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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Robert Louis Stevenson's novella Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been regarded by some as "one of the best guidebooks of the Victorian era" as its duality of Dr. Jekyll represented for some a basic dichotomy of the period, the "outward respectabiity and inward lust" in what was a hypocritical society.

  • Behavior

Before his transformation, Dr. Jekyll is a cerebral and refined man. Interested in religion, literature, and especially science, Jekyll associates with other professionals and ladies. But, there is a more primal side to Dr. Jekyll that he finds difficult to surpress, so he tries to separate himself. So, in the other side of his house, a side where there once was a garden, Jekyll experiments in his laboratory. When he is able to separate himself, a man emerges that is called Mr. Hyde, described by those who see him as "deformed," and a "murderous mixture of timidity and boldness."  He kills Sir Danvers Crew, and tramples a young girl.

  • Appearance

Dr. Jekyll has good manners and has  

...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.

But, Hyde is pale and dwarfish, "a murderous mixture of timidity and boldness." Strangely, people have difficulty in describing Hyde, but they say that there is something evil about him and they compare him to a monkey or an ape in appearance. Utterson says there is something "troglodytic" about Hyde. Further, he describes Hyde as a "murderous mixture of timidity and boldness."

  • Relationships to others

Jekyll becomes estranged from others when his darker side begins to overtake him. His relationships with gentlemen such as Mr. Utterson, Dr. Lanyon, and Mr. Enfield are certainly damaged. When Dr. Lanyon witnesses the transformation of Jekyll into Hyde in Chapter 9, he is profoundly altered as he watches him put a cup to his lips and

A cry followed; he reeled, staggered, clutched at the table, and held on, staring with injected eyes, gasping with open mouth; and as I looked ....the features seemed to melt and alter—and the next moment I had sprung to my feet and leaped back against the wall, my arm raised to shield me from that prodigy, my mind submerged in terror.

Dr. Jekyll's darker side takes over and his refined friends are abandoned. He is now not only deformed in body, but in soul. 

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