- Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
This is my second read by Robert Louis Stevenson. The first was Treasure Island, which I also enjoyed. However, this one is more Gothic Horror than Adventure, so I don’t feel it’s fair to compare the two.
As with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this is a story about the horrible things that can happen when scientists attempt to mess with nature, but instead of playing around with life and death, Dr. Jekyll seeks to “better” himself by separating the good from the bad in human nature. The story is closer to Existentialism than Frankenstein, and it makes me wonder if Stevenson had been reading Kierkegaard or Nietzche. Regardless of where he got the idea for his story, he’s asking the question, “What is human nature?” My opinion is that his answer is that human beings are born into sin, and it is relatively easier for us to be evil than it is to be good. I don’t know if I agree, but I don’t agree with much of Victorian moralizing. However, I do see the question as interesting and relevant, especially as we gain more knowledge of the brain and its chemistry and how that affects behavior and thought.
No matter your beliefs, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a short Classic worth reading.