Last-Minute GCSE Revision Notes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
November 21, 2018
Henry Jekyll - Dr. Jekyll is a well-known and highly respected physician in London. He is ashamed of his hidden desires, and tries to alienate himself from colleagues because his scientific work deals with the supernatural.
Edward Hyde - Mr. Hyde is an evil character, who enjoys violence and shows no remorse for his actions. He has a disfigured, ape-like appearance.
Gabriel Utterson - Gabriel Utterson narrates the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is a rational lawyer, and good friend of both Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon. He is a respectable man who represses his own desires, but is understanding that man has a darker side, and seeks to help Dr. Jekyll rather than shame him.
Dr. Hastie Lanyon - One of Dr. Jekyll’s closest friends. He is an extremely rational man and fellow scientist.
Mr. Richard Enfield - Enfield is a friend and distant cousin of Mr. Utterson.
Poole - Poole is Dr. Jekyll’s manservant, who has known and worked for him for a long time.
The novel opens with Gabriel Utterson and Richard Enfield on a Sunday walk. Enfield points out a peculiar door along their walk.
Enfield tells him that once, very early in the morning, he was on his way home walking through the area, and saw a man trample over a young girl. The man went through the door and came back with a cheque signed under another man’s name, to pay the child’s family for the incident.
Enfield reveals that the man’s name is Hyde, and Utterson says that he believes he knows the name of the man on the cheque (Dr. Jekyll). They two agree to never speak of the horrible incident again.
Later that evening, Mr. Utterson is home and looking through Dr. Jekyll’s will. The will states that if Dr. Jekyll dies or goes missing, all of his possessions should be given to Mr. Hyde.
One night, when the street is empty, Hyde appears outside the door again. Utterson tells him that he is a friend of Dr. Jekyll, but Hyde snarls at him and goes back into the house.
Utterson goes to the next house on the block, where Dr. Jekyll’s manservant, Poole, opens the door. Utterson asks Poole why Hyde has a key to what he calls the “old dissecting room.” Poole replies that he was instructed to follow all orders from Hyde.
Six weeks later, Dr. Jekyll throws a dinner party. There, Utterson asks him about his will, to which Dr. Jekyll is avoidant.
Dr. Jekyll tells him that his relationship with Hyde is a strange and painful, but that he can be rid of Hyde whenever he pleases.
He asks Utterson not to speak of Hyde again, but to ensure that should anything happen to him, his will be upheld, and all of his possessions go to Hyde. Utterson reluctantly agrees.
A year later, the novel describes a maid’s account of Carew’s murder.
The maid witnessed his murder as she was in her upstairs bedroom nearby, and recognized Mr. Hyde on the street below.
After approaching Carew and talking for a moment, Hyde raised his walking stick and beat and then trampled the old man to death.
Carew was carrying a letter addressed to Mr. Utterson, and so he is called to the scene. Utterson is able to identify the body as Carew, and recognizes the walking stick used to bludgeon him as the cane that he gave to Dr. Jekyll many years ago.
He takes the police to Hyde’s home, where an older woman answers Hyde’s door and tells them he is not home. The police enter Hyde’s quarters to find everything in disarray, as if he has fled quickly. There is half of a burnt cheque book in the fireplace and the other half of the walking stick that was used in the murder behind the door.
Utterson goes to Dr. Jekyll’s home. Jekyll says he has heard of the murder in the papers but assures him that Hyde will never be heard from again.
Jekyll shows that he has a letter from Hyde saying that he has escaped.
At home, Utterson asks his head clerk to study the note from Hyde. At the same time, a letter comes from Jekyll, asking him to dinner. The clerk notices that the handwriting is very similar on both notes. Utterson thinks that Jekyll forged the letter from Hyde.
Hyde has not been seen or found, and as the months pass, Jekyll begins to throw more parties and become his healthy self again.
One day, Utterson goes to visit Jekyll, and is turned away by Poole, who says he is ill.
He goes to see Dr. Lanyon, who is also deathly ill. Lanyon tell him that he has had a fright, and he will never again see Jekyll.
Utterson writes Jekyll, who replies that him and Dr. Lanyon must never meet again, and that he is secluding himself.
Lanyon dies three weeks later.
Utterson discovers a letter in Lanyon’s handwriting that says it is not to be opened until the death of Dr. Jekyll.
Utterson continues to visit Jekyll’s home, but he will not be seen.
Enfield and Utterson are taking another Sunday walk, and pass by Dr. Jekyll’s home. They shout up at him, and he replies that he is not well, but glad to see them.
While talking, Jekyll’s expression suddenly changes to one of terror, and he pulls the window down viciously. The two men depart.
One evening, Poole arrives at Utterson’s home, upset and frightened. They go together to Dr. Jekyll’s house, where the staff is huddled, seemingly scared.
Poole takes him to the laboratory door, and calls out to Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll replies that he will not see anyone. Pool asks if Utterson recognizes the voice, to which he replies that it sounds odd. Poole suspects it is someone else entirely, and says the voice has been calling out for medicines.
Poole says he also saw a strange creature with a mask on near the room earlier.
Utterson proposes using an axe and fireplace poker to break down the door.
When they do so, they find the body of Hyde on the ground with a crushed vial in his hand, and suspect he has taken his own life.
They search for Jekyll, with no luck. Utterson finds a letter on Jekyll’s table, addressed to him. Inside is a new will, this one leaving his possessions to Utterson. Another note beside it is dated that day, and Utterson thinks Jekyll must still be alive somewhere. The note instructs him to read Dr. Lanyon’s note and another note with Jekyll’s “confession.”
Utterson reads Dr. Lanyon’s letter, which describes a peculiar incident:
He received a letter from Dr. Jekyll, asking him to enter his home, fetch a drawer of objects, bring it home, and wait for Jekyll’s contact to visit him at midnight.
The man who came was odd and misfigured--Mr. Hyde. He took the contents of the drawer, began mixing them, drank the solution, and at once turned into Dr. Jekyll.
The final chapter gives Dr. Jekyll’s account of the story.
Jekyll wished to conceal his pleasures and sinful side from society.
Thus, he began experiments concerning the duality of mankind, in hopes of separating his good and bad sides.
He developed a way to turn himself into Mr. Hyde. Once he did so, he was tempted to do this often, because Hyde was much younger and more free than himself. That is when he instructed his servants to allow Hyde in and out freely, and ensured Hyde was in his will, in case something went wrong and he could not turn back to Dr. Jekyll.
After too long, Dr. Jekyll was no longer able to control when he turned into Hyde. By trying to restrain him, he lost complete control--which led to the murder of Carew.
The medicines Poole fetched were not pure enough to stop the changing, and so he knew he will lose control and likely die.
Dual Nature of Man- The key theme of Dy. Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the dual nature of man. Jekyll identifies that there is a good and a sinful side to humans. Not only are these two sides good vs. evil, but also civilised vs. uncivilised--thus why Hyde takes on an animalistic, savage demeanor. This novel suggests that there is a savage part of all humans, not simply that some are lesser developed or civilised than others.
Reputation- Reputation is very important to the characters in the novel. Jekyll is more concerned about maintaining his reputation than the evil things Hyde is doing. Utterson also seems more concerned with protecting Jekyll’s reputation than ensuring Hyde is ever punished or stopped. Because reputation is valued so highly, the characters hide much of their true selves.
Science and Religion- Many of the characters in the novel are scientists. Dr. Lanyon is concerned with rational science, while Dr. Jekyll experiments more with the spiritual and supernatural. Science is powerful but frightening in the novel. The laboratory is portrayed as curious and odd, and the transformation from Jekyll to Hyde is described as grotesque. Science is powerful in that is causes murders and other horrible deeds through Hyde’s actions.
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Need a quick summary of key characters, the novel as well as themes to this fairly challenging text? Look no further than below!