Chapter 9: Dr. Lanyon's Narrative
Chapter nine consists of the text of Lanyon's letter to Utterson, which he was instructed not to open until Lanyon and Jekyll had both died (or Jekyll had disappeared). Lanyon begins at the night after Jekyll's last dinner party. Apparently, he received a very urgent letter from Jekyll that requested Lanyon follow very specific instructions by going to Jekyll's home and retrieving a specific drawer from his cabinet. Poole was to help him get into the upper room. Lanyon was to fetch the drawer and all of its contents and immediately return to his home. A messenger from Jekyll would come to claim the ingredients at midnight. There was no explanation of why Jekyll needed Lanyon to complete these tasks, but there was such a severe sense of urgency that Lanyon felt he should comply.
Lanyon followed Jekyll's directions and returned home with the drawer. Inside, he found several vials, one of which appeared to contain a kind of salt, and another that contained a strange red liquid concoction. Lanyon also found a notebook in the drawer that seemed to document years of experiments and notes about their results, but no suggestion as to the nature of the experiments. Lanyon curiously waited for his visitor, and began to conclude that Jekyll must have lost his mind. At midnight, a small dwarfish man appears at Lanyon's home, wearing clothes far too large for him. The reader recognizes this description and knows this messenger is Hyde, but Lanyon had never met Hyde and did not recognize him. Hyde acts strangely, both nervous and excited, and rather than exchange pleasantries with Lanyon, immediately asks where the drawer is. Lanyon points it out and Hyde requests a graduated glass in which he mixes the drawer's ingredients. His mixture first turns purple and then green. At this point, Hyde stops and addresses Lanyon, asking if he would like to see the results of his assistance, which will in his words, "stagger the unbelief of Satan," or if Hyde should leave with the mixture. At this point Lanyon is annoyed by his guest's behavior and is interested in what could warrant such strangeness. He decides that he wants to see this thing to the end.
Hyde drinks the glass, and Lanyon watches as his body changes form. Moments later, Hyde is gone and Dr. Jekyll is standing before Lanyon. At this point, Lanyon concludes his letter to Utterson, stating that Jekyll's explanation of the transformation and the nature of his years of experimentation are too disturbing to repeat. Lanyon knows that the shock of this event is so severe that he will surely die.
Finally, in this chapter, the nature of Jekyll's experimentation and his dual existence as Jekyll/Hyde is revealed. Lanyon's description of that fateful night reveals the otherwise mysterious relationship between Hyde and Jekyll. Through this letter, Stevenson finally directly embraces the supernatural theme of the novel, and reveals the horror Jekyll's transformation inflicted on Lanyon.
Lanyon includes many details in his letter, even noting the colors of the various vial contents in Jekyll's drawer. However, although he is very detailed in what he witnessed that night, Lanyon does not provide an explanation of how such a transformation could occur, or how Jekyll's scientific experiments advanced and progressed to this point. Lanyon purposely does not include this information, as he simply finds it to offensive to write about. Clearly, this is important information, but Lanyon refuses to discuss it, just as he refused to share this information immediately after witnessing it. Instead, Lanyon forced society to wait until Jekyll's death or disappearance and his own death before the truth would be revealed.
The novel contains many other silences, such as the lack of description of Hyde's face, and mutual agreement between Enfield and Utterson to avoid speaking of Jekyll's apparent seizure and suffering at the window. Lanyon's silence here is a reflection of how intensely he wishes to reject Jekyll's work. We learned earlier that Jekyll and Lanyon, the rationalist, had a falling out over the legitimacy of pursuing mystical science. Now, having been proved wrong, Lanyon refuses to accept or acknowledge scientific achievement or work that is entirely contrary to his perspective. So offensive is the shock of Jekyll's work, that Lanyon is affected physically. He grows weak, internalizes his pain, protects the truth, and eventually dies as a result of the shock of witnessing Hyde's transformation into Jekyll.
Chapter 10: Henry Jekyll's Full Statement of the Case
This final chapter presents a transcription of Jekyll's confession letter to Utterson. Jekyll begins by claiming that at birth he was fortunate to have a large inheritance, health, and a hardworking nature. A strong idealist, Jekyll maintained social respect while keeping his more questionable vices secret. When he reached adulthood, Jekyll found that he was living two lives, one of the utmost respectability and social graces, and the other of hidden pleasures and dark underpinnings. As a scientist, Jekyll decided to examine the dual nature of man through mystical study that Lanyon found particularly offensive. In the latter, Jekyll insists, "man is not truly one, but truly two," and he explains how through his research he hoped to separate each side.
After years of work, Jekyll eventually created a chemical solution that would allow him to complete his work. Jekyll purchased a large quantity of salt for his final ingredient, and resolved to drink the concoction, knowing full well that he was putting his life in danger. The drink caused him pain and nausea, but as these feelings passed, Jekyll began to examine the results of his work. In fact, he felt strong, sensual and wild and he noticed that his body had changed. His hands were smaller and gnarled looking, and his clothes were suddenly far too large, which led him to conclude that his alter ego, which he later named Edward Hyde, was a small, dwarfish man. Jekyll reasoned that this identity was physically smaller because it represented his evil side which had previously been repressed and carefully controlled.
Jekyll looked in the mirror to examine his new identity and rather than feeling the repulsion that every other character in the book noted, Jekyll felt "a leap of welcome." In truth, Jekyll enjoyed living as Hyde. He was free to behave in a less honorable manner and partake in the darker side of London. Through Hyde, Jekyll could live a dual life, where he could both maintain respectability and indulge his most base desires. Jekyll established a residence for Hyde, in the cabinet room off his laboratory that had its own street entrance. And, after the incident with the young girl that Enfield witnessed, Jekyll opened a bank account for Edward Hyde in order to avoid suspicion. With all this freedom and power, Hyde began to gain strength. Jekyll felt no remorse at his alter ego's behavior, but did try to right any wrongs Hyde caused.
Jekyll's dual life was going perfectly as planned until two months prior to the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. One night, Jekyll transformed into Hyde involuntarily, while sleeping. Suddenly, Jekyll realized that he was in great danger of being trapped in the body of Hyde permanently, and that some aspect of the experiment had moved beyond his control. For two months entire months, Jekyll lived only as himself. However, he soon felt the need to free his evil side, and in a moment of extreme weakness, took the potion. Hyde emerged, and after months of repression, was out for blood. On this fateful night, Hyde murdered Sir Danvers Carew, beating him to death with one of Jekyll's canes. Of course, Hyde felt no guilt, but even before he had completely transformed back into himself, Jekyll was asking God for forgiveness. Again, Jekyll resolved to never make another transformation. Over the next few months, Utterson had noticed Jekyll's improved and more sociable behavior. It seemed as though he had freed himself of a great weight.
Just as before, Jekyll grew bored with his pure and virtuous life, and gave in to his baser urges, albeit in his own identity. However, even though he did not transform himself into Hyde, partaking in evil activity at all strengthened Hyde inside of him. Thus, Jekyll suffered another spontaneous transformation, this time in a park outside of his home. Afraid he would be captured by the police, and unable to return to his home because the servants would see him and report him, Hyde sent for Lanyon's assistance. From that night forward, Jekyll had to take double doses of the potion every six hours to avoid unintentionally waking up as Hyde. When the drug wore off, Hyde would appear, and it was the beginnings of such a transformation that Enfield and Utterson witnessed at the cabinet window.
In his final days and hours, Jekyll explains that Hyde grew increasingly stronger as Jekyll began to fade away. To make matters worse, Jekyll's supply of potion salt was running out. He ordered more, only to discover that the new salt was not effective. After ordering the most pure salt possible, Jekyll finally realized that the original order must have contained an unknown impurity that was actually the key potion ingredient. Without any more of the original salt, there was no way for Jekyll to discover what that secret ingredient was. Jekyll realized he had no choice but to transform permanently in to Hyde. After taking the last dose of potion, Jekyll, as himself, sat down to compose a new will and letters to Utterson to explain the entire situation. While writing, Jekyll claims he cannot be sure how Hyde will react when the rest of the world discovers him. But, he states that without a doubt, when Utterson reads the letter, Henry Jekyll will have ceased to exist.
Finally, the novel's mysteries are solved. From a first hand account, we learn the details of Henry Jekyll's research, the reasoning behind his experimentation, and the details of how Hyde began to take over his life. The shift from third person to first person perspective is quite powerful, and leaves few questions remaining. The reader is able to piece together Utterson's perspective with Jekyll's behavior, and everything becomes clear.
In his letter, Jekyll highlights one of the main themes of the novel, the dual nature of man. It is this concept that caused him to pursue his disastrous experiments that led to his downfall. Hyde, the personification of Jekyll's purely evil characteristics, revels in the freedom of an anonymous existence. Although he successfully distills his evil side, Jekyll still remains a combination of good and evil. Thus, when transforming back and forth, his evil side grows stronger and more powerful after years of repression, and is able to take over completely. In this way, Jekyll's experiments are the opposite of what he hoped. Interestingly, as is repeatedly mentioned throughout the novel, Hyde is a small man often called dwarfish, while Jekyll is a man of large stature. Thus, the reader is left to assume that Jekyll's evil side is much weaker and less developed than his good side. However, appearances can be deceiving. In fact, Hyde's strength far out powers Jekyll's.
In his letter, Jekyll clearly states that he felt no guilt about Hyde's actions, as "Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde, but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty." To the reader, this explanation seems ridiculous, because Hyde is in fact part of Jekyll, and a being that Jekyll created. Therefore, clearly Jekyll is responsible for the man's actions.
In the struggle between Jekyll and Hyde, Stevenson explores the struggle of the human conscience, between good and evil, noble and despicable. Jekyll, who gives in to his evil impulses becomes a prisoner and victim of his own creation. Thus, Stevenson seems to suggest that a noble, pure life is far better than one of discreet immorality. However, Stevenson also portrays the seemingly purely noble men in the novel, Utterson and Lanyon, as weak. Lanyon dies after the shock of Jekyll's transformation, and Utterson repeatedly refuses to accept the truth or pursue the novel's central mystery. Although apparently critical of both worldviews, Stevenson seems to ultimately claim that the noble life is more admirable, as Utterson lives while Jekyll/Hyde dies.
Although this final chapter reveals the details of Jekyll's work, there are questions left unanswered. Stevenson never specifically explains Jekyll's sordid behavior or immoral vices. Rather, he refers to this side of Jekyll's life quite vaguely. This lack of information is the final silence within the book, following a pattern established from the very beginning. Has Jekyll/Hyde been involved in immoral sexual acts, or even homosexual behavior? It is unclear. The young girl running through the street at three in the morning makes a slight allusion to child prostitution, which ran rampant at the time. Moreover, the lack of female characters in the novel or female influence in any of the men's lives leaves the possibility of homosexual behavior open as well. However, despite all the clues and insinuations the novel might make, the reader never knows the details of Jekyll/Hyde's immoral depravity. Some critics suggest that this final lack of explanation once again depicts the oppressive nature of Victorian society. Others claim it demonstrates the conflict between the rational logic of the written word and indescribable pure evil. Or, perhaps leaving these details unexplained gives their sense of evil greater power, as the unknown is more disturbing than the known.
Stevenson's main message appears to be that the lure of darkness and evil exists in the mind of every man, and all that differentiates good people from evil people is one's ability to control indulgence. Although we all have evil within us, Stevenson suggests it is best to keep our "Hyde's" under lock and key, rather than let them roam freely.