I have to start this with an introduction. This was indeed the first and only time I have read this book. There are a lot of very strange gaps in my reading history. Yes, I got through high school literature. Yes I majored in English in college. However, for some reason there are a lot of books that I somehow missed. I think a lot of it was because when I was in college, the professors assumed a lot of these had been read in high school. Nope. I’ve been in at least four different classes that required the reading of Oedipus Rex, but not once have I read Hamlet. (WHAT???) This list also includes Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Catcher in the Rye, and other books that are just part of the assumed knowledge of someone who is well-read. It’s always been odd to me that there are so many seemingly important books that I just seemed to have missed. So I try to read them on my own. That is what I am doing with this book. I am going to include them in my blog because I think they are an important part of my journey as a life-long reader. So this is not so much a review because it would not make sense to review a book that is more than 100 years old and an established part of the canon of English literature. It’s more of my impressions of reading a book. How I feel after reading a book that I assumed was an important read.
I enjoyed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I was pleased that a story that is so rooted into our culture could still have some surprises for me. I really enjoy Victorian Literature and how often the stories are told by an outside observer rather than the person who the event is happening to. That was my first surprise. The reader learns the story through the experiences of Mr. Utterson, a friend of Dr. Jekyll. This was something I didn’t know going into the book, but now that I’ve read it, it makes a lot of sense. Where would the suspense and element of surprise be if Dr. Jekyll was the narrator? I actually love that the reader has to put the clues together along with Mr. Utterson, much like a detective book. The book really made me wonder what it would have been like for the original readers who had no idea that Jekyll and Hyde are one person. It must have been even more suspenseful and quite scary. However, even to a reader who knows the basic idea of Jekyll and Hyde, there is still suspense. There is a level of creepiness that hangs on every page. I didn’t even realize how fully creepy it was until my dog pushed open my door and the sound made me jump out of my seat (No, really. This actually happened). I was really that into the suspense of the book. Like most “classic” literature, the style takes a little more thought than your average pop lit book might, but it wasn’t heavy at all. I really found the story to be very straightforward. It was a really great way to spend a rainy Saturday morning. I’m always glad when one of these classics is actually enjoyable to read rather than just important to literature. As a teacher, I think it would be great to use in the classroom. There are so many different angles the book can be discussed from and since it is short, it won’t be as likely to scare off teen readers.
Please comment if you have read the book in or out of the classroom. I’d love to hear other people’s perspectives on it.
Also comment if there are other books that you feel may have been left out of your reading experiences. I’m really interested in this idea of the books that sort of fell between the cracks of our education.