Hyde has left and will not be returning and retreating in to hiding.
There is a definite element of sadness within this novella. The fact that Jekyll was at first able to control his transformations but later they became involuntarily while he was sleeping really emphasises the lack of control his character has in comparison to his unstable other half. Furthermore, with more doses of the potion being required in order to revert back in to Jekyll, we see his character experience a fast deterioration of control.
The thing I loved most about this book, was the fact that I was conflicted the whole way through. Although some disagree, I do believe that Jekyll’s intentions were to manifest and destroy his evil because he held the belief that we all have an inner evil residing within ourselves. What he was unprepared for, was the force that his own evil would exert over him.
The real truth behind this story in my opinion, is that Jekyll was ignorant. He did not understand that himself and Hyde are not two separate people. One is not dormant while the other is in action, both exist together. Hyde is Jekyll when Jekyll is channelling his inner evil.
It’s a difficult concept to get your head around, but it’s a brilliant one. This definitely goes down in my list of favourite books of all time.
I’ve given this a 5 tick rating because I was hooked from the first chapter. As with most books written in previous centuries, the writing was dripping with eloquence. This is something I absolutely love when I’m reading a book, as I feel it makes the writing flow better as well as allowing for a more stimulating read.
Reviewed by: Tanya Marie