Volunteer Coordinator Michelle has a classic piece of fiction to feature as this week’s Read under the microscope – Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The book tells the story of Dr Jekyll, who creates a potion in his laboratory. Upon ingesting this elixir, Jekyll is gruesomely transformed into the wicked Mr Hyde. Mr Hyde’s actions progress from worrying (trampling a child) to completely appalling (murder). The transformations become more frequent, with Jekyll losing his ability to control Hyde.
I read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for the first time when I was fourteen. Back then I found Jekyll’s need for Hyde incomprehensible. It seemed simple, why would anyone want to invoke and manifest that level of hate, anger and violence from within themselves?
Humans were supposed to be kind to each other, to feel guilty in light of any wrongdoing. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was merely a horror story to me at that young age. I had no wish to meet my inner Hyde.
Fifteen years on and I now know that Hyde exists within us all. That hidden, unspoken complexity which makes us truly human. Reading the book recently made me realise that I should feel anger and fear freely and express these emotions in a healthy manner. As Jekyll states:
“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”