The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - 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 d...
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Review of "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson"
Stevenson tells us a lot about Victorian society in this book. The upper and middle classes were often superficial and hypocritical with regard to their morality. They thought it was acceptable behaviour to appear respectable on the surface, while at the same time dabbling in various forms of immoral behaviour. In the book, much of the clandestine behaviour occurs when it is foggy or dark, which helps to imply the hidden nature of their immoral behaviour.
Poverty and squalor were part of everyday life for the lower classes in the cities of Victorian England. The poor were often desperate so turned to criminal activities. The upper classes thought of criminals as very different from themselves, almost a different species. Stevenson implies this by his descriptions of Mr Hyde as being "savage" and "ape-like".
It is interesting that there are only two female characters, and each of these only has a minor part to play - the child who is trampled by Hyde, and the maid servant who witnesses the brutal murder of Sir Danvers Carew. This lack of female characters illustrates the low importance given to women in Victorian society, and would probably have seemed quite normal to someone reading this book, when it was originally published. A reader in 2008 might have more difficulty with a book which is imbalanced in favour of male characters
The dual nature of man, as shown in the characters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is not just a Victorian concept, but I think it was particularly relevant to that time where supposedly respectable people were often not what they seemed. It remains very relevant today however, as often seemingly respectable public figures are exposed as having indulged in behavior unacceptable to society. The dual nature of man is therefore probably a timeless concept.
The Victorians were confused about the scientific discoveries which were being made at that time, which often seemed to conflict with their more traditional religious beliefs e.g. Darwins theory of evolution versus God as creator of life. Dr Jekyll would be seen by a Victorian reader as a reckless scientist who is meddling in God's work of creation, and the malevolent Mr Hyde would be the inevitable result of unnecessary experimentation. Today's reader would perhaps be more sympathetic with Dr Jekyll, as we are nowadays more comfortable with science and that to make progress, experimentation is necessary. It is likely however that someone reading the book in 2008 would still class Dr Jekyll's form of experimentation as unethical, as cloning is seen as today.
'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' fits well into the gothic genre. It is a tale of the darker side of man, death, evil and horror. The description of the murder of Danvers Carew is particularly horrific - "with ape-like fury he was trampling his victim underfoot, hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered".
It was written at a time when Victorians were concerned about the changes in society due to the industrial revolution and scientific discoveries. People were scared of where science could be leading them. It is a fantasy and fulfils the need which exists to escape from a world controlled by logic and science, and indulge our emotions. That need exists today perhaps as much as in Victorian times.
Product Information : The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
Manufacturer's product descriptionThe 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. There was something strange in my sensations, something indescribably new and, from its very novelty, incredibly sweet. I felt younger, lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness, a current of disordered sensual images running like a millrace in my fancy, a solution of the bonds of obligation, an unknown but not an innocent freedom of the soul. I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine. I stretched out my hands, exulting in the freshness of these sensations; and in the act, I was suddenly aware that I had lost in stature...
EAN: 9781902407449, 9789626349663
Publisher: Waverley Books, Naxos AudioBooks
Type: Fiction, Audio Book
Genre: Graphic Novel, Classics, Children
Title: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
All Authors: Robert Louis Stevenson,Cam Kennedy,Alan Grant
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
ISBN: 190240744X, 0531002853; 1406941670; 1598185233, 9626349662
Listed on Ciao since: 02/11/2009