The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a book that’s all about the idea. It doesn’t even try to define the characters or the setting. It just starts (at a slow pace) and stops. Not that it’s bad. In fact, the idea would have gotten quite muddled if not for the non-story.
The idea of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is complicated. We all know the basic premise: man has split personality; one side good, one side evil. But there’s more. For one, Jekyll’s split personality existed before the potion was created. His evil side came out every time he indulged himself by doing evil things. The fact that he even created the potion showed that he had a split personality.
Another thing the book likes to stress is that Jekyll’s hypocrisy created Hyde. It never says it outright, but Jekyll was living a secret life. Read between the lines a bit, and you’ll see that by lying about being a great guy, Jekyll became more evil. That’s why Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is also a anti-hypocrisy fable. And that’s why you should always confess if you have any secret sins (1), admit that there’s some evil in you, (2) and try not to make a potion that turns you into Mr. Hyde. Any questions?
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a good book, not for the story, but for the complicated idea of it all. Much like The Time Machine, it’s timeless because the story is so…dull, but the idea gives you something to think about.