This is one of those novels (novella actually), that even though I’d never read it, or even watched a movie version, I was quite familiar with the plot.
However, it was not what I expected: a classic thriller, pursuit of a maniacal villain, grotesque horrors, and satisfying justice. Nope.
Which in one sense was disappointing. I decided to read a few macabre tales for Halloween, and even though this is typically classified as horror, it isn’t very scary. It wasn’t quite what I hoped for. There is little portrayal of Hyde’s villainy – the reader is simply asked to believe he is despicable at the assertion of Dr. Jekyll.
In one sense, disappointing; in another more profound than I anticipated. I think more was intended than just a fantastic tale. Stevenson quite clearly believes in a dichotomy within man – the divine creation and the depraved sinner struggling within a single human vessel. Something akin to the familiar portrayal of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, arguing with our conscience. By experimentation, and unlucky chance, Dr. Jekyll concocts an elixir that is able to isolate his two natures. Under its influence, he is transformed into the villain Mr. Hyde.
I am of a similar mind as Stevenson. I think every human has the ability to do good and evil. More than just ability, competing proclivities: a divine spark endowed by the creator and a bent to sin inherited from Adam. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an interesting drama of the contest between the two, though I am unnerved by the apparent conclusion – that man cannot subdue his depraved nature.
Well actually, I agree with that but would add: apart from divine grace.
My rating: 3 ½ of 5 stars
I read this for The Classics Club - Get Your Goth on Dare.
And now, for my next Halloween-themed Horror, another tale that explores the two natures of man: The Invisible Man.
Most of the story is told from the point of view of London attorney Gabriel Utterson. Both excerpts are descriptions of Utterson.
In this character, it was frequently his fortune to be the last reputable acquaintance and the last good influence in the lives of downgoing men.
Hosts loved to detain the dry lawyer, when the light-hearted and loose-tongued had already their foot on the threshold; they liked to sit a while in his unobtrusive company, practicing for solitude, sobering their minds in the man’s rich silence after the expense and strain of gaiety..