Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hyde and Seek

Completing the trifecta of classic horror stories I've been reading recently is The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, perhaps better known for Treasure Island than this work (I hadn't know RLS was the author of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde until I read the introduction to the collection). It was by far the shortest of the three, so much so that while reading Dracula at one stage I worried that there wasn't enough room for the third story, but at a mere 70 pages it's a relative lightweight.

Jekyll and Hyde is much more like Frankenstein than Dracula, again being about a scientist who brought forth something he couldn't control. The difference here though is that while Frankenstein's monster was separate from himself, Jekyll's monster was his own darker side.

Frankenstein's big idea was don't overlook the humanity in that which appears monstrous, while Jekyll and Hyde is about not overlooking the monstrous in what looks human. Hyde is Jekyll freed of his inhibitions and as he would say nobler self, a man who only answers to his desires.

Jekyll though is not free of blame in this story. He sought the freedom to be his darker self. And when he realised it might be a problem, he kept on going to the dark side, until ultimately he was unable to come back.

Overall, a warning not to succumb to the temptations that exist in each of us.

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