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Customer Review

on 20 October 2013
I read this book because I was completing a self-discipline course that drew inspiration from it. The characters Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are metaphors for two opposing aspects of the personality, namely, the super-ego and the id respectively, to use the terminology of Freud. According to classical psychology a person has two distinct sides: that side that is sensible and authoritarian (the superego) and that side that is childlike and playful (the id). Neither side is necessarily in the wrong, at least not all the time, but neither side on its own is completely right.
The book is an amusing tale of a character of high standing in society who, on introspection, becomes aware of the many facets to his personality and who, on experimentation, discovers that he can separate that personality into two principle facets: on the one hand the person who is unruly and, on the other hand, the one who sets all the rules. The unruly character is cast as Hyde in the story and the authoritarian character is Jekyll. Jekyll discovers his unruly side by contemplating his own personality. He finds a way of switching between the two personalities: becoming unruly then becoming sensible again; becoming Hyde then becoming Jekyll again.
As the story progresses, Jekyll becomes more and more like the unruly side, unable to stop the transition from the original Jekyll into the unruly person he is becoming- Hyde. In effect, Jekyll is no longer able to control who he is. To make matters worse, his unruliness has got him into serious trouble. Thus, Jekyll, who first discovered this unruly side, must now fiercely suppress it, and indeed hide it, to ensure his own survival. The story narrates his ongoing change from Jekyll to Hyde and how he "resists the devil" until the very end. The killer plot is exciting and interesting, telling how the unruly Hyde personality becomes guilty of a heinous crime for which, if he is not careful, Jekyll will pay with his life. This tale of psychological intrigue is so good you will not want to put the book down.
The Hyde side of the personality is an expression a man's need for individuality and freedom. The Jekyll side is an expression of man's need for self-discipline and respect. In fact, while Hyde is characterised as extremely unruly (to the point of getting into serious trouble), Jekyll is characterised as rather stiff, ambitious and dry. Both sides need each other: the predictability and reliability of Jekyll tempered the fun-loving, ever-adventuring playfulness of Hyde, and vice versa.
Stevenson's tale is a psychological story set in the quaint, English society of the nineteenth century. Touching on societal concerns of the day- scientific advances, man's place in the cosmos, religion, and morals- the book gives insight into the time in which it was written. In Jekyll and Hyde, Stevenson is perhaps the first to produce a psychological thriller and the book is an early example of this genre. All in all this is an amusing, imaginative and curious read, at times gripping, sometimes telling and always pleasant. Dr Jekyll's egotism and Hyde's recklessness make for suspense and intrigue in good measure.
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