English Literature: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde


Context: Victorian Gentlemen

- The gentlemen was an important figure in society.

- A man's social class was one part of being a gentlemen and they were only from the upper classes.

- You gain both money and respect. Also, this helped the children of the gentlemen, as this would allow them to have good contacts.

- Gentlemen would often make appearances in public places. Utterson and Enfield go for a stroll through Hyde park every morning.

- Emotions must be hidden.

- They were publicly snobbish.

- Large sums of money were used to keep activities private. Utterson thought Jekyll was being blackmailed

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Context: Victorian London

- Most middle and upper class people lived in richly-refurbished houses, similarly to Jekyll's "a great air of wealth and comfort."

- Housing had to be built rapidly to accomodate workers.

- Slum streets were narrow and poorly lit. This shows a sense of mystery and secrecy.

- Respectable men were not wanted to be seen near slums, brothels and public houses.

- Hyde is associated with the less respectable parts of the city.

- The two cities overlapped, as most gentlemen would go to these area's to hide their inner truths and pleasures. Jekyll instead, wanted to make two seperate people.

- Jekyll also built Hyde's house in Soho, which ties him to the disreputable part of their city.

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Context: Victorian Religion VS Science

- Christianity had a strong influence on many areas of everyday life in Victorian England.

- This taught people that everyone is naturally sinful and it's up to them whether they will attempt to seek forgiveness from God.

- Darwin's theory of evolution was controversial.

- God created every species to be perfectly adapted.

- Darwin's book claimed that all creatures evolved from common ancestors with apes.

- Darwin's idea went against Christian teachings, which was an unsettling idea.

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Chapter 1: Story of the door

Summary of the chapter:

Utterson and Enfield are out for a walk when they pass a strange-looking door (the entrance to Dr Jekyll's laboratory). Enfield recalls a story involving the door. In the early hours of one winter morning, he says, he saw a man trampling on a young girl. To avoid a scene, the man offered to pay the girl compensation which was accepted. Utterson is very interested in the case and asks whether Enfield is certain Hyde used a key to open the door. Enfield is sure he did.


- You meet the odd couple of Utterson and Enfield

- They set the scene for the start of the mystery.

- Enfield's story introduces Mr Hyde

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Chapter 2: Search for Mr Hyde

Summary of the chapter:

Utterson takes the will of his friend Dr Jekyll from his safe. It says "in the event of Dr Jekyll's disappearance, all his possessions are to go to Mr Hyde." Utterson decides to visit Dr Lanyon, an old friend of his and Dr Jekyll's. Lanyon has never heard of Hyde, and not seen Jekyll for ten years. That night Utterson has terrible nightmares. He starts watching the door (which belongs to Dr Jekyll's old laboratory) at all hours, and eventually sees Hyde unlocking it. Utterson is shocked by the sense of evil coming from him. Utterson goes next door to warn his friend, Jekyll, against Hyde, but is told by the servant, Poole, that Jekyll is out and the servants have all been instructed by Jekyll to obey Hyde. Utterson is worried that Hyde may kill Jekyll to benefit from the will.


- Utterson meets Hyde and is unsettled.

- Jekyll's house is an important symbol.

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Chapter 3: Dr Jekyll was Quite at Ease

Summary of the chapter:

Two weeks later, following a dinner party with friends at Jekyll's house, Utterson stays behind to talk to him about the will. Jekyll laughs off Utterson's worries, comparing them to Lanyon's attitude to medical science. The reader now sees why Lanyon and Jekyll have fallen out. Jekyll hints at a strange relationship between himself and Hyde. Although he trusts Utterson, Jekyll refuses to reveal the details. He asks him, as his lawyer not his friend, to make sure the will is carried out. He reassures him that 'the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr Hyde'.


- Jekyll is a popular, respectable man.

- Utterson attempts to discuss his will.

- Jekyll has something to hide (Hyde)

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Chapter 4: The Carew Murder Case

Summary of the chapter:

Nearly a year later, an elderly gentleman is brutally clubbed to death in the street by Hyde. The murder is witnessed by a maid who recognises Hyde. A letter addressed to Utterson is found on the body and the police contact him. He recognises the murder weapon as the broken half of a walking cane he gave to Jekyll years earlier. When he hears that the murderer is Hyde, he offers to lead the police to his house. They are told that Hyde has not been at home for two months. But when they search the house they find the other half of the murder weapon and signs of a hasty exit.


- Hyde murders Danvers Carew

- Utterson and the police search for Hyde.

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Chapter 5: Incident of the letter

Summary of the chapter:

Utterson goes to Jekyll's house and finds him 'looking deadly sick'. He asks whether he is hiding Hyde. Jekyll assures him he will never see or hear of Hyde again. He shows Utterson a letter from Hyde that indicates this. Utterson compares the handwriting on the letter to that on an invitation from Jekyll. There is a resemblance between the two, though with a different slope. Utterson believes Jekyll has forged the letter in Hyde's handwriting to cover his escape.


- Jekyll acts strangely after Carew's murder.

- Stevenson includes letters in his narrative.

- Utterson leaps to the wrong conclusion.

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Chapter 6: Remarkable Incident of Dr Lanyon

Summary of the chapter:

The police cannot find Hyde. Coincidentally, Jekyll seems happier and, for two months, he socialises again. Suddenly, however, he appears depressed and will not see Utterson. Utterson visits Dr Lanyon to discuss their friend's health, but finds Lanyon on his death-be. Lanyon refuses to discuss Jekyll who, he hints, is the cause of his illness. Lanyon dies and leaves a letter for Utterson in an envelope marked 'not to be opened till the death or disappearance of Dr Henry Jekyll'. Utterson, being a good lawyer, locks it away unopened in his safe. Utterson tries to revisit Jekyll several times, but his servant, Poole, says he will not see anyone.


- Jekyll seems back to normal.

- Sudden change in Lanyon.

- Utterson's honour stops him from getting the truth.

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Chapter 7: Incident at the window

Summary of the chapter:

Utterson and Enfield are taking one of their walks, as at the opening of the book. They pass Jekyll's window and see him looking like a prisoner in solitary confinement. Utterson calls out to him and Jekyll replies, but his face suddenly freezes in an expression of 'terror and despair'. The change in Jekyll's expression is so sudden and horrible it 'froze the very blood of the two gentlemen below', and they left in silence.


- Jekyll's secret is nearly released.

- Poole is concerned.

- the terrified servants makes it more tense.

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Chapter 8: The Last Night

Summary of the chapter:

One evening, Jekyll's servant comes to Utterson and asks him to come to Jekyll's house. They go to the laboratory, but the door is locked. The voice from inside does not sound like Jekyll's and both men believe it is Hyde. Poole says the voice has for days been crying out for a particular chemical to be brought, but the chemicals given have been rejected as 'not pure'. Poole says that earlier he caught a glimpse of a person in the lab who looked scarcely human. They break down the door and inside find a body. The body is smaller than Jekyll's but wearing clothes that would fit him. On the table is a will dated that day which leaves everything to Utterson, with Hyde's name crossed out. There is also a package containing Jekyll's 'confession' and a letter asking Utterson to read Dr Lanyon's letter which he left after his death and is now in Utterson's safe. Utterson tells Poole he will return before midnight, when he has read all the documents.


- Utterson struggles to find an explanation.

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Chapter 9: Dr Lanyon's Narrative

Summary of the chapter:

-  This chapter lists the contents of Dr Lanyon's letter. It tells of how Lanyon received a letter from Jekyll asking him to collect a drawer containing chemicals, a vial and a notebook from Jekyll's laboratory and to give it to a man who would call at midnight. At midnight a man appears. He is small and grotesque, wearing clothes that are too large for him. The man offers to take the chemicals away, or to drink the potion. Lanyon accepts and, before his very eyes, Hyde transforms into none other than Dr Jekyll. In horror at what he has witnessed, Lanyon becomes seriously ill.


- Lanyon's narrative is a flash-back.

- Lanyon meets Hyde.

- Lanyon's curiosity lead him to find the secret.

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Chapter 10: Henry Jekyll's Full Statement of the C

Summary of the chapter:

Jekyll tells the story of how he turned into Hyde. It began as scientific curiosity in the duality of human nature, and his attempt to destroy the 'darker self'. Eventually, however, he became addicted to the character of Hyde, who increasingly took over and destroyed him. The novel does not return to Utterson who, at the end of Chapter 8, was going to return to Jekyll's house.


- Jekyll talks about his discovery of man's dual nature.

- He wanted to enjoy his bad side without feeling guilt.

- The experiment did not go to plan and destroyed his life.

- Jekyll lost control and didn't want to be Hyde anymore.

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Theme: Dual Nature of Man

- Jekyll believes there are two sides to every individual.

- The two sides could be seen as sinful and virtuous.

- It can also be seen as civilised and uncivilised.

- Stevenson uses the duality of man, to comment on society.

- He uses the idea to criticise respectable society.

- It also suggests the gap between appearance and reality.

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Theme: Science VS Religion

- The characters morals and teachings come from science and religion.

- Religion is a social issue as well as a personal one.

- Science is sometimes portrayed as unsettling.

- Science is shown to be powerful

- Jekyll's science that he follows and uses, goes against religious belief's.

- Hyde was created because Jekyll was so troubled by his sins, eventhough they wern't actually that bad.

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Theme: Secrecy

- There are a lot of secrets in the novel.

- This could have been one of the reasons as to why this wasn't stopped earlier.

- Many things were left unsaid.

- The gentlemen attempted to not speak of it, because they thought they could pretend everything was normal.

- Stevenson uses locked doors as a symbol of secrecy.

- These closed doors and windows represent people's desire to hide the secrets, so smashing the cabinet door, was a symbolic moment. It represents the breakdown of Jekyll's walls of secrecy.

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Structure and Narrative

- The story is mostly a third-person narrative, which builds the suspense

- Stevenson uses several embedded narratives in the novel. For example, Lanyon's letter and Jekyll's statement.

- Written documents reveal the information to characters, however Stevenson controls how much.

- Jekyll's final confession fills in the gaps in the story.

- Stevenson uses a first-person narrative for Jekyll's statement, to tell the truth, because he is the only one that knows the truth.

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Setting and Symbolism

- The novel's setting is mainly dark and foggy. This symbolises the narrative as a whole - only parts of the truth can be seen at a time.

- Stevenson repeatedly mentions the fog. It is so dense, that it covers the street, making them placese of secrecy.

- The fog is also used to isolate and restrict characters.

- Stevenson presents London's streets to be threatening places.

- Jekyll's house symbolises his character. The house has two sides to it, just like Jekyll.

- The cane used to kill Carew, symbolises that even civilised people can commit violent crimes.

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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this was very useful



Very good resource

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