- London during the Victorian era (which is the same era Stevenson grew up in).
- Jekyll had servants, obvious gap between the rich and poor, religious allusions, and the repression.
Example of religious allusion: “The veil of self-indulgence was rent from head to foot” written by Henry Jekyll in his narrative. This is a reference to Matthew 27:51, “behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. In this biblical passage, the division between God and man is removed. Jesus had lived a perfect life, but died a sinner’s way of death. This contradiction allowed a gap for open communication between Him and an average person. Jekyll understood the difference between himself and Hyde. Yet, he was not referring to himself as God, but used to realize they are one in the same, a whole.
- He is the narrator of the story, except for the last two chapters. He is the perfect Victorian man, which can be confusing for the reader at first. On page 1, he is described, “the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile, cold...yet somehow lovable”. Many people felt comfortable approaching him because he did not judge. Also, he shows immense loyalty to his friends. For example he received a note with strict instruction not to read until the death of Jekyll and he locked the note in a safe and waited. We do not know how Utterson reacts to both notes, but we can assume he survives.
- Cousin of Utterson who participated in a weekly walk with him
Dr. Hastie Lanyon
- Once a friend of Jekyll’s, he tells Utterson, “ Henry Jekyll became too fanciful for me. He began to go wrong, wrong in the mind” (pg.11). Lanyon was not a fan of how consumed Jekyll became with his spiritual experiments. He gets questioned by Utterson, but does not have any helpful information. In Jekyll’s narrative he admits he was going to get revenge on Lanyon by changing to Hyde in front of him. Lanyon dies out of shock.
Dr. Henry Jekyll
- He was a very well known scientist in London, who gives his backstory in a personal narrative. He wrote, “ I was born in the year 18-- to a large fortune, endowed besides with excellent parts, inclined by nature to industry, fond of the respect of the wise and good among my fellowmen, and thus, as might have been supposed, with every guarantee of an honorable and distinguished future” (Pg. 64). Once he settled down and got serious about his work he became obsessed with the idea, “that man is not truly one, but truly two” (pg. 65). He created a potion that allowed his evil side to become a physical person and he could transform between the two. Jekyll could commit crimes and not feel guilty. His worst was a murder against a man named Sir Danvers Carew. Eventually Jekyll started to lose control. At the end of the novel, out of hopelessness, Jekyll commits suicide.
- The evil side of Jekyll, went by the name Hyde. He is described by Enfield as “something wrong with his appearance, something displeasing, something downright detestable… and gives a strong feeling of deformity” (pg. 7). People would cringe away and avoid him at all costs. Throughout the novel he was a symbol of pure evil. The way this is presented, and so the reader can pick up on which side of man Jekyll is being, is Hyde is much smaller than Jekyll, in both appearance and age. Once Jekyll transforms into Hyde he records, “There was something strange in my sensations...I felt younger, lighter, happier in body” (pg. 67). As the novel goes on “the powers of Hyde seemed to have grown with the sickliness of Jekyll” (pg.81), which means the older and weaker Jekyll got, the stronger Hyde became. He was so strong that at the end of the novel Hyde had basically taken over. Jekyll in the end has to commit suicide to rid of Hyde.
The strange door that is connected to the backside of Dr. Jekyll’s house is one that people avoid. There is no doorbell and the entire building looks gloomy and neglected. In the higher social classes neighborhood, it is an eye-sore. In the novel the door is how Hyde could enter and leave Jekyll’s house, giving him freedom. In the Victorian Era the door symbolizes freedom in themselves, and freedom from sin.
This man is feared by people and brings hate to people. Just one look at him makes people want to commit murder. Hyde is the evil/dark side of human nature. Hyde is free to do whatever he wants. He is Jekyll’s addiction.
Known for his high and respected reputation, he was easily bored. He began to experiment and created another physical evil. Many people would aim to be just like him, but even his good life had complications. As a reader we share empathy for him.
Point of View
- Third Person Limited
- Mr. Utterson is telling the entire story, but there are also interruptions: Mr. Enfield tells a story, a maid recalls the Carew murder, Dr. Lanyon’s personal story, and Dr. Jekyll’s personal narrative. Following Utterson, he does not have much emotion and opinion on things so as a reader he is a good character to follow.
Tone and Mood
From this line, “The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death” (pg.67), it can be concluded that this story has a tone of a dramatic, thriller vibe. This story is supposed to make the reader nervous and have a feeling of disaster.
Good vs. Evil
The novel's most frequent theme. Most commonly shown through Jekyll and Hyde. These two sides exist in all persons, but which is stronger? This story addresses many questions, such as can good and evil be separated or are they always paired?
During the Victorian Era, there was no sex, no violence, and no emotion. So as Dr. Jekyll is trying to hide and ignore his desire for these things, Hyde seems to just be getting stronger. It gets to the point that Jekyll commits suicide because he cannot control Hyde anymore.
This is what causes the feud between Lanyon and Jekyll. Dr. Jekyll created a potion that dealt with the supernatural. This is how Hyde was formed.
In the novel Jekyll wants to keep up his reputation. The front of his house is upscale and pretty, while the back side is dark, grey, and gloomy. Hyde is hidden there so no one can associate the two together.