Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson



The story is about a certain Dr. Jekyll who conducts a rather dangerous experiment. By consuming a chemical concoction which is his own discovery and a secret, he transforms into “another person” called Mr. Hyde. The transformation is external as well as internal. The dormant evil in Dr Jekyll awakens and as if to match the inner transformation, a rather well built Dr. Jekyll shrinks into a puny man, evil and eerie in appearance.

Mr. Hyde indulges in all that Dr. Jekyll has to abstain from, as required by a man in good standing in his society.

Mr. Hyde, then consumes another chemical concoction to become Dr. Jekyll.

Dr. Jekyll also enjoys by becoming Mr. Hyde, the luxury of perpetrating evil without being accountable or without leaving traces, since Mr. Hyde is not known to the world.

This game goes on for a while but becomes dangerous when the evil in Dr. Jekyll becomes stronger and stronger with each ‘transformation’ and demands to be released from the control of Dr. Jekyll in the form of Mr. Hyde.

The frequency of ‘personality change’ increases as time progresses and finally, it is no longer Dr. Jekyll who is in control but Mr. Hyde.

I observed a contradiction of a fundamental nature – how does Edward Hyde know he is looking ugly and being evil if Henry Jekyll has been completely deposed during the transformation?
As in multiple personality disorder, – one personality does not know about the other. Some onlooker has to make the person aware that he has multiple personalities. In this story however, it is not the case. Dr Jekyll is aware of Mr. Hyde and vice versa…

If I had read this book a few years earlier, I would have been able to appreciate it better.
As is natural in the process of evolution, every original idea is overshadowed by it’s improvisation. It is rendered dull by its successor.

I would have been awed if I had read this book before reading about the more recent “multiple personality disorder” and before watching movies based on the same.

Too bad, I am reading too late…

One thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the language.
The language is of a very high standard; the kind that is very difficult to find today; the kind that can be found only found only in classics.

The longer the sentences, the more I relished them.

There were so many words that I have come across for the first time in my life…

Misbegotten –which means illegitimate, disreputable, contemptible…

Lodestar – star used as a guide in navigation, especially, pole star.
Thrift used to be the lodestar of the society…

I noted down some of the sentences as, for some reason, I thought them worth it…

His affection, like ivy, were the growth of time, but implied no aptness in the object...

We told the man we could and would make such a scandal out of this, as should make his name stink from one end of London to the other. If he had any friends or any credit, we undertook that he should lose them...

Small sounds carried far in that silence...

His attention was arrested by the approaching footfalls of someone...

It is one thing to mortify curiosity and another to conquer it…

He was denied admittance to the house…

I read these lines again and again as I savoured the beauty of language…

I put him back, conscious at his touch of a certain icy pang along my blood. "Come Sir", said I. "You forget that I have not yet the pleasure of your acquaintance. Be seated, if you please". And I showed him an example, and sat down myself in my customary seat and with as fair an imitation of my ordinary manner to a patient, as the lateness of the hour, the nature of my preoccupations, and the horror I had of my visitor, would suffer me to muster...

And indeed the worst of my faults was a certain impatient gaiety of disposition such as has made the happiness of many but such as I found it hard to reconcile with my imperious desire to carry my head high and wear a more than commonly grave countenance before the public. Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures...

Man is not truly one, but truly two. I say two because the state of my own knowledge does not pass beyond that point. Others will follow, others will outstrip me on the same lines; and I hazard the guess that man will be ultimately known for a mere polity of multifarious incongruous and independent denizens. I for my part from the nature of my life advanced infalliably in one direction and one direction only...

You should read it simply because it is a classic.

7 comments:

Satish said...

The plot is similar to that of the movie " Nutty Proffessor". I am not sure if the movie was really inspired by this novel. I will try and research on this.....

His other novel Treasure Island has been adopted in many movies in parts and as a whole

Sowmya said...

I think I have seen parts of nutty professor... am not sure though...

I do have Treasure Island on my shelf... waiting for me to pick it... Sooooooo much to read and such a short life :)

Anupama said...

Just a thought but maybe the book wasn't about multiple personality disorder at all...it may have been very loosely based on it since in those days people may not have had real understanding of the disorder and it would have lent itself only as a fascinating idea...

But at the end of the day maybe Stevenson just came with a work of fiction...even exaggerated to a certain extent...

Definitely a book I should pick up though given how much I enjoyed reading Treasure Island twice.

Sowmya said...

Hey Anu!

I bought Treasure Island after I heard you praising the book, but I have to read it yet...

I thought you had alreday read "Dr Jekyll...". If you havent, then you should pick it up... if not for the story, then for the language... and then, its just 70 pages...

Ketan said...

It's more than a year ago that I'd read this story. The most striking and impressive concept was that upon repressing certain aspects of our personality, they return with a force that cannot be tamed. What's most impressive is that this premise served only as the basis for plot of the story, but later when the famous psychiatrist--Sigmund Freud investigated this concept through psychoanalysis, this concept was vindicated, and formed the psychological basis for 'hysteria'.

Sowmya said...

Whats with your morbid fascination for this inverted picture? :)

And then, you are reading Sigmund Freud. mmmmmmm...

Ketan said...

To know about the inverted pic you should visit my profile/blog at least once!

And though, most of what I know about Freud is only through my attempts at satisfying my curiosity, I'm supposed to know a bit about him and hysteria as a part of my normal academic course. :)