Well here it is… my first review! I’m not promising that this review will be the best thing you ever read, but here you are reading my writing and I am grateful. So, sit back and enjoy- which is something I am not doing as I write this because a GIANT –and by GIANT I mean COLOSSAL-spider has graced me with its presence, looming in the corner. I guess it sets the gothic theme but it is also distracting me and this review needs to be completed before Bake-Off…
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, R.L. Stevenson, Wordsworth Classics, Hertfordshire, 1993
I started reading this novel because it was part of my summer reading for my third year at university. Starting Monday, I will be doing a module named ‘Gothic Narratives’ which includes the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and of course Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I had occasionally heard a few things about Stevenson’s story and I had seen some of the BBC’s series adaptation.
Dr Henry Jekyll seeks to find himself and becomes faced with a horrifying dual personality, which he learns isn’t all as astounding as it seems. The narrative is explored by three different perspectives and it has a really interesting effect. I enjoyed getting to know the first narrator, Utterson, and how he gradually learns more and more about his old friend Jekyll. I feel like we are discovering all these strange encounters with him. I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would, as you are constantly trying to work out what is going on between these two strange men. On the other hand, I did feel like there could have been more dramatic scenes with more inciting incidents. The letter from Jekyll, which changes narrative to him, could have been much more intriguing, however it did explain a lot of the story which was fulfilling as a reader. The book does hold some exciting scenes, especially when Utterson seems to add everything up and comes round to find out what is wrong with his old friend. Utterson and Poole soon realise it is Hyde behind the cabinet and break down the door, ‘Poole swung the axe over his shoulder; the blow shook the house’ (pg 32 The Last Night).
Originally, putting aside what I already knew about the book, I assumed that Hyde knew something personal about Jekyll and that is why he was willing to give Hyde everything. The book interestingly changed my mind when Jekyll continued to change personality and disappear… a lot. I then thought Jekyll had Schizophrenia. I assumed his change of mood and constant need to leave, was a form of disability. Like me, I think the audience are eager to know what is wrong with this man, what is his connection to Hyde and why they both seem to lurk in the shadows of the book, yet both play on it as main characters. There is constant links to people thinking Hyde is ugly. We are urged to think why Hyde is so disliked just by his appearance, ‘there is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable.’ (pg 7 Story of the Door)
Overall, I think the book is brilliantly set out. The narrative is my favourite part, it is unique and helps the story explain itself. I enjoyed the way we learn about the curious relationship between Jekyll and Hyde. The narrative and story does have its weak points were the plot is over-described and is unnecessarily long. All negatives aside, it was a good read and I did enjoy the story. I cannot wait to delve inside the hidden meanings and study it on Monday.
Hope this didn’t send you to sleep- but hurrah– my first review is complete. I am now starting to read Dracula -Bram Stoker, so all you vampire fans, stay tuned! Please feel free to comment or message me about what you thought of the book, or the review or even my blog. Any feedback is good feedback.
Thanks for reading!