Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

THE STRANGE CASE OF DOCTOR JEKYLL AND MISTER HYDE: A story worthy of being one of the pillars of classic horror

Of the three most enduring horror icons, I have only read Dracula and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for I have not yet found a good hardcopy of Frankenstein. I actually find Dracula mediocre and excessively inflated; and I have heard from reliable sources that Frankenstein suffers from many writing problems as well. The reason why I am saying this is that, out of the three, I think The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a breath of fresh air, for it actually restores my faith on these ‘pillars of classic horror’.

This book is about the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll, who concocts a potion that turns him into the loathsome Mr. Hyde. Unlike Dracula and Frankenstein, it is a very short book. But this feature doesn’t hinder it to have good quality. If anything, it has made the story direct to the point. The story just doesn’t turn to unnecessary directions -- and this is always a good thing, at least for me.

The storytelling is interesting. It effectively gives the story a suspenseful atmosphere right from the very first chapter. This sinister air has melded well with the mystery the book imposes, and it has been maintained all throughout. If the story hasn’t been revealed to me automatically by society, I would have found this mystery to be way more intriguing. I could only imagine the suspense of turning a page to unravel the grand mystery before me.

The writing style is also worth noting. Considering that this has been written in 1886, I am expecting a complicated sentence structure and a deep vocabulary. Even though these are true features of the book, they have not rendered the book hard to read. In fact, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is very easy to read compared to other 19th century works. This, however, does not mean that the writing is simplistic. The author just has a voice that is not overly complicated and boring.

            As for the main character, I find him interesting, for he is very open to psychological analysis -- and this is the real juice of the book. The book in general tackles the idea of dual personality. It shows that even someone who is looked up to by society, in this case, Dr. Jekyll, has his own evils inside him, or perhaps a completely different self, as shown in the book as Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll is basically a man who has all the necessary qualifications to a worthy Victorian life, but, deep inside, he actually wants to free himself of these noble attributes and indulge himself with traits that are more animalistic.

This theme has made this short book very complex, and, I must add, that there is also a negative consequence into this. Considering the length of the work, I find this theme to be prematurely executed. The book could have been a lot longer to dive deeper into Dr. Jekyll’s split personality, but what I get is a single chapter where everything is revealed. This last chapter, even though it tackles a good POV of Dr. Jekyll, is very open to expansion. Perhaps if the book were written in a full POV of Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, it would have a lot more depth.

Other than that, I have seen no other problem with the book. I’m not saying that the book is near to perfect, but it clearly shows itself as a work worthy of being a classic. I could see the reason why it has surpassed the test of time. Surely, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, together with its themes, will be read in many more years to come. And it will continue to fascinate readers with the concept of the duality of man.

No comments:

Post a Comment