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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dueling Monsters Round 2: Jekyll/Hyde Recap

 Round 2 of Dueling Monsters has come to an end.  In the battle between Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray, which side will you declare as your winner?

For me Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde beats out Dorian Gray for several reasons.  

More Monstrous: As I explained in my review, Dr. Jekyll basically unleashes his evil side on the world and he enjoys it (at the beginning).  It is, in fact, his stated goal to allow each part of his nature (the good and the bad) to be unhindered by the other. He doesn't take into account how Mr. Hyde's actions will affect others; he simply likes getting to do as he pleases without fear of discovery. Dorian, on the other hand, starts off by simply being vain and rather naive.  To be sure, this progresses over time to a feeling of self-entitlement and leads him down a very dark path, but I don't see that it was ever his intention to turn out the way he did.  [Actually, I found Lord Henry to be creepier than Dorian in parts - there's a discussion of this in the comment section of my review if you are interested in why.] The intention of each character is very important to me, and that's why I go with Jekyll/Hyde over Dorian Gray.  Except that the ending throws this off a bit, as I'll explain in my next point.

Who He Is In The End:  At the end of Jekyll/Hyde, Dr. Jekyll has done everything humanly possible to get rid of Mr. Hyde (albeit too late) so that does redeem him somewhat in my mind.  Dorian Gray, on the other hand, doesn't want to redeem himself when he destroys the painting; he just wants the reminder of his bad behavior to go away.  In the end, Gray is an evil, self-focused man while Jekyll is trying desperately to be good.  So for that reason I have to say that Gray is more monstrous in the end.

More Accessible: Ignoring for the present which character is worse than the other, I found Jekyll/Hyde to be very easy to understand and enjoyable to read.  It is the most accessible of the classic monster books I've read so far* in fact.  The language was simple and straightforward, the plot was easy to follow and not full of holes, and the characters were fleshed out just as much as they had to be for the story to work.  Dorian Gray was beautifully written but it was more difficult to read.  There was, for me, a lot of excess that could have been trimmed off and the story would have worked just as well.  So Jekyll/Hyde again beats out Dorian Gray.

The Result: Two out of three points go to the Jekyll/Hyde side of the Duel and I hereby declare The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde my winner.  Check out the posts below to see which book other Duelers chose as their winner, and share your own thoughts in the comments!

By the way, if you didn't check out the Jekyll/Hyde music video I posted from the cartoon Arthur, definitely go watch it now - it actually includes a ton of stuff from the book. :)

Here are links to the participant reviews of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and also thoughts on the match-up.  Let me know if I missed yours and I'll add it as soon as I can, in between all the Halloween goings-on today.
  • My Reader's Block posted an excellent review that takes into consideration the concept of addiction to self, and also the lack of female characters - find out which she choose as the bigger baddie in her recap post
  • The Zen Leaf has read both books several times and gives a great comparison of their respective merits in her duel-off post, which includes thoughts on the graphic novel versions
  • Fizzy Thoughts (my Duel co-host) was disappointed to not find Mary Reilly in this book, but appreciated that is was so short - see who she thinks is more monstrous in her recap
  • Life is a Patchwork Quilt  read both books and includes a comparison of the lives of both authors in her post
  • Milk and Honey Quilts is one of the only participants who chose to answer the discussion questions I posted for Jekyll/Hyde 
  • eclectic/eccentric had previously read Dorian and read Jekyll/Hyde just last week.  See who she thinks was the bigger baddy in her comparison post.
  • Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity barely squeezed in a reading of Jekyll/Hyde before the end of the month, but since she'd previously read Dorian she was able to compare the two and declare a winner.
  • Subliminal Intervention also read both books and shares her thoughts on them, including some creepy comparisons to modern life.
  • The Introverted Reader read Dorian Gray a while ago but tackled Jekyll/Hyde for the first time.
Thanks to all who participated in this year's Dueling Monsters and I hope you'll join Jill and I for a Round 3 next year!

* In case you are wondering which classic monster books I've read, here's a list: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Invisible Man, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


Amanda said...

First off, I wanted to let you know your link to your review for the discussion about Lord Henry doesn't go to Dorian Gray but to J&H. I did go back and find the discussion though!

Second, I guess it depends on who you think of as the monster in J&H. In some ways, Hyde is still evil at the end. He doesn't want to be caught, but he's trying to thwart Jekyll at all costs. Interesting way to think of it...

I agree J&H is more accessible! I love the language in it. Have you read Wuthering Heights. I suppose that's not technically a monster book but I'd certainly consider Heathcliff a monster. :D Of course, I hated that one...

softdrink said...

You know, I still have that darn Jekyll/Hyde song stuck in my head!

Erin said...

I signed up for Dorian Gray, but I ended up reading both books so I could better compare! I ended up liking Dorian Gray better, mostly because I like a slightly longer novel with more time for character development. I also thought Dorian was more of a monster. I listened to Martin Jarvis read J&H, though, and it was a fantastic production!

Trisha said...

J/H is definitely more accessible; oddly enough, for me, that was one of the reasons I liked it a tiny bit less than Dorian. :) What can I say? I'm something of a masochist when it comes to books! This was tons of fun!

Trish said...

well i haven't read Dorian so I couldn't compare them but I just finished J&H and really liked it! I love the language and I like how it starts as a mystery and then ends with Dr. Jekyll's confessional letter. The whole concept of dual personalities in this story made me think of people who struggle with addictions - the sober self and the addicted self. Interesting!

Robin McCormack said...

I totally failed and just didn't have time or get around to reading either book. *chagrin*

Dreamybee said...

I finally got my review up. I finished J/H a long time ago, but I was up until the wee hours trying to finish D.G. I agree with you that Lord Henry was often worse than D.G. and there's a part of me that wonders if he was responsible for D.G.'s curse in the first place.

Thanks for hosting again this year!

My Dueling Monsters review

Heather J. said...

Amanda - I fixed the link - thanks! As for J&H, you make a good point, but I really think of Jekyll as the main character and I'm looking at his motivations here. Also, I agree with you about Heathcliff, but I actually LOVE Wuthering Heights. :)

softdrink - You're welcome! LOL

Erin - There is definitely more character development in DG, but I think it gave me more time to dislike those characters. :)

Trisha - Yeah, I think I needed the easier read at the moment - both were perfect for the season though!

Trish - Good point re: addiction - I hadn't thought of it like that. And I'm glad you like J&H! I enjoyed the format of the story as well (the mystery, the letters, etc.).

Robin - Ah well, there's always next year!

Dreamybee - Interesting ... I hadn't considered that. Lord Henry was DEFINITELY creepy though!

Trish said...

Oh ya, the discussion questions. :-/ I think I have those stared somewhere in my Google Reader but forgot about them. ;)

Thanks for the great fun!! Can't wait to see which monsters are in the running next year!

Heather J. said...

Trish - No worries - the discussion questions were just there to give you things to think about. :) Thanks for being a part of the Duel!

IntrovertedJen said...

I read this about a month ago and just got around to writing my kind of lame review and duel post! Here it is. Dorian wins out for me, simply because people don't expect him to be a monster. I realize that could go for Jekyll as well, but I don't really consider him to be the monster. I'm going to check out the comments on Lord Henry. He was creepy himself. Can you imagine what kind of trouble he would have caused if he had been in Dorian's shoes? Thanks for hosting this!

Heather J. said...

Introverted Jen - Thanks for being a part of the Duel! I'm off to check out your post now.

Beth F said...

I'm going to have to consider joining in the fun next year. I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts.

Heather J. said...

Beth F - We'd love to have you!

Rebecca Reid said...

I really need to reread J&H! As I can't remember the details.

Heather J. said...

Rebecca - I'd be interested to see what you think of J/H - your reviews are always so insightful!

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