Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Read: July, 2016
Genre: Gothic, Horror
‘All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil’
Published as a shilling shocker, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the idea of the split personality. The story of respectable Dr Jekyll’s strange association with damnable young man Edward Hyde; the hunt through fog-bound London for a killer; and the final revelation of Hyde’s true identity is a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil.
Before reading this I already knew what the “big reveal” was – that Jekyll and Hyde were different versions of the same person. It’s kind of tricky not to know that – Jekyll and Hyde is a popular and well known classic, synonymous with the idea of “split personality” as the summary says.
But does knowing this detract from the reading experience? When this was first published, the fact that Jekyll and Hyde were one person was not common knowledge. Those first readers would have stumbled across that revelation along with the narrator, Mr. Utterson – arguably how it was intended to be read by Stevenson.
On the one hand, I feel that if I had gone into this book knowing absolutely nothing about the story I would have found the mystery element of it a lot more… well, mysterious. The clever parallels Stevenson draws between Jekyll and Hyde, the hints, the build-up would have had a better pay-off.
On the other hand, I might not have been able to appreciate those things as much if I hadn’t known what they were alluding to. So, really I don’t think it impacted my reading experience that negatively.
Overall I really enjoyed Jekyll and Hyde – it’s short, fast-paced, and unsettling in a good way as Stevenson raises interesting ideas about the nature of good/evil in humanity.
“It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it. ”
Has anyone else read this one? Tell me what you thought!