Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Although my goal in life is to read everything (of value) ever written, I have neglected a certain genre. I have not read such classics as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein or Dracula. Why should I read them when their stories have become part of everyday culture? Do I have to read them to actually know what they're about? These stories float among us everyday so why waste time reading them.

Boy, was I wrong. I picked up Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (I do own all three books). First, it's very short, so why not read it. Secondly, this book is not about what you think it is about. It's actually much more frightening. I expected many Jack the Ripperish scenes of horror. There's actually only one scene that even comes close. I knew the book was about the duality of man, the good and the evil and the separation of the two with the transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. But this duality is not the terrifying part of the story. By now most of society can admit that we all harbor good and evil within us. But this story's horror comes from the fact that the "good" Dr. Jekyll feels no remorse for the sins of the "evil" Mr. Hyde. Why? Because since Mr. Hyde is "evil" and Dr. Jekyll is "good" then why should Dr. Jekyll be responsible for Mr. Hyde's actions. Why indeed!?! This book is a wonderful commentary on a society that does not want to be responsible for our own actions, or the actions of those we directly influence. By allowing Mr. Hyde to do evil it gives Dr. Jekyll the excitement of wrong-doing without responsibility. But if Dr. Jekyll is the "good" guy, the guy that allows evil behavior because it's "not him" doing it, we are all in trouble. I'm not suggesting we all pull out our placards and start acting like loonies, I'm just suggesting that maybe we should examine our own Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

1 comment:

Beth said...

I agree, that book is totally worth the read. I tried several times to read Frankenstein though, but I could never get through it.

Another good one if you are looking for classics worth reading (although you may have read it already) is Camus's The Stranger... I just read it recently and it was very cool.