Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 238
Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin is a re-telling of the famous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, as seen through the eyes of a maid named Mary Reilly. Mary is a young woman of undetermined age who we soon learn was beaten and abused by her own father before she came to work for Dr. Jekyll. Martin gives us some insight into her character here, when she writes that the abuse has left Mary
with this sadness which has been hard to bear.
We meet other members of the staff, including the butler, another maid, and a cook. All seem to enjoy working for Dr. Jekyll, whom Mary refers to as "Master," but when he invites the strange Mr. Hyde to live there as his new aide, she begins to feel uncomfortable. Yet Mary still cannot help but study him:
there was something that seemed to hold me still and make me stare, as a rabbit will stare stunned by a torch light.'
As Mr. Hyde's presence becomes more worrisome, the house seems even more dark and dreary. When she notices an unused, empty room in the home, she says:
To see a room no one cares for is to me like seeing a child or an animal that mun struggle without love, or perhaps it is because the rooms of those who don’t care for life—or for anyone in it—are so often neglected.