I’m back with another edition of the 30DBC. Today I’ll be tackling my favourite classic book, which is …
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
I believe people should be pretty familiar with this classic “monster” as it has been adapted in so many films and TV shows – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen being one of them. In many of these adaptations it appears that Mr Hyde is just a terrible, old man version of The Hulk. But the true story of Mr Hyde is quite different and worth the read.
[Dr Henry Jekyll] searches for a chemical that will allow him to separate out the two sides to his nature. He is fascinated by the duality of man and wants to explore his darker side. Resolute and determined, eventually he succeeds. But his evil self becomes stronger over time, until it threatens to extinguish Jekyll altogether. The doctor has played with fire and he’s burning from the inside. – Ian Rankin, The Guardian
I read this classic when I was about fifteen in my literature class, and I fell absolutely in love with it. The story is amazingly layered – even the house which Jekyll lives in foreshadows his duplicity in character with the front being quaint and resembling of the doctor’s structured lifestyle and the back of the house as a dark alley, sinister and mysterious. The dark alleyways he wanders upon, committing his crimes echo the psychological pathways of Dr Jekyll’s mind – constantly pushing the boundaries between sanity and madness.
In essence, the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is that of human nature and our ability to slip into different personalities depending on the condition and the situation. It contemplates: Are we all capable of murder? Is the only thing that separates us from committing a crime just a small tweak in our personality? The difference between a deviant thought and a murderous action?
So, while you may already be aware that Dr Jekyll is Mr Hyde, this classic is still a very relevant read. The story is still enveloped in mystery regardless and the imagery which Stevenson weaves can still be admired.
Plus, if you get the book, there are also other short stories which tell equally mystifying tales. One of my other favourites is The Body Snatcher, which tells the tale of a medical doctor, Knox, and his assistants who operate on dead bodies. The mystery behind this story is where these bodies come from exactly – especially when one of the assistance suddenly recognises one of the cadavers as a woman he met just the day before. And when they learn the truth, the mystery only thickens. This story is based on The Burke and Hare murders, and the ending is positively hair-raising.
It is possibly due to these additional short stories which makes me treasure this book all the more.
So, to cap of this post, I will again remind all of you to check out Rhey of Sunshine‘s blog for her favourite classic book, as we are continuing on this book challenge together. And I will see you tomorrow for a book I absolutely hated – be warned, I can get pretty waspish for this next post.
Till next time,