Title: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. At first they seem to be different persons, but later it is revealed that they are the same person, who can alter himself into another appearance.
About the book:
-edition: Blackbirds 1995 Nr. 4.
-number of pages: 80
-first printed in: 1886
Biography + Bibliography: (copied from the last pages of the book) By Ton heuvelmans
ABOUT THE WRITER AND HIS WORK
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and MrHyde (1886) has gone down in literary history as the
classical work about Good and Evil. It is certainly not the only book to discuss this subject: most master-pieces of world literature in one way or anothet deal with the good and the bad in man, or they deal with love, but more often than not this amounts to the same thing.
The Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson (Edinburgh 1850 Samoa 1894) wrote a moral tale about man's struggle against evil, which on publication hecame immensely popular, not in the last place because priests and ministers waved it about from their pul-pits as a frightening example of how evil works in man. And now, more than a century later,jekyll and Hyde is still a familiar catch-word, even among those who have never read the book.
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in a wealthy, middle-class Scottish family. His father and uncles were designers and builders of lighthouses and the Stevensons were well-known figures in the fashionable bourgeois circles of the time. Life was determined by the strict norms and conventions of Victorian morals, but in Prot-estant Scotland Calvinism affected everyday life in an even more oppressive way. Young Stevenson thus grew up in the relative wealth of the affluent middle class, but likewise in the Calvinist awareness of man's sinfulness.
Although as a young man he rebelled against his strict father as well as against the hypocrisy of the Edinburgh bourgeois mental-ity, the Calvinist sense of sin, and the stem belief that evil lurks everywhere and cannot be conquered, influenced Stevenson's life. His lifelong fascination with the ways of evil - visible in most of his literary works - finds its explanation here.
Already as a child Stevenson suffered from tuberculosis. It ex-plains why at a later age he decided not to follow in his father's footsteps, but to leave cold and damp Scotland for warmer and sunnier places like Bournemouth, the United States, and eventually Samoa in the Pacific. In order to relieve Robert Louis' sickbed his father often told him exciting stories about long journeys and dan-gerous adventures. His nurse added her share of moralistic tales, about sinful creatures who refused to repent and thus headed for the agonies of eternal punishment in hell. lt stands to reason that all this story-telling made quite an impression on the sensitive and feverish child. Nor is it surprising that Stevenson's literary talent, after a childhood of exciting stories and tall tales, followed the paths of adventurous travels and romantic places on the one hand and the evil in man on the other. The former resuited in Treasure Island, the latter in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
After a good deal of unnoticed short stories Treasure Island was published in 1883. This classic adventure story, about Long John Silver and his buccaneers and the scarch for captain Flint's treasure on a tropical island, brought Stevenson fame. Kidnapped (1886) confirmed Stevenson's reputation as a writer of unputdownable adventure stories.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a different kettle of fish. It came to Ste-venson in a dream. One night, when his wife Fanny had to wake him from a terrible nightmare, he reacted with irritation. He had been in the middle of 'a fine bogy tale'. He wrote it down on the spot, with all the gory details, because he thought it would please his audience. After his wife had vetoed it the next day, Stevenson tried it again, keeping the gothic character of the story intact to excite his readers. In the second version the accent of the tale was more on the human element of its characters. Evil was given a personification: it was no longer a tendency to sin which only very rarely, at the cost of great effort and agony, may be suppressed, hut a human being of flesh and blood. Jekyll is the Good Guy, Hyde the Bad One. That is how simply Stevenson draws the dividing line. The simple act of taking a drug changes one character into the other at their own discretion.
Contemporaries of Stevenson's have criticized him for high-lighting the possibility that evil will triumph. With his background Stevenson believed in the power of evil, but not in its omnipotence: man is at least partly responsible for his own fate. Jekyll is not completely good and righteous, because he is 'only' human. He is more than a character from a morality play, representing only one human characteristic. As a matter of fact Jekyll is as hypocritical as the Edinburgh bourgeoisie whom Stevenson knew so well. Jekyll teads a double life-. on the sutf-ace he lives for fame -and an immac-ulate reputation, but undemeath he cannot resist the temptation to visit seedy bars and houses of ill repute. In all probability these are the 'irregularities' which make jekyll decide to banish the evil which he feels festering inside him, but which he wishes to keep within easy reach. If he was so righteous, why didn't he swear off these 'irregularities'? To Dr Jekyll Mr Hyde was the alibi to be a monster and at the same time keep up his reputation among his influential friends.
Why does jekyll take the 'Hyde-drug'? No doubt to be able to wallow in low pleasures. But also because it is pleasant to go in for something which is forbidden. Stevenson was familiar with this aspect of Calvinism: no temptation is as strong as to do something forbidden because it is forbidden. There are those who claim that Evil will triumph over every-thing and that this is shown in the tragic history of poor Dr Jekyll. He is the victim of the devil Hyde, who corrupts all that is good in him. But isn’t that exactly what jekyll wants? Hyde is getting strong-er, appears even without the drug, is taking over. But not after Jekyll has repeatedly summoned him to do so. 'He that touched pitch shall be defiled'; he who takes drugs runs the risk of addiction, and addiction inereases as the user loses selfcontrol and reason.
Jekyll has become addicted to Hyde; he does not know how to kick the habit and consequently dies of an overdose.
Genre: Psychological novel
Motto / Subtitle:
-subtitle = the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
To Katharina de Mattos
It’s ill to loose the bands that God decreed to bind;
Still will we be the children of the heather and the wind;
Far away from home, O it’s still for you and me
That the broom is blowing bonnie in the north country.
Mr Utterson: A lawyer, Dr Jekyll’s best friend and the leading character of the book.
Dr Jekyll: He is a long tall doctor, he has found a drug to change himself into another person,
who is known as Mr Hyde. He is the personification of the good.
Mr Hyde: A strange looking, small, evil man. He is much younger than Dr Jekyll, but he does weird things, for example trampling over small children for fun. He is the personification of evil.
Dr Lanyon: He is also a docter and also a good friend of Dr Jekyll and Mr Utterson.
He is an old man. He dies from the shock caused by Dr. Jekyll, who showed him that he could transform himself into another person.
Poole: He is Dr Jekyll’s loyal butler, who has worked for him for twenty years.
Sir Danvers Carew: He is murdered by Hyde.
Mr. Enfield: Mr Utterson’s cousin and friend. He walks with him every sunday.
Mr Guest: Mr Utterson’s head clerk
Mr Newcomen: Inspector of Scotland Yard: Investigates the Carew Murder Case.
Bradshaw: He is one of Dr. Jekyll’s clerks. He helps Mr Utterson getting in Jekyll’s cabinet.
(that’s by the way the only thing he does in the whole book, he is a real minor character.)
Ordering of time:
Chronological, exept for the letters at the end, there can be found some flashbacks.
The story takes place in Scotland, in the jear 18-- (this indication of time appears several times, during the story)
In this book, a shifting narrater is used to tell the story. Most of the time there is a omniscient narrator, but sometimes a first person narrator is used to reflect the sphere of a letter.
The language wich is used is an old-fashioned kind of Literary English, wich was normally for the time the book was written. A good example of this is the text at the back of the book:
..., and as 1 looked, there came, 1 thought, a change - he seemed to swell - his face became suddenly black, and the features seemed to melt and alter - and the next moment 1 had sprung to my feet and leaped back against the wal], my arm raised to shield me from that prodigy, my mind submerged in terror. ‘O God!' 1 screamed, and 'O God!' again and again; for there before my eyes - pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death - there stood Henry Jekyll!
The author wants to tell the reader about good and evil, and the fight of the one against the other. He wants to make clear that evil is very powerful.
The story of the door: Mr Enfield tells Mr Utterson a strange story about his memories relating to an old door, wich is the cabinet door of Dr Jekyll. They agree not to talk about it again.
Search for Mr Hyde: Mr Utterson speaks with Dr Lanyon about Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Mr Utterson searches Mr Hyde till he finds him, and speaks with him.
Dr Jekyll was quite at ease: Mr Utterson promises to Dr Jekyll to help Hyde if he wasn’t there anymore.
The Carew Murder Case: Sir Danvers Carew gets killed by Mr Hyde, Mr Newcomen thinks he has him in his hand (to catch him).
Incident of the letter: Dr Jeckyll receives Mr Utterson in his cabinet after Carew got murdered, and gives him a letter from Mr Hyde. Guest, Utterson’s clerk, notices that the hands of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are nearly the same.
Remarkable incident of Dr Lanyon. At first Dr Jekyll is doing well, but soon he gets under influence of Mr Hyde again. Mr Utterson visits Dr Lanyon and notices that he looks as if he is going to die soon, and what happens? Dr Lanyon dies. Mr Utterson gets his will with in it the will of Dr Jekyll.
Incident at the window: Mr Enfield and Mr Utterson pass by Dr Jekyll and see him kicking the bucket behind the window.
The last night: Poole calls Mr Utterson at Dr Jekyll’s, because he and the staff are very afraid that something is seriously wrong . They go to the cabinet to hear if Dr Jekyll is there, but they hear it’s Hyde. They rush in, but they are too late: Hyde is dead by suicide. This chapter is the end of the real story: The rest of the book is filled with narrations of Lanyon and Jekyll, in wich the last parts of the puzzle are added to explain all the incidents mentioned in the book.
Dr Lanyon’s Narrative: Dr Lanyon writes he got a letter from Dr Jekyll in which he asked to get some stuff from the latter’s cabinet, to take them home, and to wait for a messenger.
The messenger was Mr Hyde. He took a drug and he changed into Dr Jekyll. He explains everything to him.
Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case: In this letter Dr Jekyll tells the whole story of his life and his scientific discovery’s, and how Mr Hyde conquered him in the fight for existance.
My Own review:
I chose this book for several reasons. I read a couple of books and this was the one I liked best. It was also useful for my booklist, because it is a classic story. When I read it, I liked Dr Jekyll best, because he is a real gentleman and because he is the personification of the good, he is very kind and professional. Mr Hyde, of course, was the person I especially disliked, because he is a killer, a madman and very evil-looking. All the other characters, exept Jekyll, feeled a kind of repulsion as soon as they saw him, so I presume I wouldn’t have liked him to.
The whole book gave me a kind of creepy feeling, particularly the “Incident at the Window” chapter, I think that’s because you don’t know what happens to Dr Jekyll yet. The part I especially liked, was as I think the last two chapters, because all parts of the puzzle fall together. There is like a relief if you read that Hyde is formed out of Dr Jekyll’s body, because it was only there that I could say for myself: “It’s his own fault”. Usually I don’t like the first part of the book, because you don’t know enough yet to make a good imagination of what kind of persons they all are, usually I find them boring, and that’s how it was this time, to.
As Robert Stevenson wants to tell the reader, evil’s powerful. Some people in his time thought he meant evil cannot be conquered, but I don’t feel that way. It was not wat he meant, by the way. I think you can conquer evil by happiness. The last question, am I left with any thougts, or questions after having read the book, can be answered by a simple “No” because in the last two chapters everything is fully explained. The book has a closed ending.
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