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What does it mean that Mr. Utterson says he inclines to Cain's heresy in his dealings...

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tzie15 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 22, 2011 at 4:38 AM via web

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What does it mean that Mr. Utterson says he inclines to Cain's heresy in his dealings with others?

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 12, 2012 at 4:28 PM (Answer #1)

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On the first page of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" Mr. Utterson the lawyer is quoted as saying:

"I incline to Cain's heresy. . . . I let my brother go to the devil in his own way."

In the Bible when God asks Cain where his brother Abel is, Cain answers, "Am I my brother's keeper?" This could be called heresy because God and the Church expect people to be concerned about their brother men. But Utterson is in the habit of telling people that he lets his brother men do whatever they please without being concerned or curious about them. He had very few close friends. He did, however, become concerned about Dr. Jekyll because the good doctor seemed to be under the influence of an evil-looking character called Mr. Hyde. Utterson also felt responsible because he was Jekyll's executor and his lawyer. It was for these reasons that Utterson became so deeply involved with what Stevenson calls the "case" of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, suggesting that it is a complicated legal case with complex ramifications involving such things as possible insanity, murder, suicide, extortion, false impersonation, and fraud.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 2, 2014 at 4:09 PM (Answer #2)

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In simpler terms, Mr. Utterson is basically saying that he sides with what Cain, the brother of Abel, said to God when He asked him where was his brother. Cain, who is known for being insubordinate, also epitomizes "bad blood" because his answer to God was basically "what do I care where my brother is...am I in charge of him?"

Am I my brother's keeper?

Back to the novel, Utterson uses Cain's statement to indicate that he, too, has little to do with what other people do; that he only minds about himself and his own business. 

 I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.

These words are a refined way to say that, for all he cares, people can do whatever they want, and that he does not care. 

Yet, we know that Utterson does care. He cares enough to want to get to the bottom of what is going with Dr. Jekyll, not only at a business level but also at a personal level. He consistently tries to correlate the influence of Mr. Hyde and wants to know how he can change whatever is coming Dr. Jekyll's way. 

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