The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
4 stars – I liked it, it was good
After finishing Dracula [see my review of this book here], I wasn’t sure what book was next from my TBR shelf. While browsing my Spotify account for other audio readings of classic books, I found Great Audiobooks, in which I found a 3-hour reading of this book. I listened to it in a single day, but I forgot to write my review before it went out of my head, so I decided to listen to it again.
Read: Oct. 3, 2022 & Nov. 28, 2022.
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Everything I Expected and More
The story follows a lawyer, Mr. Utterson, who is friends with Dr. Jekyll, and who is concerned for his friend as the mysterious Mr. Hyde, who is set to inherit all of Dr. Jekyll’s money should he die or “disappear,” causes injury and destruction to the people of their town. After the murder of Sir Danvers, Mr. Hyde disappears, and Mr. Utterson is assured that he is gone forever, but Dr. Jekyll disappears again, and Mr. Utterson is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The first time I learned about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was in a Scooby-Doo Where Are You? episode from 1970, Nowhere to Hyde. Because of this, I already knew the “hidden mystery” of the book, which is hardly a mystery nowadays for literature enthusiasts, but I love how the mystery is playing out anyway. I feel like this mystery—the mystery around such supernatural elements in literature—is lacking nowadays, as I am also reading a book with vampires and werewolves which are as natural to the world as dogs and cats. I am a reader of urban fantasy, meaning I like it when an author is writing in the modern day (at least for them) and have regular people interacting with these supernatural elements and discovering the secret world that exists beyond their knowledge. Dracula and this book fulfil that perfectly, as do modern stories such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, in which the characters discover these supernatural beings, and it weaves into their everyday life.
The entirety of the book is from the perspective of Mr. Utterson the lawyer and highlights his discoveries of the peculiarities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He isn’t much as far as narrators go, and he’s mostly an observer figuring out a mystery. He’s more of a character in the story than Nick Carraway was in The Great Gatsby [see my review of that book here], though he plays much the same role as Nick in the book. The strange events surrounding Dr. Jekyll, his friend, worry him, and so Mr. Utterson sets about solving the mystery of Mr. Hyde, believing that blackmail is involved.
The other characters include, very obviously, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but also Utterson’s cousin Mr. Enfield, his friend Dr. Lanyard, and Jekyll’s butler Mr. Poole, all of whom play important roles in the novel.
This is very simple writing, by which I mean that most people can understand it, though there are some older words that may not be familiar to all. The version of the book that I have (see above) includes footnotes for such words, explaining the meaning, which I found immensely helpful. It’s a classic, first published in 1886 (shortly before Dracula, which was published in 1897), which shows in the writing, and though I will take a break from classics for the last few books I’m reading in 2022, I appreciate the style; it’s a welcome reprieve from the more casual tones of today’s literature.
This is a nice, short book that I enjoyed reading the first time, and even more so the second. I could listen to it at over double speed in audiobook format and follow along with ease, so it only took me about an hour to listen through to the end.
I highly recommend this book, even for general reading, as it’s one of those books that’s so ingrained into our culture (the ideas seen in all types of media) that to truly appreciate it you must read the original text. I wouldn’t say this book is one of my five-stars, as the last chapter, which explains everything in full, drags on just a bit too long for those who’ve already figured it all out, but I would definitely reread it without complaint.
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