#690 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis StevensonThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

One Mr. Utterson finds himself in a strange turn of events. He hears of a man named Mr. Hyde. This man is a strange-looking person accused of assaulting a little girl and murdered a member of the parliament. Mr. Hyde seems like an altogether evil person, but somehow he’s closely associated with one Dr. Jekyll, who Mr. Utterson knows of and is even on somewhat friendly terms with.

A few letters are delivered into the hands of various people in relation to Utterson, one of them being a mutual friend of Dr. Jekyll and Utterson. There is one letter that was supposed to be opened if Dr. Jekyll ever disappeared or died. One day Utterson and another man make the trip to Dr. Jekyll’s house because the servants are pretty sure he’s gone. What they find there is not Dr. Jekyll. It’s Mr. Hyde and he commits suicide right before the two men get into the room. There they see Mr. Hyde as a dead man and suppose that Dr. Jekyll may still be alive somewhere, but there is no luck in that.

The letter is finally opened. There is an account of what has happened. The mutual friend has had a falling-out with Dr, Jekyll because of his science experiments. He details an occasion when Dr. Jekyll sent some items to the man’s house and mixed them together and transformed right before his eyes into some hideous creature. The hideous creature would be Dr. Jekyll.

Dr. Jekyll’s letter tells the story of how he came to be Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll was a scientist, and as such, experimented with all manner of things. He was able to create a potion, that when drunk, transformed him into another person, well not another person entirely. This other person was the bad stuff inside of Jekyll himself. This other person was ugly and misshapen, younger, and generally not as well-formed. This is because Dr. Jekyll was not necessarily a bad person, but he had bad in him, just like anybody. The story goes on to tell how Dr. Jekyll soon could not control Mr. Hyde getting out and he could not replicate the potion to keep him away. Ultimately, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde killed himself because he could not handle the wicked side of himself getting out so easily and terrorizing people. This is how Dr. Jekyll came to an end.

What I liked

This is sort of like the quintessential “mad scientist” story. Dr. Jekyll wasn’t “mad” as in crazy, but he was a little crazy. One has to be a little crazy to experiment with such unknown and terrible things. Would you turn up some weird concoction, that fizzed and bubbled, and drink it, not knowing what it would do? Some of you wouldn’t and some of you would. Those of you who would, are the mad scientists of this readership. The mad scientists are the people willing to perform the experiment for the sake of experimenting and to satisfy curiosity. Being a mad scientist isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be. Sometimes, people who can be classified as so-called mad scientists take things too far. They take the experiment to extremes. “Maybe that small amount of gas really could kill a lot of monkeys, wouldn’t it be interesting to find out?”–this is how science goes too far in relation to our “mad scientists.” The thing is, this hypothetical scientist may not kill a monkey otherwise. Maybe they wouldn’t harm one hair on a monkey’s head, but when science is involved, don’t ask questions, just experiment.

Dr. Jekyll’s story has been repeated and repeated through the years. The version I remember most is the one with Bugs Bunny. I think the cartoon even got the color changes of the potion correct. This story is a part of our culture.

What I didn’t like

I was confused by the last part of this book. I’m not sure exactly how it tied to the rest of the story and I may be missing something. I get that it ties in morally, but where does it come from otherwise? Is it just there as a morality tie in?

Overall

Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a joy it is!…what?!

Weigh In

If you could unleash the bad part of yourself into a different person, how much would that person look like you?

Would you drink a strange, fizzy potion, not knowing what it would do to you?

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