Monday, January 09, 2012

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A teacher recommended I read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for a project I did on horror in high school. I remember this novel being one of the highlights of my research. I loved it. My second reading of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was as good as the first. It might even have been better since the first time I read it, I was so young, I think grade 12. My reading tastes have broadened and matured; I think it helps give me new appreciation for the work. Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of "mystery and suspense" was my example of a classic horror. It isn't horrific because of gruesome killing scenes; it's horrible because something like Hyde could be living in all of us. It makes you wonder who would succumb to temptation of letting it loose, like Jekyll. 

I think it is safe to say that most people know the general story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde even if they haven't read the novel. I saw it portrayed in a re-run of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. It makes of wonder if I'm missing something when I read this story. Stevenson's original readers didn't know what was going to happen; they didn't know who Hyde really was or the hold he had over Dr. Jekyll. I think much of the intended mystery and suspense didn't exist for me. Though I read the novel knowing what the big twist at the end of the novel was, it was still really enjoyable. What I didn’t know when I first read it was that it was told from the point of view of Mr. Utterson, Dr. Jekyll’s friend. It was interesting to follow Utterson and watch the story unfold through his eyes. While a reader of the 21st century might know the secret, Utterson doesn't; I went through the novel anticipating his surprise and being excited when he finally learned the truth.

The appeal of the story is broad; it has mysterious settings, violence and excellent characters. More than anything, this story is driven by its characters. Utterson and Jekyll/Hyde move the plot forward, taking the reader on a dark journey. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a book not just for those who love horror and those who love classics, but those who love compelling characters.


  1. I've read Dracula and Frankenstein, but not his. Thanks for reminding me that I really would like to read it soon.

  2. It's been about a decade since I read Frankenstein, but I remember really enjoying it. I'm thinking of re-reading it in October. I'm actually reading Dracula now. For me, these, plus, Jekyll and Hyde are the big three of classic horror.