The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Summary
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novella that tells the story of Dr. Jekyll, who produces a drug that allows Mr. Hyde, the evil side of his personality, to take control.
Jekyll's lawyer, Mr. Utterson, takes an immediate disliking to Jekyll's new friend Mr. Hyde.
Utterson finds Jekyll dead in his laboratory and learns the horrible truth from a letter he had found.
- Jekyll invented a drug that allowed Mr. Hyde, the evil side of him, to take control. Hyde soon became too powerful, and Jekyll was forced to kill himself to stop Hyde.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published in 1886 and achieved great success, selling over 40,000 copies within its first six months of publication. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a gothic story of Gabriel John Utterson’s investigation into a series of occurrences between the respected doctor, Henry Jekyll, and the nefarious Mr. Hyde. The novella explores themes of supernaturalism, the duality of self, and the importance and consequences of public opinion.
The story opens in London with Gabriel John Utterson on a weekly walk with his cousin Richard Enfield. When they pass by the door to a neglected two-story house, Enfield recounts to Utterson a disturbing encounter he witnessed there. Enfield tells Utterson that he saw a detestable man trample over a little girl, turning the little girl’s family and onlookers into an angry crowd. Enfield recalls how they demanded the man’s name—Hyde—and that he pay the child’s family a sum of £100 to avoid scandal. The man gives them a check, which Enfield had expected to be a forgery, but found it genuine. Enfield finishes his tale, and Utterson, an austere and reserved lawyer, feels ashamed of gossiping. Both men agree to not refer to the incident again.
With Enfield’s story on Utterson’s mind, he returns home. As a lawyer, Utterson had drawn up a will for his client Henry Jekyll. Utterson pulls the will from his safe and reviews it, suspicious of the recently changed terms that leave all of Jekyll’s possessions and wealth to Mr. Edward Hyde in the event of Jekyll’s death or disappearance. Hyde, the will’s sole benefactor, is the same man whom Enfield described earlier, and Utterson fears Jekyll is being blackmailed by Hyde.
Utterson decides to speak to Hyde directly, but when Utterson approaches him, Hyde snarls and refuses to speak to him. Two weeks later, Utterson attempts to discuss this matter with Jekyll himself, but Jekyll entreats him to drop the subject, saying that he can be rid of Mr. Hyde the moment he chooses, but he is interested in the young man’s potential. Utterson states he will never like Hyde, but promises to carry out the will as written.
A year later, Hyde is wanted for the murder of Sir Danvers Carew, one of Utterson’s clients. Hyde used a heavy cane to beat his victim to death. After the police find the mangled body of Hyde’s victim, the police contact Utterson, who confirms the identity of the body as Sir Danvers Carew and recognizes the broken cane as Jekyll's. Utterson leads the inspector to Hyde’s home. Finding that Hyde has vanished, they search his home and discover the other half of the cane hidden behind a door.
Jekyll gives Utterson a letter signed by Hyde, which states that Hyde has fled the country and apologizes for taking advantage of Jekyll’s generosity. Before leaving, Utterson stops to talk to Jekyll’s butler, Poole, and asks him to describe the messenger who delivered the letter. Poole tells him that no letter came by post, renewing Utterson’s fears that the letter came from Jekyll’s laboratory. That night, Utterson compares the handwriting of Hyde’s letter to an invitation signed by Jekyll and determines that Jekyll forged the letter to protect Hyde.
With the disappearance of Hyde, Jekyll seems to return to his happier, sociable self for a few months....
(The entire section is 1,251 words.)