Chapter 7: Incident at the Window
Once again, Mr. Enfield and Mr. Utterson are walking by the mysterious door. Through one of the windows, Utterson spots Dr. Jekyll, whom he has not seen for weeks. Utterson calls to Jekyll and tells him he should get outside more. Jekyll replies that he wishes he could, but doesn't dare. As he finishes his sentence, his smile disappears from his face and a look of utter terror takes over. It appears as though Jekyll suffers some kind of seizure. Enfield and Utterson only briefly saw the pain in Jekyll's face before he quickly shut the window, but are both appalled. They walk on without speaking of the incident.
The beginning of Chapter 7 mirrors Chapter 1, as Enfield and Utterson walk past Hyde's mysterious door. However, in the intervening year, much has changed. To Enfield, Utterson, and the rest of the world, Jekyll has imprisoned himself within the confines of his home and of his alternate identity, Hyde.
At this point, the reader is still not meant to know of Jekyll's dual identities, and the sense of mystery surrounding Jekyll and Hyde's relationship and Jekyll's reclusive behavior grows. Meanwhile, Utterson's world has become increasingly dark and horrifying, as Lanyon dies and Jekyll hides himself from the world. Through these events, Utterson's rational and logical world is slowly disintegrating into a world of confusion and mystery. Moreover, while the events of the novel become increasingly strange, the language and detail becomes increasingly sparse. This pattern first appears in an inability to describe the specific horror of Hyde's face, grows more powerful when Lanyon refuses to discuss the specifics of his horrific shock, and continues to develop in this chapter when Enfield and Utterson silently agree not to speak of Jekyll's apparent seizure and strange behavior. Thus, as the dramatic action continues to develop, the suspense and mystery surrounding Jekyll grows.
Chapter 8: The Last Night
Some time later, Utterson is sitting at home by his fireplace when Poole, Jekyll's butler, calls on him. Poole appears quite distraught, and Utterson offers him a glass of wine to calm his nerves. Poole accepts, although he leaves the wine untouched. Poole reveals that he has come to Utterson in desperation. He is severely concerned about Dr. Jekyll's well being, as the man has been locked in his cabinet for weeks and allows no one to see him. Poole admits that he believes there has been "foul play", but refuses to go into specifics. Utterson has long been suspicious of Jekyll's behavior and has worried for his friend. Thus, upon hearing of Poole's concerns, he quickly agrees to help. The two men leave Utterson's home and head over to Jekyll's.
Inside Jekyll's home, Utterson sees that all the servants have, "huddled together like a flock of sheep." Clearly, Poole is not alone in his concern, and one maid breaks down into sobs. This matter is far more serious than Utterson ever imagined. Poole takes Utterson through the back garden and tells him not to go into Jekyll's room, even if invited. Utterson is amazed at the degree of fear and terror in the home, and begins to feel a bit afraid for what he will find in Jekyll's cabinet.
Utterson and Poole approach Jekyll's cabinet door in the laboratory, and Poole announces that Utterson is asking to see Dr. Jekyll. A voice that does not sound like Jekyll calls out to say that he will not see anyone. Poole returns to where Utterson was hiding and asks if the voice sounded like Jekyll. Utterson agrees that, "It seems much changed." Utterson begins to grow afraid as Poole explains that in twenty years of working for Jekyll, he has come to know his voice. In his heart, Poole knows that is not Jekyll's voice, and tells Utterson that eight days ago, he heard Jekyll cry out in agony. Poole believes his master was murdered, and that the culprit, "a thing only known to heaven," has been hiding in Jekyll's cabinet ever since, pretending to be the master of the house.
As always, Utterson works to rationalize these recent events. He reasons that if someone murdered Jekyll, he would not still be in the house. Poole explains that the man, or "whatever it is," has been begging for a specific sort of medicine, "night after night." Before apparently disappearing, Jekyll had also been searching for a specific medicine, and would write his orders down and pass them under the door to Poole. Following his master's orders, Poole searched high and low for the medicine, but everything he has brought back has been deemed useless or impure. Utterson asks to see a written request, and Poole produces one from his pocket. The note seems quite professional, expresses a sense of urgency, and then falls into desperation: "For God's sake, find me some of the old [drug]."
Utterson agrees that something must be amiss. Poole then reveals that he has seen the person hiding in Jekyll's room. He happened upon him one day while the man was sifting through crates in the laboratory. Poole explains that the "creature," who was apparently wearing a mask, cried out upon noticing the butler, and immediately ran up the stairs. Utterson proposes that perhaps Jekyll has been, "seized with one of those maladies that both torture and deform the sufferer," and still might be able to recover. However, Poole is convinced that foul play is to blame, and that Jekyll has been murdered.
Utterson realizes he has no choice but to solve this mystery once and for all. He and Poole fetch an ax from the surgery room to break down the cabinet door. Before doing so, they both agree that they believe Hyde is in Jekyll's room and has killed the doctor. The two men ask Bradshaw, one of Jekyll's servants, to stand guard at the laboratory door street entrance. Giving him enough time to reach his post, they agree that in ten minutes, they will break down the door.
As the minutes pass, they listen to the strange footfalls emanating from Jekyll's cabinet. Finally the time has come. Utterson yells, "Jekyll, I demand to see you. A voice pleads, "For God's sake, have mercy!" Utterson knows it is the voice of Hyde. Poole destroys the cabinet door with the ax. Finally, the lock breaks and the men are able to enter the room. Inside, everything appears in order, except a man's contorted body is lying face down on the floor, with one hand clutching a vial. The body is described as dwarf-like and wearing clothes far too large that would have fit Jekyll. Utterson believes Hyde has committed suicide rather than face punishment for his ill deeds. Next, he and Poole begin searching for Jekyll's body, but find nothing.
In the dissecting room, the find Hyde's key to the street door broken and rusted. Back in Jekyll's cabinet, Poole points to the great amount of "white salt" Jekyll had sent for. Utterson picks up one of Jekyll's books and is surprised at the terrible language and statements written in the margin. And, upon looking at the full-length mirror in the room, the men agree, that it has witnessed many strange things. On Jekyll's table, Utterson finds a large envelope with his name on it. He unseals it, and finds several enclosures. First he finds a will that leaves all of Jekyll's material possessions to Utterson, not Hyde, as had previously been designated. He examines the next paper, which appears to have been written that same day and recognizes Jekyll's handwriting. Utterson wonders if the man is still alive. The short message indicates that Jekyll has disappeared and fears his death is certain. Jekyll requests that Utterson read Dr. Lanyon's sealed letter first, and if he still has unanswered questions, to then read the largest sealed envelope which contains Jekyll's "confession."
Utterson asks Poole to say nothing of these documents, as perhaps they can still salvage the good doctor's reputation. It is ten at night, and Utterson resolves to go home to read the documents in question. He vows to return before midnight and then to call the police.
Undoubtedly, Chapter 8 contains more action than any other chapter in the novel. Finally, Utterson has reason to confront his friend and actively pursue the answer to the mysterious incidents that have been plaguing the past year. Stevenson writes many narrative sequences in this chapter, and a great deal happens. Poole reaches the end of his patience and finally reaches out to Utterson for help. Utterson violently confronts the man hiding in Jekyll's closet, who appears to be Hyde. Hyde commits suicide, Utterson and Poole search unsuccessfully for Jekyll's body, and Utterson is left with mysterious letters including a new will and Jekyll's personal confession from which to glean the details of Jekyll's disappearance and his involvement with Hyde. We have yet to learn about Jekyll's experimentations and dual identities, but we are inching closer. The other chapters in the novel tend to surround the details of one "incident," but this chapter contains many.
It is important to note that in the beginning of the chapter, Utterson stays true to his logical, reasonable personality in trying to explain away every piece of strange evidence Poole provides. Although initially concerned, and willing to return to Jekyll's home with Poole to resolve the situation, it appears Utterson is not finally convinced of the dire seriousness of the circumstances until he hears Hyde's voice from within Jekyll's chamber. After that, Utterson is convinced of wrongdoing, and urges Poole to help him break down the cabinet door.
Both Poole and Utterson believe the man in Jekyll's room is Edward Hyde. Even after breaking in and finding Hyde's body, wearing clothes far too large for him, they are convinced that the man murdered Jekyll, and that his body must be in the vicinity. Utterson is still confused by the situation, as he cannot understand where Jekyll could have disappeared to or why Hyde, such an evil man, would commit suicide. Furthermore, Hyde's key to the outside door appears purposely smashed and quite rusted, meaning the man had no means to exit the cabinet, unless through Jekyll's home, where the servants clearly would have seen him, and he would have been arrested for the murder of Sir Danvers Carew.
At this point, the reader is not yet aware that Jekyll and Hyde are in fact the same man, and that with Hyde's suicide, Jekyll is also dead. These details will surface later through Lanyon and Jekyll's letters. However, as Utterson and Poole inspect Dr. Jekyll's cabinet, looking for clues to his disappearance, they discover evidence of the Jekyll/Hyde duality. For instance, Utterson finds a book which Jekyll held in great esteem that has been, "annotated in his own hand with startling blasphemies." Utterson is again confused upon finding an altered version of Jekyll's will where Hyde's name is crossed out and his own is written in. It seems strange that Hyde would have left the will this way. To make matters worse, Utterson reads one of Hyde's letters, dated the very same day, and recognizes the man's handwriting. Utterson thinks Jekyll must have been there, in that room, that same day, but is now nowhere to be found. In his note, Jekyll writes, "When this shall fall into your hands, I shall have disappeared."
Utterson's final act is to protect Jekyll. He goes home to read the letters, in hopes of saving his friend's reputation, and promises to return before midnight to call the police. Here again Stevenson stresses the importance of reputation in Victorian England, and how even after witnessing death and highly strange events, Utterson wishes to delay involving the authorities in an attempt to save face. The final two chapters of the book consist only of the text of documents: first, Lanyon's letter, and then Jekyll's confession. The reader sees no more of Utterson, and is left to wonder how he came to terms with the strangeness of his friend's work, and the reality of his dual existence.