Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reflections: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Brad Howes shares his thoughts on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:

"I like short novels (or should I call them “novellas”?).  I appreciate an author that can grab a reader, tell a complete story, and create a satisfactory resolution in a couple of hours.  Perhaps it’s my inability to keep attention for long enough to enjoy the epic classics, but when I can finish a book in a day, I am pleased.  Stevenson doesn’t bog us down with minor details here; rather, he builds suspense immediately and moves the story along quickly.  Moreover, the language is in the beautiful British style that just cannot be taught. 

The classic takes a few different forms throughout the text.  The body of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is written in first person from the point of view of Dr. Jekyll’s lawyer, Mr. Utterson.  Utterson suspects foul play as a result of Jekyll’s request that he execute a will conveying everything to a mysterious Mr. Hyde upon  Jekyll’s death or disappearance.  My favorite line from the book expresses Utterson’s determination: “If he be Mr. Hyde...I shall be Mr. Seek.“   

After  Utterson’s informal, and eerie, investigation is complete, we get a short explanation of events from a mutual friend of Jekyll and Utterson.  The story concludes with a lengthy letter written by  Jekyll himself, explaining the transformations that have taken over his life.  While the letter does provide closure and answers, it’s not very exciting.  In fact, Utterson’s discovery could have been the end of the novella—had it been, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the book less. 

Bottom line:  A must-read.  Even if you hate it, it was only three hours of your day wasted.  And you won’t hate it."

No comments:

Post a Comment