A spine-tingling psychological horror
Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic on the dichotomy of goodness and wickedness in human nature arose from the depths of his personal consciousness, as it is said that his partner woke him during one of his nightmares after hearing his screeches.
This masterpiece was written prior to Freud’s identification of the ego and id, which is groundbreaking in itself. Stevenson’s thrilling book exemplifies his clear understanding of the internal struggles of personality before they were even given a name.
The book opens with Dr. Henry Jekyll’s Will, in which we discover that if he goes missing or ends up dead, his wealth would be transferred to Mr. Edward Hyde. We learn about Jekyll and Hyde from the lawyer Mr. Utterson.
Gabriel Utterson, who looks into strange occurrences involving his friends, the decent Dr. Henry Jekyll, as well as the enigmatic and evil Edward Hyde, serve as the storyline’s point of view character. Mr. Enfield claims that Hyde is a despicable person who purposefully knocks a kid over and steps on her. However, this merely marks the commencement of his heinous behavior.
Strange events begin to occur over and over again, including the mysterious actions of Dr. Jekyll, as well as the bizarre and immediate repugnance that everyone feels towards Mr. Hyde. Utterson and many others, including their friend Dr. Lanyon, look into these events in order to comprehend Mr. Jekyll’s situation.
One can’t help but wonder how two people (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), so different in character and temperament are linked. Dr. Jekyll seems to be a decent person who is extremely worried. But then why is Dr. Jekyll safeguarding Mr. Hyde? Whilst we follow Mr. Utterson, readers explore the dark secret that links them through the crafty use of personal letters written by Jekyll and Hyde.
The plot examines the conflicted nature of people as well as the effects of trying to give in to urges by exploring your sinister side.
The central idea of the novel is that humans contain a dual disposition, though this idea doesn’t fully come to light until the final chapter, which tells the entire Jekyll-Hyde psychological tale. As a consequence, we don’t consciously discuss the idea of a two-dimensional personality until we’ve read the entire book and confirmed that happens, such as Hyde’s wrongdoings and his eventual eclipse of Jekyll.
The writing not only makes the dichotomy of human beings its centerpiece but also compels us to think about the characteristics of this and weigh different theories while analyzing each of the chapters.
Jekyll claims that “man is not truly one, but truly two”, and he sees the human spirit as a place where an “angel” as well as a “fiend”, each vying for supremacy, engage in combat. Hyde appears, yet he’s got no angelic match. His drug, which he wished would split and decontaminate each aspect, only brings about the evil side. Once freed, Hyde gradually seizes control until Jekyll vanishes. One begins to question the “angel” after the tale as if a person is half angel as well as half-fiend, where is the angel persona?
We can hypothesize that maybe the angel completely takes a back seat to Jekyll’s devil. Alternatively, it’s possible that Jekyll is wrong on that point and that man is not, in fact, “truly two”, but rather, first and above all else, the primitive creature encapsulated in Hyde, which is tentatively subdued by society, rules, and conscience. This argument holds that the drug simply removes the surface layer of civilization, revealing the true nature of man.
Hyde is portrayed as being particularly animalistic throughout the book. For instance, he is ugly as well as hairy and behaves instinctively instead of rationally. To support this argument, he is referred to by Utterson as nothing more than a “troglodyte”.
However, if Hyde were a simple animal, he wouldn’t enjoy crime so much. In fact, he appears to carry out violent acts against helpless victims for no other reason than pure enjoyment. Instead of being amoral, he comes across as purposefully and joyfully immoral. It appears as though he is aware of the ethical law and revels in breaking it. Hyde additionally seems strangely at home in the city for an animalistic being. These observations suggest that maybe human civilization has a shadowy side as well.
Stevenson clearly states that human beings have two facets, but he leaves it unclear as to what exactly these facets are. They might be made up of evil and morality; they might stand for one’s primal nature and the façade that human civilization has constructed. Stevenson makes the book more complex by asking us to think for ourselves.
Another interesting component in the book is that maintaining one’s good name becomes crucial throughout the tale. The fact that honorable men like Utterson as well as Enfield minimize gossip at any and all costs because they view it as a major reputation destroyer shows how prevalent this sense of morality is.
Comparable to this, once Utterson suspects Jekyll of being a victim of blackmail at first and then of protecting Hyde from the police later, he keeps his fears to himself because a crucial component of being a trustworthy companion to Jekyll is really being able to conceal his secrets and preserve his public image. The significance of a good name in the book is a reflection of the value placed on outward appearances, facades, and layers, which frequently conceal a hazy ugly side.
Utterson, in keeping with Victorian society, insists on sustaining Jekyll’s good name as well as the appearance of order as well as civility throughout much of the book, despite sensing a despicable truth hidden beneath.
The characters’ silence is yet another element of the book that’s fascinating. Characters frequently struggle or refuse to express themselves. Whether they intentionally end or avoid specific discussions, or they appear unable to explain a sickening perception, including the physical attributes of Hyde. Enfield and Utterson stop talking about Hyde during the first chapter because they dislike gossip, and Utterson keeps his doubts about Jekyll to himself as he looks into his client’s situation.
Additionally, neither Jekyll throughout his last revelation nor the third-person narrator throughout the remainder of the book, ever divulge any information about Hyde’s obscene actions and hidden vices. It’s vague whether these narrative pauses are the consequence of limited use of language or deliberate omissions.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel ranks among the most captivating and intriguing books he has written, and it’s considerably different compared to his other writings. Although it is rather unsettling, it is such a gripping tale that it is hard to put down.
The 1886 novel, which features an unsettling storyline and such in-depth character analysis, is presumably one of the earliest works of its kind, which is rather commendable. However, this novel is rather challenging to read (language wise) in today’s world where everyone seeks out straightforward reading material. Apart from that, this is a brilliant timeless classic of its genre.
Stevenson’s book skillfully mixes up facets of psychological horror, crime, and philosophical genres and utilizes letters to give Utterson a way to find the intimate link between Jekyll and Hyde. It is brilliantly structured, reflecting the essence of the tale and the catastrophic wrongs that have been committed throughout.
Readers of this fascinating, twisted, yet unquestionably thrilling book will be shocked and taken aback by the revelations that occur, and it is unquestionably a novel worth reading.
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Verdict - 10/10