In the chapter of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde titled “Dr. Jekyll Was Quite at Ease,” the story’s anonymous narrator offers a brief physical description of Jekyll that stands in stark contrast to the earlier descriptions provided of Mr. Hyde. It is in this chapter that Dr. Jekyll is introduced to the reader rather than serving as a narrative device in those earlier discussions of Hyde. The lawyer Utterson is remaining late following a small dinner party hosted by Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll, the narrator points out, has asked Utterson to remain behind after the other guests have departed for the night, and the doctor’s request, it is suggested, is a common occurrence, as the “dry lawyer’s” advice is frequently sought. It is during this scene at the opening of this chapter where Stevenson’s narrator provides a brief description of Dr. Jekyll, describing “a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness — you could see by his looks that he cherished for Mr. Utterson a sincere and warm affection.”
This is the description of Dr. Jekyll provided by Stevenson. The description of Dr. Jekyll’s alter-ego, Mr. Hyde, is considerably different. Early in the novella, Enfield is discussing with Utterson a peculiar event involving an unpleasant encounter with a stranger who had “calmly trampled” over a young girl and “left her screaming on the ground.” Enfield’s description of this stranger will provide the prelude to the mystery to follow:
“It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see. It wasn’t like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut. . . He was perfectly cool and made no resistance, but gave me one look, so ugly that it brought out the sweat on me like running.”
And, referring to a doctor brought into the fracas involving the stranger’s cavalier treatment of this child, Enfield continues,
“Well, sir, he [the doctor] was like the rest of us; every time he looked at my prisoner, I saw that Sawbones turn sick and white with the desire to kill him.”
Finally, describing the scene in which the stranger, Mr. Hyde, was surrounded by angry women, Enfield states, “I never saw a circle of such hateful faces; and there was the man in the middle, with a kind of black, sneering coolness — frightened too, I could see that — but carrying it off, sir, really like Satan.”
Stevenson provides, in Dr. Jekyll, the pillar of the community, a rather bland personage that is contrasted with the personification of evil embodied by the malicious Mr. Hyde. In answering a question as to the description Stevenson provides of Dr. Jekyll, therefore, it is perhaps not unreasonable to include the full measure of that individual by including a description of Hyde.