Friday, September 17, 2010

Classic Review - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (4/5 stars)

This was another classic book, like the Phantom of the Opera, that I had heard a lot about but never actually sat down and read.  It is a pretty quick read, well written, and fairly disturbing...although maybe not by today's standards.

Most of the story is told from the viewpoint of Mr. Utterson, a lawyer who is a friend of Dr. Jekyll's and who observes Dr. Jekyll's strangeness from an outside perspective.  Mr. Utterson has some experience bumping into Mr. Hyde as well and finds Mr. Hyde a most disturbing character.  Most people know the premise behind the story, so the surprise twist at the ending isn't really a surprise.  Basically Mr. Utterson tells you about Dr. Jekyll and how Dr. Jekyll's life is intertwined with the disturbing Mr. Hyde.  Things culminate when Mr. Utterson receives a journal of Dr. Jekyll's that explains Dr. Jekyll's experiment in full.

This is a dark, mysterious read.  If would have been full of suspense had I not already known the story.  From Mr. Utterson's point of view the things that happen to Dr. Jekyll and involving Mr. Hyde are disturbing and upsetting.  It isn't until you read Dr. Jekyll's journal, at the end of the book, detailing his experiments that things get very creepy and a bit spooky.

As a chemist I have to say that the chemistry described in the book and it's affect on Dr. Jekyll is ridiculous.  I realize this is a work of fiction however and choose to ignore that, although I had to mention it.

Stevenson's writing is very readable; and the mystery and gloominess pervading the story is distinct.  The story is very engaging and I found myself hard-pressed to put the novel down.  At times the language is dated and a bit wordy, but I expected that.

Overall I am happy that I read this.  It was nice to get the full version of the story and see what all following works were based on.  It is a good piece of literature and an enjoyable read.  Dr. Jekyll's journal at the end brings up some deeper questions about duplicity of personalities and the good and evil that dwells in all humans; so from that aspect it also gives the reader some food for thought.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges;
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Classic Reprint) 


  1. Interesting comments. I read this book many many years ago but never forgot it. I, too, was disappointed that the main "surprise" of the story is so well known nowadays. But what I found most intriguing was the Victorian idea of trying to separate the part of oneself that wants to do good from the part that wants to be sinful. Another story with a similar thought that you might like is Portrait of Dorian Gray.

  2. Hi John,
    Thanks for your comments! I actually read the Picture of Dorian Gray earlier this year and really enjoyed it :-)
    - Karissa