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The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert L. Stevenson - Review

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

 It's quite weird how the story came to be: according to Osbourne's account, Stevenson wrote the first draft of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with remarkable speed. The main details of the story were given to him in a dream, and in three days the first draft of the novel was complete. But after reading it to his wife he set fire to it and started again (quite drastic, I would say). He then spent some months to polish the work we still read and enjoy nowadays.

Are we good because we want to be, or are we good because we just don't want to be punished?

Surely Stevenson did ask himself the same question while writing this iconic novel. The theme of the dual personality was a novelty in the 19th century, but still feels contemporary nowadays. He was able to portrait in Hyde, Jekyll's alter ego, the dark side of man which civilization has striven to submerge. In fact, as you probably already known, Jekyll and Hyde are the same person and the two entity can not be separated. From my reading, Hyde is just a mask that Jekyll puts on to dissociate himself from the terrible acts he commits, it's his way of freeing himself of the restrictions dictated by the society. With Hyde's identity he can vent all is violent and dark instinct, but Jekyll doesn't disappear he is always there. The problem comes when Jekyll becomes slowly more addicted to his other self. Neither can survive with or without the other, there is only one solution....

It's an exquisite novel, in contrast with most of the Gothic Romances of the time, here there is no love and frilly romance, just friendship and male partnership. I was glad of that, since the classic love-tales tend to be a bit boring after a while. 
I founded the writing style quite peculiar, at time convulsive as probably is character psychology, but at the same time simple and quick to read - less than 100 pages. As in the majority of the novels of the time the characters are still a bit empty shells, that stand more for a moral ideal than a complex individual. Still the story is pleasant and engaging.


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