Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Bokanmeldelse av Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
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"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was first published by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886. Stevenson was a well educated Scottish author who lived all over the world. He has written famous books like “Treasure Island”, and maybe his best book “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Since then it has been a best-selling horror story. For a century the book has entertained and scared readers of all ages all over the world.
The book starts with Mr. Utterson, a well liked lawyer and his cousin Mr. Enfield walking down the streets of London. Enfield is telling a rather strange story about a certain Mr. Hyde. He lives in Soho and once he beat up a little girl after she had ran into him on a street corner. It had been a terrible scene, but Enfield had forced him to pay a compensation to the little girls family. The curious thing was that the check was signed by Dr. Henry Jekyll, a highly respected doctor and good friend of Mr. Utterson.

Later that night Utterson was in low spirits. He had received an envelope containing Dr. Jekyll’s will, telling that in the case of his death he would leave all his possessions to Mr. Hyde. Hyde was looked upon as an evil man, who had not only been involved in other violent episodes but had also been enjoying pleasures like prostitutes. There were also stories that he was terribly ugly.
A fortnight later Utterson attended one of Henry Jekyll’s pleasant dinners. Utterson told Jekyll that he didn’t care much for Hyde and wondered why he had left by will all his belongings to him. Jekyll answered that he had great interest in Hyde and he would be glad if he cared more for him. This answer left Utterson with even more questions.
Almost a year later London was startled by a horrible murder. A servant admiring the moon had witnessed the crime and recognised Mr. Hyde as he unprovoked beat an old man to death. All evidence pointed at Hyde and he was now chased by the police.
Later Utterson visited Jekyll who was a good friend of the murder victim. Jekyll was very sick and depressed. He told Utterson that Hyde probably wouldn’t be seen or heard from anymore. Jekyll also presented him with a letter apparently from Hyde saying that he had escaped. But Utterson couldn’t help noticing that the handwriting in the letter was very similar to Jekyll’s. He found this very odd.
Suddenly one day Jekyll wouldn’t accept Utterson’s visits and after being rejected three times he instead paid Dr. Lanyon (an “enemy” of Jekyll regarding scientific questions) a visit. Lanyon also seemed very sick and something seemed to bother him. He told Utterson, to his surprise, that he was done with Dr. Jekyll and never wanted to see him again.
Three weeks later Lanyon was dead. At his funeral he received an envelope from Lanyon with the words: “Do not open until the death of Dr. Jekyll”. Utterson was shocked.
Some weeks later Utterson received a visit from Poole, Henry Jekyll’s servant. Poole told Utterson that he was very worried about Jekyll. He had been acting very strange not allowing anyone to see him and looking himself up in his cabinet. His voice had also changed and was totally different from the one Poole knew. Late at night he could also hear him weeping and crying. Something was clearly wrong with Henry Jekyll.
Utterson saw no other options but to visit Jekyll and demand to see him. Jekyll refused to see him and begged Utterson to leave him alone. Together Poole and Utterson broke the door open to find the Mr. Hyde on the floor dead by poisoning. As for Jekyll he wasn’t to be found. He had simply disappeared. On the table Poole found a letter addressed to Mr. Utterson. Utterson decided to take this letter and the letter from Dr. Lanyon and read them.
Lynn’s letter explained why he had broken with Henry Jekyll. It said that few weeks before his illness received a request for a favour from Dr. Jekyll. He was to bring a drawer of chemicals to a certain house and a man would come to fetch them. He had done precisely as Jekyll had told him, and right before midnight Mr. Hyde had come to collect the chemicals. The next incident was unbelievable. Hyde mixed some of the chemicals and as he drank the mixture he transformed into Henry Jekyll.
As Lynn’s letter said no more Utterson started to read the next letter: “The confession of Henry Jekyll”.

Dear Mr. Utterson
Since I was born I have always set high demands to myself. As I was clever in school I had the opinion that I was superior to everybody else and if I showed myself enjoying indecent pleasures people would think I was no different from everybody else. Already as young I lived a double life. On one hand I was the perfect professor Jekyll, but on the other I was enjoying pleasures like ordinary people. I looked upon these pleasures as a shame and tried to hide it from the public.
As I was working with science I stumbled over a chemical mixture capable of separating the mind from the body. Therefore I could drink the mixture, transform into the figure of Mr. Hyde and then head of to new adventures. At first it worked out fine, but because the experiment was conducted in an unable spirit Mr. Hyde became evil as the devil himself. I couldn’t repress my anger and hate and therefore I beat up the girl and killed the poor old man. As Henry Jekyll I always regretted these acts.

One day I discovered to my horror that I was slowly turning into Hyde. I now had problems transforming back to Jekyll. So I had to choose between Jekyll and Hyde. A respected life or a life enjoying pleasures. I chose Jekyll, but it was too late. I had become Mr. Hyde, homeless and haunted by the police. I therefore saw no other options than locking myself up in my cabinet and concealing myself from the public. I will end myself, but weather the police will hang me or I will commit suicide I don’t know.

Regards your unhappy friend

After my opinion this is a masterpiece of a horror book. The readers are kept on the rack until the book finishes with the surprising confession of Henry Jekyll. I loved the mystery this book presents, but under the surface I believe Stevenson are trying to tell us something. I think the moral of the book is to be yourself and accept that no one is perfect, and there never will.
My copy of the book is published in 1993 by Wordsworth editions and belongs to a series of classics called “Wordsworth Classics”.

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