Contrary to most people no doubt, I didn't really know what the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was. I knew that Dr Jekyll created a monster, but I didn't realise that the monster was himself. I expected Dr Jekyll's creation to be more monster-like and more sinister than he was, and I expected a full length novel rather than a novella.
Despite my expectations not being met, I was more than satsified with this book.
I think that ultimately, this book is Stevenson's meditation on the opposing forces in man's human nature: good and evil.
At first, Dr Jekyll thinks that he has found the perfect way to exist: he is able to live the blameless and useful like of Dr Jekyll during the day whilst giving reign to the sinister side of his nature during the evening. He soon discovers, however, that by giving the evil side of his nature too much reign, he is losing control over his own true self and he is soon horrified to discover that he no longer has control over his own transformations. He realises that his evil side is taking over.
Stevenson is giving us a warning. It is easy sometimes to say and do those things that we know that we shouldn't and to live a carefree life in which we only satisfy our own needs and wants. Yet, our sense of self is also defined by our sense of place within a community and in our relationships with the people and the world around us and to live such a life is to lose our own sense of self and self-worth.
Sorry to get so deep, but that is the moral of the story that I took away from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.