Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Chapter 9

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 9 of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Chapter 9 : Dr. Lanyon's Narrative | Summary

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Summary

The narrator changes abruptly as this chapter opens, with Dr. Lanyon picking up the story. He begins by explaining how he came in possession of a letter from Jekyll. The letter, dated the previous month, follows. In it Jekyll begs Lanyon to come as soon as he gets the letter, no matter what he's doing. When he gets there, Lanyon will find Poole waiting with a locksmith. Lanyon is to force the door to Jekyll's cabinet and remove the contents of the drawer labeled "E," which holds some powders and papers. He is then to return to his residence and wait for someone who will arrive to pick up the contents of the drawer.

After the letter Lanyon's account continues. As directed, he went to Jekyll's and gathered the materials. The tincture is something Jekyll made, and the papers are records of his experiments. Lanyon concludes that Jekyll is fighting some form of mental illness. He starts to worry and arms himself with a pistol.

Shortly after midnight someone knocks on the door. It is a small, disturbing man wearing clothes that are too big for him. Lanyon recounts that his appearance should be funny but is, in fact, revolting. The man pressures Lanyon for the things he got from Jekyll's, but Lanyon insists on an introduction first. The man introduces himself as Mr. Hyde. Satisfied, Lanyon shows him where the contents of the drawer are. Hyde asks for a "graduated glass" and uses it to mix the salts. The mixture bubbles, smokes, and changes color. The visitor then asks Lanyon if he should leave with the glass, or if "the greed of curiosity" has caught hold of Lanyon. Lanyon insists that he wants to see what happens next, even if it seems unbelievable. Hyde drinks the tincture, and transforms into Henry Jekyll.

"My life is shaken to the roots," Lanyon concludes as the chapter draws to an end.

Analysis

Readers will immediately notice the sudden shift in narrators as the anonymous third-person narrator who has told the story thus far is suddenly replaced by Dr. Lanyon's voice. His narrative reveals that Hyde and Jekyll are the same person, or that one can turn into the other through the use of some mixture or potion. It is like a second climax to the book. This information resolves a great deal of the narrative tension created throughout the book. Readers no longer have to wonder along with Utterson if Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll or fear along with Poole that Hyde killed Jekyll. They now know.

However, while Lanyon's narrative answers one set of questions, it creates another set. How did Jekyll do this, and why? These questions revolve around the themes of the divided self and good versus evil, and they carry a fairly strong emotional charge because the characters in the novella universally find Hyde revolting and disturbing. Why would a respected doctor like Jekyll, a man of science, willingly transform into this loathsome creature? This question also generates another set of questions that point the reader beyond the limits of the story. If someone like Jekyll can do this, can act this way, what about the honorable people readers meet every day on the street? Does each of them have a secret Mr. Hyde inside? Does the reader? Is evil within each person, and in the right circumstances could anyone become pure evil and—like Hyde—enjoy it?

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