Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R L Stevenson

Title: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Author: R L Stevenson
ISBN-10: 0582427002
Publisher: Penguin Classics/64 pages

Robert Louis Stevenson’s "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is a timeless novella first published in 1886. The classic battle between good and evil is played out not in the forms of a hero and a villain, but within the mind and soul of one man who plays with the idea of acting out his malevolent wishes. It is a much deeper study of the human soul and its longing to be evil, suffering none of the consequences. Repeatedly, Jekyll drinks his liquid courage and sets free the evil that lies inside. As the days, weeks and months pass by, Jekyll finds it harder to control the beast within, and his unholy friend starts appearing more often. Ultimately, Mr. Hyde goes too far on one of his escapades, driving Jekyll to the brink of insanity.

The story starts with the introduction of characters such as Enfield and his friend Utterson. After hearing a bizarre story involving Dr Jekyll, Utterson sets out to unravel the mystery surrounding Mr Hyde. We also get to meet Poole, Dr. Lanyon, and a maidservant who witnesses actions against one Mr. Carew. Although Jekyll and Hyde are the title characters, most of the book focuses on Utterson.

While reading this book, I thought that Dr Jekyll is more evil than Hyde. Instead of prohibiting himself from taking more of the elixir, Jekyll openly enjoys it. He could have controlled it but he did not.

Robert Louis Stevenson portrays every man's dual character and the onus is on us to choose which way we want to go. Stevenson describes the city, buildings and people as they were at that time. The characters are very real and convincing; some might even be compared to people on our own lives.

Somehow, I found that the whole plot was a bit slow and boring at the beginning and there was a forceful rush towards the end to finish it. Still I felt that one should read this book at least once if only to enjoy the sheer beauty of words. I am glad that I read it.