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21 October 2011 @ 02:17 pm
The strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  
I literally just finished The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Stevenson . I read this book ten years ago but I didn't remember anything but the most basic plot points, and I decided to pick it up again.

First, let me say a word about the narrator. I love Mr Utterson's voice, I liked the character's portrayal as a man who is indulgent of others but has high expectations of himself. I also thought it pretty interesting that Utterson is a lawyer while the only ones who know and can understand what was happening (Lanyon and Jekyll) were doctors. The readers and Utterson are in the same position : we first have glimpses and insight into the story through legal documents and hearsay. Like Utterson, we finally learn the true identity of Hyde through Lanyon's and Jekyll's written confession.
I thought it a shame that, in the last two chapters, the author changed the point of views : while Lanyon's and Jekyll's confessions were necessary to understand the plot, I was sorry we didn't get Utterson's thoughts about Hyde's true nature and Jekyll's experiments.

I was, at first, rather surprised by Hyde's physical appearance : he is described as a short and slight man, with nothing noteworthy to set him apart in a crowd. But every character who meets him (even indulgent Mr Utterson) is instinctively repulsed by him. Hyde looks nothing like a traditional monster but he is (we learn it in the last chapter) the embodiment of Jekyll's darkest nature and desires ; he is evil personified. To be truthful, I find the idea that Jekyll has two bodies, depending on what part of his soul is foremost at the time, rather ridiculous. In short, Hyde is the exact opposite of Frankenstein's monster : he is evil but looks like anyone else, whereas Frankenstein's monster looks horrible but has human thoughts and feelings.

The only part of this book I didn't like was the last chapter : it is Jekyll's confession, written is the first person. Jekyll (I so wanted to nickname him "woe-is-me-Jekyll") explains that he always felt like he had two distinct natures within himself : one good and hardworking, the other selfish and pleasure-seeking. To me, it sounds like Jekyll is exactly like the rest of humanity, but he obviously thought he had a special plight. Jekyll invents a drug that enables his "dark side" to take control (do you think George Lucas was influenced by Jekyll's character while creating Darth Vader?), and the only reason Hyde took the upper hand was because of Jekyll's work as a doctor/mad scientist. Ironically, his work in science, that Jekyll considers good, has enabled and empowered his monstrous side.

To sum-up, I enjoyed this book, even if the last chapter was, in my opinion, far weaker than the rest of the story.