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

Posted December 12, 2013 in Book Review / 0 Comments

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis StevensonThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published by Barnes & Noble Classics on July 1st 2004
Genres: Classics, Adult fiction, Science fiction
Pages: 252
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
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Idealistic young scientist Henry Jekyll struggles to unlock the secrets of the soul. Testing chemicals in his lab, he drinks a mixture he hopes will isolate - and eliminate - human evil. Instead it unleashes the dark forces within him, transforming him into the hideous and murderous Mr. Hyde.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dramatically brings to life a science-fiction case study of the nature of good and evil and the duality that can exist within one person. Resonant with psychological perception and ethical insight, the work has literary roots in Dostoevsky's "The Double" and Crime and Punishment. Today Stevenson's novella is recognized as an incisive study of Victorian morality and sexual repression, as well as a great thriller.
This collection also includes some of the author's grimmest short fiction: "Lodging for the Night," "The Suicide Club," "Thrawn Janet," "The Body Snatcher," and "Markheim."

Main points

Writing Style
A little boring and occasionally vague, but not too difficult.
I really liked this. I think it’s the first book I’ve read where one person is actually two people, and he pulls it off really well and convincingly (except perhaps the changes in appearance). It is rather scary. I do find it interesting, however, that when Jekyll does manage to split himself in two- one of his halves is normal while the other is pure evil. Why not good vs. evil? That’s what it makes it seem like it should be like- but it’s not necessarily. Dr. Jekyll doesn’t spend all his time doing good things, but Hyde spends all his time doing bad things. And I found a Harry Potter element in there too- towards the end- where Jekyll contemplates suicide in order to kill the evil part of himself. In order to kill Hyde. Like Harry and the last Horcrux. It’s quite interesting. It’s the most unselfish suicide. But then there is the fact that HYDE committed suicide. So which of the two really did it? And why? 
It is also interesting that no one suspects anything. I mean, the physical differences help, but CLEARLY Hyde and Jekyll are very connected. They even have too-similar-to-be-coincidental handwriting. Hyde is always there when Jekyll is not, and vice versa.
There are also a lot of notes and letters written by various people.
Jekyll: It’s an interesting experiment he did, albeit a dangerous one. Shame he got addicted, but it was inevitable.
Hyde: Evil, obviously. Had no soul. I think it’s rather interesting that he hated Jekyll though, instead of pretending he didn’t exist. Did he know they were two different people? I would love to get inside Hyde’s head.
It was a pretty satisfying explanation and wrapup, and interestingly the only part done by Jekyll himself.

There were a lot of good quotes in this. One of them I used for my most recent Quote it Saturday.
“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.”
-Mr. Enfield, page 11
I love that one. It makes so little sense but it’s funny.
“He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point.”
-also Mr. Enfield, pages 11-12
Another funny one. So apparently he seems like he should be deformed, but we don’t know if he actually is. He just seems like he should be, somehow. Wow. Haha.
“‘If he be Mr. Hyde,’ he had thought, ‘I shall be Mr. Seek.'”
-Mr. Utterson
A marvelous play on words.
“…and when I know how he fears my power to cut him off by suicide, I find it in my heart to pity him.”
-Dr. Jekyll
This is brilliant not only because of the irony (the Harry Potter horcrux thing again) but also because of the peculiar idea it introduces. Imagine how scared you would feel, constantly knowing that another (or yourself) held your life in his hands. Especially in this situation!

Good vs. Bad


  • Characters
  • themes
  • plot
Less than perfect:
  • writing style
  • length

bottom line

This book had a lot of great themes and issues to explore. It was a nice, short and sweet mystery that really made you think. It was also quite scary at times and had awesome quotes. There was some humor as well. Not a bit of romance, but that wasn’t the point. Would I read more by Robert Louis Stevenson? Have done- Treasure Island. But I probably wouldn’t read any more. Would I recommend this book to others? Maybe.

About Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis (Balfour) Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of English literature. He was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov.

Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is only recently that critics have begun to look beyond Stevenson’s popularity and allow him a place in the Western canon.



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