Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lunchtime read: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and other stories

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
This short story is a great companion to Frankenstein. Part of the reason is because of the details it does share rather than those it decides to keep secret. So for instance you do get a rough explanation of how Jekyll turns into Hyde and an explanation of the thought behind the process.

But there is something else that also hangs over this story and you start to understand why it was such a source of intrigue and speculation around the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. This story appeared in 1886 and Jack started his murders just two years later. The private rooms that Hyde uses as a springboard to run out and disturb Londoners and in one case murder one reminds you of the sort of rooms where the Ripper’s victims were found.

But getting back to the story the book is about not only the dangers of man trying to conqueror nature but also about the attempt to banish evil. The irony is that evil is stronger and in the end Hyde overwhelms Jekyll and the doctor is left pondering on the fact that he did succeed in dividing himself but did so at the expense of the good.

Hyde is smaller than Jekyll, uglier and much more aggressive. But he illustrates the central point that there is a monster in all of us. Frankenstein may have created a monster but Jekyll manages to pull one out of himself.

Again a figures standing to one side of the action is used as a narration device and it is letters to the narrator that the feelings of the deceased are expressed.

More from this collection tomorrow…

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