Tuesday 19 January 2016

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Published as a shilling shocker, Robert Louis Stevenson's dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the idea of the split personality. The story of respectable Dr Jekyll's strange association with damnable young man Edward Hyde; the hunt through fog-bound London for a killer; and the final revelation of Hyde's true identity is a chilling exploration of humanity's basest capacity for evil. 

This was not what I thought it would be like! Clearly the many re-tellings and references have morphed the original story in popular culture. For instance, it was told mostly from a friend of Dr Jekyll's perspective, Mr Utterson, so we spent most of the story completely unaware of Mr Hyde's origin, just thinking he was a slightly murderous friend of Jekyll's.

My favourite part was the last chapter, which was Dr Jekyll's letter explaining the journey he made in his discovery and the consequences of losing control. He explains how he thought that mankind would be better if we could completely divide the good from the bad, to give the good a chance to reach their full potential. However, he realises that by becoming Mr Hyde, he had no good conscience to control himself. Overall, it was a really interesting take on the human condition and the balance between good and evil. 

Published 29th November 2012 by Penguin, first published 1886.

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