Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Summary and Analysis
Chapter 1: Story of the Door
The narration of the novel begins with two men, Mr. Utterson, a quiet, respectable lawyer, and his distant relative Mr. Richard Enfield, taking a walk through a crowded street in London. On their way, they encounter a mysterious cellar door, which prompts Mr. Enfield to recount a strange experience that happened on this very street.
One night, at three in the morning, Mr. Enfield was walking through town when he saw a disfigured man whom he described as "a Juggernaut," powering through the street maliciously trample an eight-year old girl who was out to fetch a doctor. After apprehending the man, Enfield, the doctor, and the family of the girl decided that, instead of sending for the police, they would blackmail the man to give one hundred pounds to the girl's family. Amenable, the mysterious man disappeared behind the strange door that Utterson and Enfield had encountered. He returned with ten pounds in gold and a check signed by a very respectable third party, Dr. Henry Jekyll. Fearing the check was a forgery, the doctor, Enfield, and the family forced the man to stay in their company until the banks opened and the check could be cashed. When the banks opened, Enfield cashed the check, and was surprised to find it valid. Enfield could only imagine that the mysterious man had possession of the check as a result of blackmail. Throughout Enfield's narrative, he does not name he mysterious man. Finally, Utterson asks the man's name and Enfield reveals it was a Mr. Edward Hyde. Under a great "weight of consideration," Utterson asks if the man used a key to get into the door. Enfield confirms this and the two men vow to never speak of the incident again.
The opening chapter of Jekyll and Hyde brilliantly begins the largely allegorical novel. The novella's structure is unique in that it is not cast entirely as a first-person narration, as it would have been possible to tell the story in the manner of a confession from Jekyll's point of view. Stevenson deliberately opts for a discursive treatment in three distinct parts, the first of which is employed here, a leisurely account of the two main characters and the establishment of some distant connection between them. The structural and linguistic devices employed by Stevenson create an unusual atmosphere of controlled suspense, which surrounds the story. The gradual building up of horror and destruction is achieved through a slow accumulation of unemotional detail, which begins in this chapter. Here, we learn of a mysterious, dark, and violent Edward Hyde who is apparently familiar with Dr. Jekyll. We can only assume that further reading will reveal more about Hyde, Jekyll, and Utterson.
The well-known basic theme of the novel surrounds the duality of good and evil, but also provides an examination of hypocrisy, as encompassed by Jekyll and Hyde. The book has been referred to as, "one of the best guidebooks of the Victorian times," because of its piercing description of the fundamental dichotomy of the 19th century Â outward respectability and inward lust. Hyde's first victim of cruelty is a female child, which serves to immediately emphasize his moral depravity. The description of the fateful street where Hyde lives reinforces this theme of duality in Victorian culture. It is described as an anonymous street in London, whose shop fronts "like rows of smiling women" have a brightness that stands out in contrast to the dingy neighborhood. And yet, two doors from the corner stands a dreary, Gothic house, which, "bore in every feature the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence." Later on, we learn that Hyde's mysterious, threatening and sinister door and dilapidated building facade is in fact a back entrance to Dr. Jekyll's wealthy, respected, and large mansion. The theme of duality is also marked by the symbolic nature of the name, Hyde, which represents the hidden aspects of Jekyll's nature. Indeed, when resolving to find and speak with this man in Chapter 2, Mr. Utterson claims that "If he shall be Mr. Hyde . . . I shall be Mr. Seek."
The first chapter reveals the true evil of Hyde's character and foreshadows future criminal acts. Enfield refers to Hyde as "really like Satan." A few lines later, Hyde remarks "No gentleman but wishes to avoid a scene." Hyde's assertion that he is a gentleman, especially after effectively trampling a young girl and leaving her in the street, is highly ironic. In fact, with this comment, Stevenson is referencing Percy Bysshe Shelley's Peter Bell the Third statement: "The devil is a gentleman." In contrast, Utterson is presented as the quintessential true Victorian gentleman who is loyal to his friends, no matter what. He is also highly rational, searching for logical explanations in the very strange events surrounding Jekyll and Hyde. In this way, Utterson's grounded approach to the novel's happenings provides a stark contrast against the supernatural themes revealed as the novel progresses.
Interestingly, there is a clear absence of female characters in this novel. The only female the reader encounters is this first chapter is the young girl from Enfield's story. This pattern of female exclusion continues throughout the novel, as the action is dominated by men, whose lives appear to be independent of female influence.
Chapter 2: Search for Mr. Hyde
That evening after his walk with Enfield, Utterson returns home and examines Dr. Jekyll's will, which he remembers had strange stipulations referring to the Mr. Hyde Enfield discussed. The will provides that in the case of Henry Jekyll's death or disappearance, all of his possessions should be given to the Edward Hyde. Utterson was uncomfortable when Jekyll originally requested this stipulation, and is further upset by it after hearing of Mr. Hyde's despicable behavior. After considering the implications of the will with what he has learned about Edward Hyde, Utterson goes to visit Dr. Lanyon, another dear friend of Dr. Jekyll's. When the men begin talking about Jekyll, Utterson discovers that Lanyon has not spoken to Jekyll for a long period of time due to a disagreement over "unscientific balderdash." Utterson also learns that Lanyon has never heard of Hyde.
After leaving Lanyon, Utterson's sleep is haunted by terrifying dreams of the evil Hyde, who is faceless in the dream, trampling a young girl and then standing by Jekyll's bedside ordering him to rise. Upon waking, Utterson reasons that if he can only see the face of Hyde, he might understand a reason for his friend's relationship with the man. From that point forward, Utterson begins to haunt the streets around the mysterious door, looking for Mr. Hyde to either enter or exit the portal. One night, he finally runs into Mr. Hyde and confronts him as he is about to enter the building. Utterson introduces himself as an old friend of Dr. Jekyll. Hyde then asks for Utterson's address and Utterson, in response, gives him a business card. Utterson, asks Hyde for a favor - to see the man's face. After complying, Hyde asks how Utterson knew him, and Utterson replies that he recognized him by description, claiming that they have common friends such as Jekyll. Mr. Hyde angrily replies that he knows for a fact that Jekyll never told Utterson anything about him and promptly disappears into the building.
After leaving this scene, Utterson goes to see Dr. Jekyll, but Poole, Jekyll's butler, reports that the doctor is not at home. From this conversation, Utterson gleans that Jekyll's house, around the corner from the mysterious door, is L-shaped, and that Hyde's mysterious door is actually an entrance to Jekyll's old dissecting room. Utterson also learns that Hyde never dines in the house, but visits often. After leaving Jekyll's home, Utterson walks home and decides that Hyde must be blackmailing Jekyll, perhaps for some terrible act he committed earlier in his life.
In this chapter, Utterson begins his detective work that continues throughout the novel. He seeks out and meets Edward Hyde for the first time, and Utterson describes Hyde as, "pale and dwarfish . . deformity. . .husky. .. murderous." He also notes that Hyde inspires "disgust and loathing and fear," but cannot pinpoint exactly why. The best that he can do is to call Hyde a "troglodyte", a savage un-evolved being lesser than man. Thus, the reader is continually reminded that Hyde is akin to the devil and evil, but it seems impossible to define the exact qualities that place fear in the hearts of those that meet him. Decent people instinctively know that Hyde is morally corrupt and evil. To support this perception, Stevenson often describes Hyde in animalistic terms, including imagery such as the "hissing intake of breath".
Utterson exhibits his classic rational approach to the increasingly strange issues throughout this chapter. To connect this highly rational character with the supernatural themes of the novel, Stevenson gives Utterson a highly disturbing dream sequence, which surrounds the terrible actions of a faceless and monster-like Edward Hyde. Every time Utterson sleeps, he sees "[Hyde] glide more stealthily through sleeping houses, or move the more swiftly ... through wider labyrinths of lamp-lighted city, and at every street corner crush a child and leave her screaming." Clearly, Utterson is fascinated by the relationship between Hyde and Jekyll, and is convinced that there is something dark and ominous linking the two. Yet, Utterson stops short of allowing for a supernatural explanation, as any rational individual would. Utterson's obsession with Hyde allows for an admission of hidden sins and secrets running rampant through Victorian London.
Jekyll's house is described in great detail. It is a mansion with "a great air of wealth and comfort" that is secretly connected to the doctor's laboratory. The laboratory faÃ§ade appears run down and neglected, and can be entered through the mysterious door described in the first chapter. The reader later learns that the laboratory is in fact where Dr. Jekyll undertakes his transformations into Mr. Hyde. Thus, the two areas of the house are clearly related to their two inhabitants. The respectable Dr. Jekyll lives in the well-kept wealthy mansion, and the despicable and evil Mr. Hyde inhabits the run down, neglected laboratory.
Chapter 3: Dr. Jekyll Was Quite at Ease
Two weeks later, Dr. Jekyll is holding a dinner party at which Mr. Utterson is a guest. After the guests leave, Utterson confronts Jekyll over the matter of his will and tells him that he has been learning about Mr. Hyde. Jekyll becomes upset when he hears of this and tells Utterson to drop the subject. Utterson urges Hyde to confide in him, but again Jekyll tells Utterson to leave the subject alone and assures him that he can be rid of Mr. Hyde at any point. As Mr. Utterson gets up to leave, Jekyll tells him that he does have a great interest in "poor Hyde" and apologizes for his rude behavior, but begs him to make sure that he takes care of Hyde when Jekyll is no longer there.
At the beginning of chapter, Dr. Jekyll is described as a "smooth-faced man of fifty with something of a slovish cast." As with Hyde, Jekyll's hypocritical character has left its mark on his features, although not as obvious as Hyde's apparent physical deformity. In fact, Dr. Jekyll is dishonest with his closest friends and hides his scientific experiments. Throughout the chapter, Jekyll lies to Utterson, one of his closest and most loyal friends, which foreshadows the degree to which Hyde's evilness will gain power over the otherwise respectable Jekyll. Interestingly, Jekyll also believes he can be "rid of Hyde at any point," which later proves to be tragically false. Thus, Stevenson examines the issue of control. Jekyll's addiction to Hyde's personality proves fatal, and although he believes to be in control of the situation, he is not.
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