Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 335
Mary Reilly is a young maid who works at Jekyll's household. She can read and write, though not expertly, and the novel takes the form of her memoirs. She is resourceful and loyal, a quiet but strong-willed woman. She is drawn to her master Dr. Jekyll, even in love with him. The two are attracted to each other, but cannot bridge the class divide between them. However, Mary's loyalty to her master is all-consuming, to the point where she risks her reputation by laying down beside his corpse after learning the truth of his double life.
Unlike Jekyll, Mary accepts the existence of good and evil within herself. She does not want to divorce herself from her dark side, since she knows the bad things that have happened in her life make her stronger, if sadder, as a person.
Mary's parents were a major factor in her becoming the woman she is during the course of the story. Her mother was a rather submissive but devoted woman. Her father was a cruel drunk, who at one point locked Mary in a closet with a rabid rat, which left her with scars on her hands. She has a complicated relationship with him, at times hating him, at other times pitying how low he fell.
Dr. Jekyll is Mary's employer and a respected scientist. He is obsessed with morality and often asks Mary her opinion on the divide between good and evil within the human soul.
Mr. Hyde is Jekyll's evil self, totally divorced from social breeding and goodness. He indulges his violent and sexual impulses freely. Mary is frightened of him.
Mr. Poole is Jekyll's class-conscious and uptight butler. He dislikes how Mary has the affection of his master and seeks to keep them apart.
Mrs. Farraday is a brothel owner who has dealings with Mr. Hyde. She represents a woman lower on the social totem pole than Mary, as well as social corruption. She's also a representative of Jekyll/Hyde's baser nature and social hypocrisy.