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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror

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"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" Stevenson's famous exploration of humanity's basest capacity for evil, has become synonymous with the idea of a split personality. More than a moral tale, this dark psychological fantasy is also a product of its time, drawing on contemporary theories of class, evolution, criminality, and secret lives. Also in this volume are "The Body Snatcher," which charts the murky underside of Victorian medical practice, and "Olalla," a tale of vampirism and "The Beast Within" which features a beautiful woman at its center.

This new edition features a critical introduction, chronology, suggestions for further reading, explanatory notes, and appendixes, including an abridged extract from "A Chapter on Dreams" and an essay on the scientific context of Jekyll and Hyde.

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 5, 1886

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About the author

Robert Louis Stevenson

9,322 books5,825 followers
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of English literature. He was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov.

Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is only recently that critics have begun to look beyond Stevenson's popularity and allow him a place in the Western canon.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,420 reviews
Profile Image for Julie .
4,027 reviews58.9k followers
October 13, 2021
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is an 1886 publication.

What a strange case, indeed!

This classic tale of horror is one that, of all the old movies, like Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein and all their various incarnations, I watched repeatedly growing up, I just didn’t really care for all that much. I did, later in life, watch a movie version of this tale starring Spencer Tracey, and an all- star cast, which was petty good.

Still, when it came to reading the book, unless it was a classroom assignment, I don’t think I ever voluntarily read it, and if I did read it somewhere back there, I honestly couldn’t recall it, which is why I decided to select it for my classic horror Halloween read, this year.

Everyone knows the setup for this short story. A scientist, Dr. Jekyll, is resentful of having to repress the darker side of his nature and happens across a solution- one that allows him to express this side of himself by becoming, through the aid of ‘medication’, Mr. Hyde.

People who encounter this Mr. Hyde is put off by him, and do not understand his hold over the respectable and well-liked, Dr. Jekyll.

As the good doctor proceeds with his experiments, he discovers he is almost addicted to his alter ego- who is gradually becoming the dominant personality and becoming more and more dangerous with each passing day.

This is one horror/sci-fi story, one could find all manner of allegory, making it one of the more thought-provoking tales of this genre.

My mind went to the duality of people who often present one face in public, hiding their baser inclinations, exposing false morality, and hypocrisy.

Other themes are centered around the Victorian era itself, and some of the current political climate- a less obvious theme, in my opinion, but not to be dismissed.

Naturally, one could also go with the classic good vs evil trope-or even a more profound nod at spiritual warfare- as the good side of ourselves continually does battle with the dark side, and the fear that our darker impulses will win out in the end.

Bottom line- All these possible themes make sense, and they each give readers a great deal to chew on, so that the book is not just a horror novel, but a classic in many other ways as well.

Overall, I’m pleased I chose this novella to read this year. I’d considered it many times in the past, but always vowed to read it ‘next’ year. Now, I wish I had not waited so long!!

5 stars
Profile Image for Mark  Porton.
385 reviews326 followers
May 30, 2023
Dr Jekyll – now there’s a scientist!

So, this is what Gothic Horror is all about. If this is an example of this genre, bring it on, give me more – I loved it, I couldn’t put the thing down.

There’s little point outlining the story in any great deal to you learned lot. This is a clever examination of darker sides of our personalities – surely, we all have one? Some darker than others no doubt. In this case, as we know – Dr Jekyll’s potion unleashes his darker version in the form of Mr Hyde. A despicable creature without morals who commits various nefarious activities around London Town of the late 1880s.

Mr Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable deformation, he had a displeasing smile

This novella is presented in short chapters describing key events and is described from the points of view of various protagonists. It closes with Dr Jekyll’s full statement of the case. For such a short story, there is a lot here. The idea of Jekyll creating a version of himself with only his “evil bits” contained, to commit its heinous acts with gay abandon, is fascinating. Is Jekyll innocent in this endeavour? Does the fact that he is prepared for his evil side to commit crimes, while his suave side can strut around with impunity a good thing? I don’t think so.

Dark, dank London – what a setting

This Penguin Classics version of this story is excellent. Each section/chapter contains many notes – providing context, and other interesting facts for the reader. This really adds to the experience. Apart from the psychological intrigue here – I enjoyed the feeling of dank, darkness of London at this time – it must have been a dreadful place to be.

The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death

I’m not so sure this was a real horror experience for me, more psychological intrigue and just a bit chilling.

I will read this again and read about this again so I can indulge in another serve of scientific intrigue, compound pharmaceutical techniques, next level psychology, murder, and mayhem. Yes, this’ll do me.

5 Stars

Ps. There’s 2 short stories in this edition - Olalla and The Body Snatcher - I’ll read these sometime soon, as I need to fly back to Asia Minor and spend more time with the 19 year-old Julius Caesar.
Profile Image for Dave Edmunds.
262 reviews56 followers
April 22, 2022

'O God!’ I screamed, and ‘O God!’ again and again; for there before my eyes–pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death – there stood Henry Jekyll!'

Initial Thoughts

I needed to read a story written prior to 1900 for an ongoing reading challenge and, being the die hard horror fan that I am, decided on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A novel that can be considered part of an unholy trinity, it exists alongside Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a dominant presence in the horror genre. I thought it was high time that I get acquainted with this hugely influential piece of fiction.

To say it's reputation proceeds it is one of the biggest understatements in history. The story has become ingrained into pop culture to the extent that almost everyone knows it without having experienced it first hand. You only have to look at the way it's become a reference to any person who’s behaviour goes from one extreme to another. I've used it many a time myself to describe the behaviour of a temperamental manager or significant other.

But would the story itself live up to this enormous reputation? Let's find out.

The Story

The story starts with the protagonist, Gabriel John Utterson, investigating the will of his client and longstanding friend Dr. Henry Jekyll. As his lawyer, he is aware that the subject of the will, a Mr Edward Hyde, will benefit if Jekyll disappears or dies. It's a very strange situation, particularly when events open with the mysterious and malevolent Hyde trampling a young girl with absolutely no remorse. But what link is there between the upstanding and responsible Dr. Jekyll and the vile Mr Hyde? Utterson suspects that blackmail might be involved, because there doesn’t seem to be any other logical reason.

"that time my virtue slumbered; my evil, kept awake by ambition, was alert and swift to seize the occasion; and the thing that was projected was Edward Hyde.”

Thus begins the sordid tale as Utterson, helped by various clues, begins his search for the enigmatic Hyde. The narrative is presented in the form of letters and journal entries and I found it a rivetting experience investigating the events as the truth behind the plight of Mr. Jekyll unfolded.

The Writing

Robert Louis Stevenson Known is universally famous for his adventurous children’s stories, most notably Treasure Island. But this tale showed a very different side to his literary capability as he explored the darkest and most disturbing aspects of human nature.

"I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine.”

The narrative style is surprisingly easy to read for the period it was written and contains themes that remain relevant today. I enjoyed the prose, with some vivid description and powerful language, as well as the style of its presentation. The way Stevenson structures it in style of a legal document, or a police report, is extremely effective and adds an element of realism that has been copied in a number of stories since.

The author adopts a classic horror by starting in a relatively normal and low key setup and then slowly develops the tension through a string of strange events. This gathered pace as details were revealed until the shocking climax. You'll almost certainly know what that is, but just in case you don't let me tell you that it is one of the greatest twist in horror fiction.

Final Thoughts

The story itself is a victim of it's own sucess. On the whole it is a brilliant mystery, with some absolutely fantastic descriptions of London at the time. Oh to go into this one completely blind and not know the revelations in store.

Regardless, it still remains a thrilling insight into a very dark Victorian London in which a deviant undercurrent simmers beneath a facade of respectability and prim and proper morals. There's some remarkably deep themes as Stevenson explores the darkest depths of nature and science and the potential that lies within mankind.

"If he be Mr. Hyde,” he had thought, “I shall be Mr. Seek.”

As Darwin's theory of evolution impacted on human understanding in 1859, the link between human and animals was at the forefront of scientific exploration. The story took me on a wild ride on the duality of human nature and the consequences of meddling with nature and playing god.

Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and my only real frustration was that I already knew what the secret which is the purpose of the story. But that can't be blamed on Mr Stevenson. At its time this would have been a five star story with absolutely no debate about it. However, at this current time it just doesn't have the same impact. Even so it's importance in literary history cannot be underestimated and for that reason it is well worth a read.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,260 reviews5,360 followers
December 8, 2022
حقا انها اشياء لا تشترى
فكلنا تزورنا الكوابيس و لكن هل نستخلص منها روائع روائية مثل ستيفنسون ؟
الفصام. .مرض منتشر أكثر مما نتخيل..و هناك شعرة منه بداخل كل منا !! قد يكون في صورة تقلبات مزاجية بسيطة أو حادة
..و قد يكون في تلك الصورة العبقرية المريعة التي رسمها ستيفنسون في قصته الفريدة..و التي بدأت بكابوس زاره

هو طبيب وسيم.. ثري ..محترم و لكنه مؤمن لان الروح تنقسم لقسم خير و اخر شرير يتصارعون دائما يبدأ تجاربه لاثبات نظريته "الغبية حقا "( لان الانسان يصارع هوى نفسه ليس اكثر ) ينجح في تحضير تركيبة تحوله نفسيا و جسديا لنقيضه في كل شيء .. بهيميا ..خبيثا..يثير الاشمئزاز.. .يهاجم الأطفال و يقتل الشيوخ ..فهو الشر خالصا

بالرواية ابعاد اجتماعية عميقة جعلتها تتعدى كونها قصة رعب خيالية مثيرة..فستيفنسون كان ينتقد الطبقة المتوسطة العليا الغارقة في الزيف و العفن و الشر المتدثربالمبادىء ..و هناك من يعتقدون ان الرواية القصيرة ملهمة لكل مبدعي السوبر هيرو المتحولين

و مع تطور الاحداث ؛طبعا تحدث الواقعة..و يتحول لهايد بدون تركيبة اثناء نومه..و يفقد سيطرته..فهل تتحرر روح جيكل من هايد. .إم سيدفع ثمن فضوله الغير حميد؟
Profile Image for Dustin.
439 reviews153 followers
June 10, 2015


Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto was originally published on Christmas Eve, 1764, and would serve as a primary origin in holiday publication. It's also considered one of the first gothic horror stories. Traditionally, the genre was characterized by settings in or "around ancient castles or monasteries deep in the gloomy forests, [and] involving proud Italian or Spanish nobles and the machinations of corrupt ecclesiastics."
This was a quickly growing literary trend. Some willing participants include Anne Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Matthew Lewis, Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin, and much later, Bram Stoker's Dracula.
All of these works, and many others, featured Walpole's signature setting and era, which almost always took place in Catholic countries.

Robert Lewis Stevenson, however, changed the face of the horror genre. He accomplished this feat by incorporating many unique traits, but two things that proved most effective were: (1. modernizing his horrific tale, set in what was then present day London, and (2. he veered away from the countryside and allowed the action to unravel in the city. With its urban surroundings, all the action, intrigue and mystery had a chance to earnestly breathe, perhaps for the first time, and took on a menacing shape all its own. In this way, it feels all too real. Stevenson supplanted the reader in his world, his locale. You're right there alongside Utterson, Jekyll and Hyde. Also prevalent and valid here are adequate doses of psychology (thus amplifying the suspense and fodder for many stimulating conversations,) a sprinkling of philosophy, science, religion (two subjects that ordinarily oppose each other, but somehow Stevenson made work,) and a decently developed cast. Combine all these stellar ingredients, and you have the formula for a cataclysmic masterpiece. One that only Stevenson could have written.

Thematically, the author showcased his raw talent and maturity as he continued to delve deep into ideas he's begun to explore in The Body Snatcher and Olalla.
Like the latter, a largely metaphorical tale of vampirism that emphasizes "forms of atavistic forms," Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde marked a return to similar themes. The masks we wear to conceal our insecurities and sin are very clear here, as is Stevenson's passion for his art.

It went deeper than that..

"..we were all startled by this transformation, as if a man had risen from the dead."

A mere two years prior to what would become his most beloved novel, he wrote The Body Snatcher," therein beginning to explore the transformation of self, personal identity, and what it meant to lead double lives. In Jekyll and Hyde, however, his vision was fully realized and developed, his craft honed.

5 stars

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This was a re-read for me. I first read it in high school, but recalled very little of its details. The bare minimum, really, and what I did remember proved unreliable. So when the buddy read came up (Stepheny, Holly, Anne, Tadiana, Jeff, Delee, and myself,) I was all for it, and greatlylooked forward to it. Thanks again, guys, it was loads of fun and proved very rewarding.

The short novel is presented, in many ways, as a legal "case," as the narrator, Mr. Utterson, is a lawyer propositioned by Mr. Enfield. The two couldn't be more different, but they're united in their desperate attempt to ascertain the whereabouts of their friend, Henry Jekyll, MD. As they reluctantly plumb the mysteries of the case, peculiar and disturbing evidence (especially in light of its publication date,) came to the forefront, forcing them to act...despite their hesitation. Because doing so meant acknowledging the presence of evil in the world, and if one could become infected like a victim of Captain Trips, then they might also be just as susceptible. As are we all.
I think that's what Stevenson was trying to instill. We're all capable of sin, of great evil. Lesser men fall prey to its appealing nature. It takes stronger men to lead a virtuous life. Contrary to what some may believe, there is no such thing as being either good or evil. The world is rarely black and white.

The psychological aspects, as well as the psychotic, made for very compelling reading. All of the above was a lot of fun. Stevenson's stunning way with words impressed me very much, and immensely added to my overall experience. The psychology of its Soho, London setting, however, is something of a rare gem. I'd never read anything quite like it. It's thrice as fascinating. See for yourself:

"..A great chocolate-coloured pall lowered over heaven, but the wind was continually charging and routing these assembled vapours; so that as the cab crawled from street to street, Mr Utterson beheld a marvelous number of degrees and hues of twilight...
As the cab drew up before the address indicated, the fog lifted a little and showed him a dingy street, a gin palace, a low French eating house, a shop for the retail of penny numbers and twopenny salads, many ragged children huddled in the doorways, and many women of many different nationalities passing out, key in hand, to have a morning glass; and the next moment the fog settled down again on that part, as brown as umber, and cut him off from his blackguardly surroundings..

The narrative itself is somewhat unique, for eight of the ten chapters are shown from Utterson's beautiful and haunted eyes. The penultimate from Dr. Lanyon's POV, and the conclusion from Jekyll himself. Tt had to be written that way, too, due to the way in which Chapter Eight ends. The novel is brilliant on many, many levels.

Unfortunately, I found the ending somewhat disappointing and anti-climatic.

-Courtesy of a footnote in the Penguin Classics edition. The theory is quite long and goes into more detail, but said compound sentence is the gist of the theory.

4.5 stars

The Body Snatcher

Inspired by real-life Resurrection Men in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1828, this short offering is coupled equally with vivid details, gritty exposition, compelling-albeit shady-- characters, and a denouement that shook me to the core, The Body Snatcher will render you breathless. At the same time, it left me wanting much more. It's like a prologue to potentially great novel.


4.25 stars


I'm not sure how I feel about this one..
On one end of the spectrum, it's incredibly beautiful and profound. The story itself, and the players populating it, are impressively complex. Particularly the thought processes and motivations behind their questionable actions. Of the narrator, whom shall remain nameless, I would have loved to known him better (his upbringing, involvement in the Carlist Wars, etc...,) but you get enough of a sense of him, everything being very much in the present, that it's sufficient. Spanning to its opposite end, parts of Olalla are relatively simple. My favorite character, Felipe, openly personifies said simplicity. Simultaneously, there's a palpable unease emanating from the dilapidated mansion, rolling in-or out-- like an invisible shroud ascending from the depths of hell. There's more to it than a super exciting, amped up, horrific high point of the plot, too, as Stevenson alludes to a plentiful and fascinating history pertaining to the locale. Yet, he doesn't deliver. If this had been anything other than a short story, I have no doubt that he would have delighted his readers with a colorful history, and delved deeper into his characters. Themes of unrequited love, redemption, and atavism certainly play their parts, but for me, the shocking twist near the end (I had a vague notion of where it was going, thanks to the introduction, and I STILL didn't see it coming,) really threw me up, over the top. The denouement left me wanting more. A lot more. Ultimately, I'm saddened..

"..It was a fine day, and the woods to which I led him were green and pleasant and sweet-smelling and alive with the hum of insects. Here he [Felipe] discovered himself in a fresh character, mounting up to heights of gaiety that abashed me, and displaying an energy and grace of movement that delighted my eye. He leaped, he ran around me in mere glee; he would stop, and look and listen, and seemed to drink in the world like a cordial; and then he would suddenly spring into a tree with one bound, and hang and gambol there like one at home.."

4.5 stars


A Chapter on Dreams

Unfortunately, this is abridged..
According to the January, 1888, issue of Scribner's Magazine, whom originally published Stevenson's essay, he was often inspired by the images contained in his dreams. The origin of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is no exception. He wrote, "..And then, while he [Stevenson] was yet a student...he began, that is to say, to dream in sequence and thus to lead a double life-one of the day, one of the night-- one that he had every reason to believe was the true one, another that he had no means of proving to be false...Well, in his dream life he passed a long day in the surgical theatre, his heart in his mouth, his teeth on edge, seeing malformations and the abhorred dexterity of surgeons.."
In the five pages comprising this inferior version, he goes into the vivid details of his dreamscapes. I love stuff like this. I really, really much to get my hands and mind on the essay in full. Even more enlightening, Stevenson does not take full credit: he claims his "sleepless Brownies" (or the Muse) collaborated with him in the creation of his work.
It's like a dream within many dreams, revealing exponentially more than I've disclosed here.

5 stars

Diagnosing Jekyll: The Scientific Context to Dr Jekyll's Experiment and Mr Hyde's Embodiment

Interestingly enough, Stevenson’s wife, Fanny, recollected him being blown away by an article on sub-consciousness which was yet another inspiration for him.
In addition to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde being in “legal case” format, it’s regarded in part as a fictitious “case-study” in what was then referred to as “morbid psychology.” Numerous sources voiced their opinions on this aspect, and the novel in general, including a critic from The Times. He was curious if the work was “a flash of intuitive psychological research,” and went on to claim that its conclusion put everything into account, “upon strictly scientific grounds, though the science of problematic futurity.”
Alongside the author’s personal circle, Stevenson’s comrade, John Addington Symonds, was dissatisfied with it overall, on the basis that it contributed artistically “to a process” that took “place in the physical and biological sciences of reducing individual freedom to zero, and weakening the sense of responsibility.”

But the author of this section and the marvelous introduction, Robert Mighall, delves ever-deeper. He though it advantageous to analyze the novel’s scientific context of both Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde. He examined its historical aspects, as well.
Conveniently divided into four brief sections, Mighall begins with Double Consciousness:

“..an evolution of two memories..”
Through very rare, there were patient’s, even then, whose memories were separate of one another, while in the guise of a single, mentally sound individuals.

“I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to either, it was only because I was radically both.”

An adequate underscoring of said pathology is equally important.

(II) Moral Insanity:

Pathologists, or as they were then known, alienists, were earnestly troubled with the idea of moral insanity. In all fairness, the term’s meaning and presumption of it (especially the way it sounds currently,) didn’t necessarily jive. In the late 19th century, it was characterized by “eccentric or inappropriate behavior.” Such practices were implemented in large part with the publication of James Cowles Prichard’s Treatise on Insanity and Other Disorders Affecting the Mind, circa 1835.
I’m almost positive that Stevenson was vastly influenced by the work, as there are simply too many similarities.

“If each, I told myself, could be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable.”

(III) Criminal Responsibility:

In Jekyll’s mind, Hyde is akin to his nether element, and he’s described as having ape-like tendencies. If the physician’s to be believed, Hyde was animalistic, both superficially and behaviorally. He even makes an off-hand comment on how furred he was.
It’s interesting to note the astounding correlations between the text and that of eugenics co-founder, Francis Galton (cousin to Charles Darwin,) regarding the indescribable countenance of Hyde, and the scientist’s photographic experiments in criminality.

(IV) Sexual Perversion:

Around the same time as the novel’s publication in 1886, another work, though non-fiction, would prove just as controversial and at the same time, sensational, if not more so. That book was Psychopathia Sexualis, by Richard Von Krafft-Ebing. Within the textbook’s pages, sexology became a major contender. The German Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology documented a plethora of lust-murderers, beastality fiends, and exhibitionists, amongst other taboo subjects, and their disturbing connections to sexual deviation. Like the alienists of the time, Krafft-Ebing attempted to define that ever-present fine line between crime and “mental pathology.” Sexology was primarily tasked with categorizing perversions.
I think it’s safe to say that the world’s perception of sex was eternally altered.

Psychopathia Sexualis also resulted in countless fans and critics alike of Jekyll and Hyde to form theories pertaining to Stevenson’s intent. And rightly so; there are several cases of sexual innuendo which aren’t hard to miss. ” ‘Down-going men,’ ” being the least of them.

The two works also seemed to share startling connections, if only indirectly, to the Ripper killings, as all three coincided with each other. I can’t speak for the professor’s work (though it seems to be implied,) but as a result of the everything going on, Stevenson’s tale sparked civil and social unrest, as crime rates skyrocketed. No one, especially prostitutes, for obvious reasons, felt safe.

“The wild beast…is slumbering in us all. It is not necessary always to invoke insanity to explain its awakening.”
-Dr. Edward Charles Spitzka, December 1888

5 stars

Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,923 reviews684 followers
August 15, 2022
The potion that makes you change! How many horror movies have swiped this idea! This is basically the template for the Hulk; Stan Lee admits that this work and Frankenstein helped influence him to create a 'monster' that was misunderstood - another example of 'cross-pollination' that happens when you read the classics. One of the iconic works of horror literature.
Profile Image for Lee  (the Book Butcher).
255 reviews67 followers
October 31, 2021
I must have read this before. like several times. i was almost repeating it word for word as I cleaned my house for our yearly Halloween party. But i could only remember reading it as a kid. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is so familiar to me it's must be really stuck in my mind. great introspection of good and evil. One of the most perspective works of literature know to man.
Profile Image for Paul Haspel.
543 reviews66 followers
October 28, 2022
The strange thing about the Jekyll-and-Hyde story, for me, is how true-to-life it all feels. From the moment one first takes up a copy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) and begins reading, it is as if one is reading a moral autobiography. There is, after all, good and bad within all of us – a fact of which this great novella provides a powerful and disturbing reminder.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the full name of the story) is not the only thing that the Scottish-born Robert Louis Stevenson ever wrote, though it is certainly the most famous. Notwithstanding the lung trouble that plagued him for much of his life, forced him to relocate from Great Britain to Samoa, and took his life when he was just 44 years old, Stevenson was a prolific author of engaging and entertaining stories.

Works like Treasure Island (1883) and Kidnapped (1886) are often thought of in terms of their appeal to younger readers – a fact that may simply show that Stevenson knew how to write fast-moving, character-oriented stories that could grab and hold the interest of any reader. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a short novel that no one would describe as a children’s tale, also possesses those qualities, in abundance.

The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comes together in a gradual and fragmentary way, in large part through the investigations of a lawyer named Utterson and a doctor whose name is Lanyon; both are friends of Jekyll from university days, and both bring their respective areas of expertise to the investigation of a singularly disagreeable young man named Edward Hyde who, it is clear from the beginning, inspires instinctive feelings of horror and disgust in all who meet him.

Knowing, as he does, that the respected physician Dr. Jekyll has inexplicably willed all his possessions to Hyde, Utterson sets himself to learning all he can about Hyde, remarking that “If he be Mr. Hyde…I shall be Mr. Seek” (p. 14). Jekyll himself, for all his outward respectability, shows hints of the dark side that emerges in the form of Mr. Hyde; Stevenson’s narrator describes him as “a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness” (19; emphasis added). Jekyll casually dismisses the concerns of both Utterson and Lanyon.

Yet events take a decided turn for the worse when Mr. Hyde murders a well-liked parliamentarian named Sir Danvers Carew; a maid who witnessed the murder recounts that, after Hyde and Carew casually met in the street, “Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth. And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under foot, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway” (pp. 21-22).

The final solution to the mystery is to be found in a narrative from Doctor Lanyon, and in a chapter titled “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case.” Doctor Lanyon writes of being summoned to Jekyll’s home by an urgent letter from Jekyll – only to find, at the Jekyll home, not Jekyll but Hyde. Lanyon, who in response to Jekyll’s appeal brought a drawerful of chemical compounds from Jekyll’s laboratory, watches as Hyde mixes the chemicals and then drinks the mixture – and then “there came, I thought, a change – he seemed to swell – his face became suddenly black and the features seemed to melt and alter….‘O God!’ I screamed, and ‘O God!’ again and again; for there before my eyes…there stood Henry Jekyll!” (p. 54).

We are so accustomed to the story that it is an interesting thing to try to imagine its impact on its original readers – what it must have been like in 1886 to realize, with a shock of pure horror, that Hyde is not an illegitimate son of Jekyll, or a blackmailer with knowledge of Jekyll’s secrets, but rather is Jekyll himself! All the clues laid down so carefully by Stevenson throughout the early part of the story click into place in that moment.

And Jekyll’s statement sets forth, in eloquent and disturbing detail, the progress of Jekyll’s efforts to isolate from one another the good and evil sides of human nature. Jekyll explains that, while he had generally tried to lead a good life, he was infused with a spirit of selfish ambition when he drank his experimental serum; otherwise, “from these agonies of death and birth, I had come forth an angel instead of a fiend.” As things stood, however, Henry Jekyll gave birth to Edward Hyde, a man upon whose face “evil was written broadly and plainly”, and whose body bore “an imprint of deformity and decay” (pp. 58-59).

Jekyll, we learn, consciously sought to live a double life; as “Edward Hyde, alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil” (p. 58), Jekyll thought that, in the guise of Hyde, he could pursue pleasures not allowed to a respectable gentleman of Victorian London. How many times, in the London of those days, did a real-life West End gentleman seek out ways of secretly indulging in forbidden East End delights? Jekyll is an extreme example in that regard, but hardly a unique one.

Time and again, Jekyll tells us, he would swear off what he had done as Hyde, re-dedicate himself to a life of virtue – only to find that he could not resist the temptation to drink his potion just once more, take up the life of Hyde one last time. Transforming into Hyde became something like an addiction; and eventually, he found that the Hyde within him could not remain hidden. He would go to sleep as Jekyll, and wake up as Hyde – and thus this divided character moved forward toward his own destruction.

The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde remains with us. So many great actors have responded with enthusiasm to the chance to play this compelling dual role: John Barrymore, Frederic March, Spencer Tracy, Boris Karloff, Jack Palance, Christopher Lee, David Hemmings, Leonard Nimoy, John Malkovich, Russell Crowe. It is truly the original “evil twin” story.

This Penguin Classics edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also contains “The Body Snatcher,” a story of the moral ambiguities attendant upon medical students’ attempts to find corpses to study at a time when doing so was illegal -- and a story that, in its 1945 film adaptation by Robert Wise, features one of Boris Karloff's finest performances -- as well as “Olalla,” an evocative Gothic story with elements of vampirism.

Penguin Books editor Robert Mighall provides a helpful introduction as well as an afterword, “Diagnosing Jekyll,” that sets forth “The Scientific Context to Dr. Jekyll’s Experiment and Mr. Hyde’s Embodiment” – all of which provides a helpful sense of the factors that may have helped Stevenson write his great novella. Clocking in at only about 70 pages, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is truly one of the world’s great tales of terror.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,548 reviews1,821 followers
October 17, 2019
This was the first time that I had read the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde but I can't remember a time when I did not know the story thanks to the educational efforts of Scooby Doo and other noted teachers.

The rest of the stories in this volume are not so strong: Markheim - a remarkably condensed, down to fifteen pages version of Crime and Punishment - Henry James could not get on with it and so gifted his copy to RLS apparently. The Body Snatcher - well given the title and the set up on the first page - four men drink together regularly in an inn, one has no apparent income but sets bones and attends to small medical matters and sits up abruptly hearing that a certain famous Doctor is coming to the small town to attend to a case - I guessed 95% of the story and was not surprised at the Gothic remaining 5%. Olalla - a tale of an upright protestant narrator recuperating among an inbred and degenerate Spanish aristocratic family - it reminded me slightly of an Angela Carter story - except less fun, much less fun.

Then I came to A Gossip on Romance which is I suppose a manifesto for a certain kind of fiction writing - the immersive action adventure, which is fun and engaging - pure escapism that seizes the imagination violently and carries it up the 39 steps, or off to Mars, or to some other Lost World, or Ruritania, or deep into the riddle of the Sands. Anyhow in this essay RLS praises incident and drama claiming that this is what we remember in a story - he mentions Rawdon Crawley striking Lord Steyne in Vanity Fair - an incident which I had completely forgotten until I read the essay . I could see how RLS was such an inspirational figure and grandfather to generations of genre adventures but what strike me most was how his slightly later Jekyll and Hyde story does not conform to his earlier thoughts on Romance. Jekyll and Hyde is a set of nested narratives - a good deal of the action consists of a man opening a letter or a packet of documents and reading the contents. The most dramatic incidents - we learn about indirectly.

What RLS does is retell the story of The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner - including using its nested narrative technique, mixes it with a splash of Deacon Brodie (giving us a Prime link towards the future) and his own autobiography to create an atmosphere of mystery and unease.

The threat remains a moral one but the expression is not religious - although RLS was trying to escape his religious childhood, but scientific and social. The shadow self - this story must be a joy to those of a Jungian persuasion - is both described as monkey like in his actions (echoes of The Descent of Man) and seems to be working class - smaller, darker skinned, stronger with corded hands and inevitably in the spirit of the times filled with rage against religion and the good and the great of Late Victorian London. The story is open also to queer readings - it is a story about bachelor men frightened of reputational damage living lives in all male friendship circles.

Beautifully the story about the dual nature of a man (a favourite RLS theme) relies on a house with a dual nature - a front door opening on to a smart street and a back door opening on to a slummy one, the madwoman in the attic becomes the madman by the back door. Delightfully the transformation of stiff, upright, law abiding Jekyll, into bad, violent Hyde is experienced as a pleasant one. It is a joyful escape from repression. The Jekyll character is a construction, constricting, a corset, Hyde is freedom from the prison that Jekyll created for himself, and that gives the story the energy of ambiguity.
Profile Image for bee.
376 reviews104 followers
October 6, 2021
i too would beat people to death with a walking stick on sight if i was sexually repressed.
Profile Image for Sophia.
2,019 reviews183 followers
October 28, 2022
I’ve wanted to read this for a while and thought I should try to at least read one ‘spooky’ story not involving lusty people during this season. (Something I want to do more of next year.)

I mostly listened to the audiobook but have a paperback which I used to help me understand a specific word or section.

As with all older stories, the bulk of this was told through word of mouth or letters.
I was surprised we were actually with Utterson and Poole when they broke down that door.

Also surprising, the way each side was described.
In every iteration I’ve seen, Jekyll is a small, meek man while Hyde is the taller and stronger one. There’s never been anything about an age difference either…

I’ll admit, I found it hard to concentrate during Jekyll’s confession. It was very long winded. There was a part I re-read a few times but still didn’t fully understand what it was trying to say.

I liked how it was hinted that Jekyll was addicted to the potion that made him Hyde.

I’m glad I finally read the source material. Though, I personally prefer the spin Once Upon A Time took. How it’s not so black and white which side is the evil one.

Side note: My paperback does not look like this. I probably wouldn’t have bought it if it did. This cover is creepy af.
But it was the only edition that had the closest page number to mine.
Profile Image for Merna .
110 reviews382 followers
February 28, 2021
I surprisingly did not already know the mystery behind Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but the penguin classic I picked up presumed that I did since everyone knows. duh! Don't you know Penguin that some people do truly live under a rock?

The is a novella, so I didn't get overly attached to any aspect of the story. It didn't help that I already knew the mystery which took out any feeling of curiosity. The writing was beautiful and creepy. However, the story was far from being frightening. Victorian sensibilities and prudishness would not allow it to enter into such territory. For god's sake, they would not even allow this to be played on stage because it was 'too much' for the Victorian audience. Oh come on! Maybe, I'm just desensitized. I rarely get scared by horror books or movies. Nevertheless, this is no more scary than goosebumps. Although to be fair, I did read some goosebumps that were more frightening than this.

I suppose the novella is meant to be more symbolic than anything. It's about the 'good' and 'evil' that coexists in all humans. That's profound and all, but it's not enough for me to give to 5 stars.

Sorry, Stevenson, you're getting a 3.
Profile Image for Jovan Autonomašević.
Author 3 books23 followers
February 18, 2018
Forget all the films you've seen and open this book with an open mind. It is a brilliant horror story, and more besides. The story gradually gathers pace, with the chapters increasing in length as the reader is drawn ever deeper into the horror of the hero's fate. The story is told via the observations of the hero's friends, until at the very end, the hero's own words take up the narrative and reveal the terrible mystery that has been building up until then. But beyond the horror story, it is a cautionary tale, that of a young man in comfortable circumstances, who can't resist flirting with the dark side of life, only to discover too late that there is no way back. No wonder the book has survived so long, despite some quaint turns of phrase ("It was the curse of mankind that these incongruous faggots were thus bound together"). A true classic.
Profile Image for Diego Beaumont.
341 reviews571 followers
August 8, 2018
Me sorprendió muy gratamente esta novela corta. El autor demuestra gran maestría a la hora de crear el halo de misterio que necesita la historia. Pude meterme en la piel del abogado y sentí curiosidad, miedo y desazón. Una obra imprescindible que profundiza en el alma humana.
Profile Image for Mimi.
694 reviews191 followers
January 31, 2019
I'd forgotten how high-strung, anxious, and creepy Victorian horror writing could be. Perhaps it's creepy because it's so uptight...

This is my third time through "Jekyll and Hyde" and first time through the other two stories; one is about genetic vampirism and the other a pair of serial killers (inspired by the Burke and Hare murders).

All three stories are quick reads, perfect for those times when you're alone at night waiting for a bus or train that's running late.

It's always made me wonder why Robert Louis Stevenson never covered the Jack the Ripper murders. The subject matter is right up his alley, and Stevenson was one of the few Victorian writers who could have put an interesting spin on the pathos of the killer. Seems like too much of a missed opportunity.
Profile Image for Mahayana Dugast.
Author 5 books226 followers
August 2, 2022
We all know the story, but as I read it again which I hadn't done since I was a teenager, I can now see in it a fine rendition of man's duality and the devastating repercussions that come from feeding one's "dark inner wolf".
Other interesting topics include the machinations of the ego and what it will do to satisfy itself, especially if it thinks that its true identity can remain hidden.
Grievous topics! Superbly written.
Profile Image for Inderjit Sanghera.
450 reviews92 followers
June 28, 2020
Nabokov once described 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' as having an almost winey quality to it and I think that sums up the unique atmosphere Stevenson is able to conjure up really well; the book transcends the conventionialties of the Gothic genre which inspired it to become something far grater and grander, as it becomes a kind of treatise on the duality of good and evil in people. Dr Jekyll's experiments lead to him concocting a drug which creates an inverse of his supposedly benign essence; whereas Hyde is outwardly kind and gregarious, the dwarfish Hyde causes an instant sense of revulsion in those who meets and is cruel and capricious. Yet, as Nabokov states, the characters aren't as binary as you would think, neither character is wholly good or evil, instead the are entwined with one another, Jekyll being able to let go of the sense of  unfettered freedom which Hyde is able to realise and Hyde is unable to let of the sense of responsibility and respectability which keep his vices in check. 

The London in which the book is set comes alive during the night; macabre and ghost-like, its empty streets, shimmering under the pale glow of a diaphanous moonlight act as the centre-stage for Hyde's monstrosities. That the novel is told mainly from the perspective of the conventional Utterson only adds to the strange beauty which Stevenson is able to interweave in the novel, it is as if the creation of Hyde creates a sense of poetry in Utterson's prosaic life, the ripples of Dr Jekyll's experiments impacting on the wider world around him. 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is one of the greatest Victorian novels, a novel which transcends the conventions of the area and creates something ineffably majestic. 
Profile Image for Anne Lorena.
27 reviews
May 12, 2020
It had me at "'If he be Mr. Hyde,' he had thought, 'I shall be Mr. Seek.'” ngl
Profile Image for Jaina.
116 reviews14 followers
October 24, 2021
Eerie, easy to get into, and even though everyone has known the spoiler for 130 years, it still packs a punch! That's impressive!
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
228 reviews45 followers
February 27, 2023
Stevenson is under-appreciated. There, I said it!

This collection contains the eponymous Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, as well as some ~new to me~ short stories. Stevenson referred to the stories within these pages as his Christmas Crawlers because they were unsettling stories published around Christmas time.

The other tales in this edition are: The Body Snatcher & Olalla. This edition also has an excerpt from an essay of Stevenson's titled "A Chapter on Dreams" that goes into his creative process, and offers unique insights into his exploration of the duality of man expressed in all three of these tales, specifically with Olalla and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The edition ends with an essay by a scholar titled "Diagnosing Mr. Hyde". It goes into the legal ramifications and psychological manifestations and the worldwide impact this singular story has had on literature, legality and psychology as a whole.

Of these Christmas crawlers, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is the only one to gain long lasting success and readership. As I've already read Jekyll & Hyde previously, I'm going to link to my original review, and add addendums to this one. I will focus most of this review on the other stories and excerpts.

Jekyll & Hyde
Link to original review
This edition added to my knowledge of this work as previously I had only listened to the wonderful audible performance by Richard Armitage. Listening to the cadence of the language is one way to appreciate a work, but seeing it in print and drinking in the sentence structure, the word choice, is a different experience. Layering these two modes together is intoxicating in a way that I sometimes think only I feel.

Stevenson is a master of the mystery. I can see how this story would shatter the beliefs of readers in the 1800's. No one would have seen the plot twist coming, and the sensationalism of the denouement led to the evergreen status these characters have today.

This edition had valuable footnotes and I learned a lot about how Stevenson plotted this work, shedding light on little things i missed before.

This story is about secrets, the danger of them, the allure of them. The plot turned on a secret, a word, a question. We are told of various accounts of Hydes antics, often late at night. But we never question WHY the person who interacted with Hyde was out late at night. Why was respectable Carew, approaching a strange man at midnight beside the river? Why was Enfield out strolling from the back of the beyond in the middle of the night when he witnessed Hydes brutality? These are questions this edition put to me. Stevenson was showing that all of these characters had a secret other life, and perhaps Jekyll & Hydes predicament is not as preposterous and rare as we might like to think. Possibly, there are many people hiding dark depths.

The introduction also proposed various reasons for Utterson's concern about the Jekyll/Hyde relationship. I learned a lot of historical context that I missed on my first read. The prevalence of blackmailing, specifically blackmailing gay men (and sometimes men who weren't gay; the accusation of homosexuality was enough to successfully blackmail someone) was high. This was a suspicion that readers of the times would have picked up on, the subtext is clear. It explains Utterson's preoccupation with seeing Hyde's face. The introduction pointed out the probability that Utterson was afraid Hyde was a bastard child of Jekyll's. That was why Utterson was so interested in seeing Hyde's face, and so relieved when he saw no passing resemblance to Jekyll.

The introduction also pointed out that the signs of syphilis were congruent with Hydes disfigurement & Jekyll's later isolation and "sickness", all things I never considered upon my first read.

The Body Snatcher

Somewhat based on real events and real people, this short story is fascinating and for its historical context alone. The tale begins with a set up reminiscent to Jekyll & Hyde. Four men are drinking and conversing one night, when a man walks in that one of them, Fettes, recognizes. Fettes is the town drunk and despot, and all anyone really knows about him other than his appetite for drink is that he at one point trained to be a doctor. The newcomer is also a doctor, but he is dressed in lavish clothing and appears the picture of polite society. Seeing this well dressed ghost from his past, Fettes is startled into sobriety. He refuses him entry, and what follows are cryptic whispered words.

"Have you seen it again?"
"I do not wish to know the roof that shelters you."

After this, we are told the story of a shared past marred by disgrace, presumably while the four men gather around the fire place and long shadows cast around the room.

If you haven't guessed by now based on the title, and the revelation that the two parties involved are doctors, I'll clue you in. This story is about resurrection men. Resurrection men are what people who STOLE BODIES FOR MEDICAL SCIENCE AND RESEARCH were called. In this time period there wasn't a great protocol for obtaining cadavers for medical schools. The law stipulated that those who had been hanged for murder would have their bodies donated to science, but that was about it. As you can imagine, there were not enough bodies to go around, and making matters worse, the bodies only went to accredited schools. There were plenty of non accredited schools operating also at this time. The solution for professors and students was grave robbing.

Stevenson's original readers would have recognized the relevance to current events and would have been even more horrified by the story. While Fettes & Wolfe are fictional, their teacher is Robert Knox, an infamous anatomy teacher deposed in 1828 when it was discovered he was purchasing cadavers from murderers Burke and Hare. Burke was hanged in 1829, and ironically his body was donated to a medical school. His skeleton still remains on display in an anatomy museum. After these events, the Act of 1832 stated that all bodies that died in workhouses would be donated to medical science. Improvement, or degradation? It is easy to see which is which. Classism at its best.

Knox, Burke, and Hare are characters in this story, but Stevenson veers from fact and focuses more on the relationship between Fettes and Wolfe. We learn that they were both students under Knox, and had dealings with Burke and Hare, purchasing cadavers. They were told to turn a blind eye, and though they may have suspected foul play, they never questioned anything aloud.

Eventually this moral ambiguity begins to bleed into Fettes personal life. He, like Jekyll and Hyde, appears to enjoy the duality of good and evil. He eventually learns that he doesn't care how he gets the corpses, it is the price he pays to better society in the long run. He is confronted with the reality of this frame of mind when he recognizes a woman he has laughed withe the same day her corpse is delivered to the dissecting room. He decides to ignore this, and only shares his suspicions with Wolfe. This decision to turn a blind eye to wrong doing carries him along a path the leads to further confrontations with Wolfe.

"'We medicals have a better way than that,' said Fettes. 'When we dislike a dear friend of ours, we disect him.'"

I thought this short story read much more clinical, much more in line with Jekyll & Hyde, than it did with Olalla. The reveal at the end of The Body Snatcher was horrific. It sent chills through me, and made me harken back to earlier clues in the story with dark foreboding. This truly is a Christmas crawling, a shilling shocker!


"I begin to think I shall have strange experiences"

Olalla hangs on the tongue like a favorite wine– it's intoxicating. A favorite passage of mine illuminates the sensuality of the name:
"I had seen her – Olalla! And the stone crags answered, Olalla! and the dumb, unfathomable azure answered, Olalla!"

This is a story about blood purity (the goal of rich families striving to keep their bloodlines pure through inbreeding), analyzed through the lens of pathologic vampirism.

It is written in the traditional gothic fiction format: a recovering soldier journeys to a dilapidated mansion in the ruins of Spain, to take a room while he recovers from blood loss (oh the irony). The only inhabitants of this ruined mansion are a beautiful but vacant woman, her son who appears to have some level of intellectual disability, and her daughter. There is a creepy yet beautiful painting of a woman that closely resembles both the mother and the daughter.

"is it me you love, friend or the race that made me?"

While he stays at the mansion, he sees the mother and son often, but the daughter stays hidden. One day he stumbles across her, and instantly they are both in love. But the daughter refuses him, and what follows is the revelation that the mother is a monster. But what kind of monster?

This was the last story I read and at this point it is clear to me that Stevenson was very interested in heredity and the passing along of psychological disturbances, and the duality of man, the battle between good and evil. With Olalla the focus is atavism. The ruinous state of the mansion, the sickness that breeds within its walls is reflected in the remaining family members.

Olalla is decadently lyrical, darkly romantic in a way that The Body Snatcher and Jekyl & Hyde are not. While Jekyl and Hyde is the better story, Olalla is rich with lines that dripped with sensuality. The pomegranates and the golden eyes, the windswept mountains, the love that is felt but not acted on. The passions!

"she glowed in the deep shadow of the gallery, a gem of color; her eyes took hold upon mine and clung there, and bound us together like the joining of hands; and the moments we thus stood face to face, drinking each other in, were sacramental and the wedding of souls."

History/Literary Impact

In terms of vampire fiction, Carmilla came first, likely influencing Olalla. Olalla predated Dracula, and likely influenced it. it is so interesting to look at a specific sub-genre and see how the staples developed over time. Unlike Carmilla and Dracula, Stevenson never explicitly states Olalla's mother is a vampire. Instead we are lead to believe that she is simply sick and reverting to some animalistic state of being due to the impurity of her blood; the reason why she tries to suck the main characters blood is because she desires clean blood, untouched by the impurities of decades of inbreeding.

Olalla is a different beast than the two other works in this collection, but thematically it carries the same weight, the same question of human natures duality, the threat and presence of good and evil co-mingling in the same "clay continent".

This short story approaches this idea more from the lens of heredity and "bad blood" and less from the psychological, moral aspect (though I suppose you could says Olalla's "bad blood" is a kind of psychological transference, transferring the sick behavior down the family line, an effect of misplaced morals, but I digress.)
Profile Image for Jess.
382 reviews244 followers
June 25, 2020
This contains three separate reviews : 1 ) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 2) The Body Snatcher and 3) Olalla

1) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Jekyll/Hyde is such a part of modern pop culture, it even managed to work its way into an episode of CBBC's Arthur as a song (see Exhibit A above)- does anyone else remember this??!!

So many people have heard of the 'Jekyll and Hyde personality' but so few have read the 70ish pages that actually constitute to the original story. I think this needs to be rectified.

I've heard a lot of people say they were disappointed by this, mainly because the narrative perspective is unexpected. Many people assume it will be told from Jekyll/Hyde's perspective, but it's actually an omniscient third person narrative following around this lawyer called Mr Utterson. Please, please, please stay with it.

I studied this for my GCSE and I absolutely loved it and every time I re-read it, I love it even more. What really puts me in awe of this novel is how original it is. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a really pivotal point in literature - it literally changed the whole of the Gothic genre, and in my opinion, for the better. Prior to its publication, all Gothic horror was set in far way places such as dilapidated castles in Italy or Spain because such nasty occurrences could only occur in uncivilised countries, obviously. But Robert Louis Stevenson chose to break that trend and set his story in the prestigious city of London - and he did it SO well.

My favourite element of this novel is the glorious setting. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde defined the new era of Gothic literature with its (now stereotypical) foggy labyrinthine backdrop. Stevenson's power of descriptive writing is incredible. If anyone can define "uncanny", it's this guy. Isolation is such a key theme to any Gothic tale - if something goes wrong no one can hear you scream. Or see you in this case, because the inexplicably dense fog generates such obscurity which conveniently reflects the nature of Stevenson's plot. In any really good Gothic tale, the setting is so well developed that it becomes a character in the story. Think of the bleak and desolate moors in Wuthering Heights . Stevenson's London is on par with that.

For such a short story, you can get a surprising amount out of it - there are so many dimensions to this tale. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde questions science and religion, with an interesting emphasis on the searing tension between the two, especially as Hyde is described with a troglodytic semantic field with a hint of Darwinism for good measure. Perhaps it can also be interpreted as dealing with sexuality and the oppression of women under patriarchy: there's a startling lack of women in the novel and those who exist are simply plot devices and/or very innocent and passive. Class is also explored throughout with the main arena for action being Soho, a district of London infamous for its prostitution and poverty.

The characters are brilliantly well done. The dynamic between those of different classes is also very interesting - especially since the novel revolves around status and consequent reputation within society. Controversially, Stevenson suggests that the repression of respectable and distinguished gentlemen and the pressure of expectation is the fundamental cause for their pursuit of sinful and dodgy business in private. Mr Utterson, who narrates all but two chapters of the book, is the embodiment of the ideal Victorian gentlemen - he has urges and desires, but he does not act on them or indulge himself. Dr Jekyll, on the other hand, does... and it doesn't turn out too well for him in the end.

A fabulous and thought-provoking mystery that I wish had been longer. The ending is a little bit unsatisfying because a lot of questions are left unanswered - but then a truly great mystery story provokes more questions than it answers.

2) The Body Snatcher :

This is essentially a tale based loosely on the escapades of Burke and Hare who worked for the infamous anatomist Robert Knox, supplying his private medical school in Edinburgh with dead bodies for dissection. It was common that bodies for medical research were dug up from recent burials, but Burke and Hare's corpses were uncannily fresh - and that's because they weren't grave robbers - in fact they created their own corpses by murdering people.

It was too much of a temptation for Edinburgh-born novelist Stevenson not to write about this homegrown horror when he was asked to create a 'shilling shocker' for Christmas. As always, his writing was fabulous and the Gothic elements even better, but for me, this short story was just a bit too...well, short. If it had been a more developed piece like the glorious The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde then I am positive it would have received a higher rating from me. It felt quite rushed and the ending was anticlimactic. Back in the day this was written, I'm sure it would have played more on the superstitions of the contemporary reader, and even today, the foul exploitative business of grave robbing is quite nasty - but this was just not nearly as good as what I'm used to with Stevenson, although an interesting historical document nonetheless.

After Burke and Hare had murdered up to 15 unfortunates from the Edinburgh slums, they were finally convicted. And although both were equally guilty, Hare was set free whilst Burke was hanged and then very fittingly dissected. You can pop in and visit Burke (or what's left of him) at the Edinburgh Medical School. Nice.

If you want a fun and concise summary of the escapades of Burke and Hare, watch the Horrible Histories song - it's great.

3) Olalla :

I see that this seems to be getting quite a bit of hate, so I'm going to do my bit and try and explain why I actually thoroughly enjoyed Olalla.

This piece is said to have greatly influenced Bram Stoker's Dracula which was written over a decade later, so automatically I found it a very interesting read. It's the epitome of Gothic fiction at its conception; set in distant times and Catholic countries before its transition to the city and even the human psyche itself - because such horrors were supposedly removed from their audience (Protestants, mainly) and things like this could obviously only happen in 'less civilised' ages and places. It's a story of diabolical revenges and family curses set in an ancient aristocratic mansion full of proud and corrupt Spanish nobles. Although the family whom the story concerns are never explicitly exposed as 'vampires', there's a pretty obvious theme of blood, both in the literal gushing sense but also with a biological emphasis - hereditary taints... like vampirism, mwah ha ha!!

As always, Stevenson's writing was glorious and incredibly powerful. The lush Spanish setting and the imagery was absolutely stunning. I would have loved it even more had it been written as a full-length novel. Okay, maybe not full-length, that's not really Stevenson's thing, but just a tad chunkier.

I can see why this isn't as well known as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I think it deserves a bit more recognition and a higher average rating because it really is a decent, enigmatic little book and well worth the read.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,861 reviews369 followers
May 19, 2015
I wonder if this story had any influence on Carl Jung’s shadow theory—that we each have a shadow self to embody our negative traits, as Henry Jekyll quite literally does with his alter-ego, Edward Hyde.

Stevenson had surely studied Descartes’ philosophy. René Descartes (and his theory of mind/body duality) has an awful lot to answer for. Our whole Western world view tends towards dividing the world into two camps: us & them, man & nature, church & state, those for us & those against us. And life is so much more complex than that! We know from studies of dementia & Alzheimer’s disease that physical exercise is protective for the brain, an organ which we tend to think of as somehow separate from the rest of our physical body because it is perceived as the home of the mind. But it is a body organ nonetheless and requires the same physical care as the rest of the physical self, to my mind invalidating the mind/body separation.

Jekyll takes this dichotomy to an extreme, becoming two separate people sharing one body. And because life is more complicated than an either/or choice, Jekyll soon loses control of the process, awakening to find that he has degenerated in Hyde without the assistance of the initial potion. Like any drug taker, he soon finds that he requires increased doses to achieve the same end.

Surprising how much is packed into this slim little volume, published as a “shilling shocker.”
Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,238 reviews384 followers
November 1, 2019
2019, reread: The audio narration I found on Hoopla lasted around 2-1/2 hours - a nice way to get through the morning. The story is certainly more "tell" than "show", but Stevenson still manages to get inside your head with it. Perhaps I'll spend the afternoon with Poe.

I should mention that reading this after McGinnis's HEROINE made it that much more harrowing - particularly Jekyll's end revelation that what made his concoction work was a certain unknown impurity in his drugs. /shudders

2017, first read: My mind is already trying to work out how exactly to stage this, even though I know it's been done before. For some reason, I feel like two different actors for the two separate personalities would be interesting, but it sort of negates the fact that both these personalities inhabit the same individual, doesn't it? Hm. Back to the drawing board, for now.

Otherwise I'm fairly pleased to finally be able to say I've read the original novel (novella? short story? whatever it is) because I've known several variations on the story -- Wishbone and the Wildhorn musical chief among them -- and I found the original to be no less exciting than its spawn. And it's such a fast read that it will most likely be top of my list for seasonal rereads.

*Note: My edition is titled The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror. I have yet to investigate these "Other Tales of Terror" and this review is written solely regarding the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde.
Profile Image for Kirsty Hanson.
313 reviews54 followers
February 9, 2017
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a book that captured the minds of millions of people when it was first published in 1886. 201 years later, this captivating novella by Robert Louis Stevenson is a book that delves into the question of dual identities and the repression of society.

Dr. Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug. A chemical that can turn him into something else. Suddenly, he can unleash his deepest cruelties in the guise of the sinister Hyde. Transforming himself at will, he roams the streets of fog-bound London as his monstrous alter-ego.

Considering that I am studying English at university, you would have thought that I would have read this classic novella before. I had not. When told that I would be studying Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for one of my classes, I was over the moon how I would finally be able to get to read it.

I read it in 1 hour.

This is a very hard text to review because so many people already know the basis of the book and what it is about.

Granted, the novella is only about 96 pages long, but the story was so intense that I flew through it. Everyone knows the basics of the story: a man with a split personality. The reference of Jekyll and Hyde is often used to describe a person with a split personality disorder (which is completely and utterly wrong and hateful). This story, however, is not the story of a man with different personalities, this is a story about how a man is repressed by society and wants to express a side of him that he wouldn't be able to because of his nature being a doctor.

I could go on and on about this story, I could copy and paste my research paper on it, but no. This is not what you came here for. You came here to see whether this novella is any good or not.

It is astounding.

“I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is written from the perspective of Jekyll's lawyer friend, Gabriel John Utterson, who witnesses the changes in Jekyll's personality and also witnesses the occurrences between Jekyll and Edward Hyde; wants to find out what is happening with his friend. The latter part of the novella is from the perspective of Jekyll who is recounting his experiences and what happened from his point of view. It was interesting to see the tale told from the point of view of the lawyer because it was an outsider's point of view and one where we - as the reader - were also shrouded in a cloak of mystery as to what was going on.

This was the last piece of work that Stevenson wrote and people say that because he was dying whilst writing this, this is why the text is so different to anything else that he has ever written. Side note: Stevenson is the author of many children's book such as Treasure Island.

This is a classic story that will capture your imagination and your hearts; Stevenson's characters are ones that will stay with you forever as they are written beautifully and written with such depth that they come to life as you are reading.

I thoroughly recommend this book, whether you are an English student or not. You do not want to miss out on this thrilling story.
Profile Image for Latasha.
1,282 reviews369 followers
October 14, 2016
it's interesting how in the book Hyde is dwarfish because he reflects Jekyll's undeveloped wickedness but they always make him big & scary in the movies.

I don't like this book as much as I feel I should, being a horror fan girl and all. sorry!
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