Wide Reading: The strange case of Dr jekyl and Mr hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

“The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then these agonies began swiftly to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great sickness.” The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr hyde is a riveting novel narrated by a lawyer named Mr Utterson and his case following his close friend Dr Jekyll. It’s an interesting story following the split of our psychique and the good and evil that can both live together with in. It explores the feelings and emotions that can have complete different personas when conveying them. Hints of scientific impossibility mixed with an interesting combination of mental traits. The split of bipolar personalities into two seperate personas with in one body.

The Story begins with Mr Hyde running over a child at Midnight in downtown London. Later the family of the child receive a check from Dr jekyll. Recently after that incident Dr jekyll changes his will. Mr Utterson believes that Dr Jekyll is being blackmailed by Mr Hyde to include him in his will. Mr Utterson still thinking that Jekyll and Hyde are two different people asks Jekyll if this is true and is asked to mind his own business. A year later Mr Hyde is involved in incident where he bashed a man with his cane resulting in the man’s death. Mr Utterson is asked in on the case and tells the police he knows where this man lives. He escorts the police to Mr Hyde’s apartment and upon entering, find the cane used to murder the man covered in the blood. Mr Utterson finds that the cane was gifted to Dr Jekyll by himself. Utterson then questions Jekyll once again to find out if he is hiding Hyde. He says that he isn’t. Mr Hyde is not found or seen for months. Jekyll then hands Utterson a letter from Hyde saying that he his gone into hiding. Utterson gets the handwriting of the letter and checked by a clerk and finds that jekyll had forged the letter. Two months later Jekyll had seemed to return to normal but then shuts Utterson out. Utterson visits Dr Lanyon, a friend of Jekyll’s, and finds that he is sick from shock. He dies weeks later. Utterson writes to Jekyll to ask what happened and Jekyll replies that he and Lanyon were no longer friends. Some time later Jekyll and Pool, Dr Jekyll’s servant, met and Pool had said that he had heard a different voice in his masters laboratory. They break down the door to find Mr Hyde dead. He had poisoned himself and left an updated version of his will that gave his belongings to Utterson as well as Dr Jekyll’s confession. The confession stated that Jekyll had found a way to split his two conflicting persona’s. He was able to do ;this by mixing drugs and chemicals and when consumed he was able to transform his body into his evil persona, Mr Hyde. He described the joy he felt as Hyde and the gut wrenching guilt that accompanied Jekyll.

The common theme explored is the two sides of the human conscience that jekyll interprets as good and evil. Bipolar disorder is a real world diagnosis also known as manic depression that shares the same characteristics as that of Jekyll and Hyde’s situation. Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects the mood, energy levels, personality and the ability to carry out day to day tasks. The condition isn’t usually described as being a change in one’s personality but more in the behaviour and traits of the individual change dramatically making seem like an alter ego. There is a sense of reality in this novel by considering that the split of personalities of Jekyll, may be related to a real world psychiatric condition. Apart from that, the book is purely fictional based because of the supernatural themes that are described through the physical split between Jekyll and Hyde. Jekyll drinks a concoction of drugs that can only be described as a potion. This ‘potion’ helps split the traits of both personalities and reflect that on their physical embodiments. “It came about that Edward Hyde was so much smaller, slighter, and younger than Henry Jekyll. Even as good shone upon the countenance of the one, evil was written broadly and plainly on the face of the other.” – Dr jekyll. Jekyll had endured something completely impossible with science and had achieved a supernatural accomplishment. He given his evil characteristics a body with in his own. The quote describes the physique of Mr Hyde. He was short and had a different face to that of Jekyll. A supernatural occurrence to solidify a supernatural theme.

Another interesting theme that wasn’t very clear is the assignment of the gothic protagonist and gothic villain. The gothic villain is most definitely Mr Hyde after all the murder he committed although Mr Hyde is a part of Dr Jekyll’s conscience and Jekyll was aware whilst in the form of Hyde. You could argue that Jekyll could be the villain and assume that Hyde and Jekyll are one character. You could argue that Dr Jekyll is the antagonist towards the end of the story. He wants Hyde gone. Towards the end he realises the wrong of Hyde’s actions and wishes to rid himself of him. He is unable and poisons himself to save himself and anyone else from Hyde. Although the narrator, Mr Utterson is the character confronting Hyde and Jekyll and investigating the circumstances if his dilemma. The alter ego’s and change in the characters thoughts is what keeps us from deciding who plays the traditional roles in a gothic story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this text. The narrative was short and punchy and really is a staple in the gothic novel genre. The story can be seen used many different stories in modern entertainment and I can truly say inspired many tales that have encapsulated the minds of many. The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a great book and I recommend it to anyone looking into the gothic genre of novels.

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