Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Course Hero. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Study Guide." October 27, 2016. Accessed September 22, 2023. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dr-Jekyll-and-Mr-Hyde/.


Course Hero, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Study Guide," October 27, 2016, accessed September 22, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dr-Jekyll-and-Mr-Hyde/.

Plot Summary

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

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Plot Summary

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, set in 19th-century London, is a highly suspenseful novella that blends science fiction, horror, and detective genres as it tells the peculiar story of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde.

Two men, Utterson and Enfield, are out for a walk. Enfield sees a door that reminds him of a story. He explains that one night when the streets were almost empty, a man ran into a little girl, knocked her down, trampled over her, and left. Enfield grabbed the man and, with a few others, blackmailed him for money for the girl's family. The man took them to a door, went through, and returned with some gold and a check for the rest. That man was Edward Hyde.

A lawyer, Utterson has held a will for Jekyll for some time, and the terms of the will have always concerned him: Jekyll's will leaves everything to Hyde if Jekyll dies or disappears. After what he has learned about Hyde, Utterson is more concerned than ever. As a result, he sets out to find Hyde, haunting the streets of London until he locates him. When he does, he thinks Hyde's face is very disturbing. Two weeks later when he dines with Jekyll, Utterson asks about Hyde. Jekyll doesn't tell him anything and even makes Utterson promise to care for Hyde if Jekyll disappears.

One night a year later, Hyde beats a respected gentleman to death. After the police find a letter on the body addressed to Utterson, they contact Utterson, who identifies the body. He then takes the officers to Hyde's residence, which shows signs of a hasty escape.

Utterson visits Jekyll and asks if he has heard about the murder or if he is hiding the man. Jekyll swears he is not. He lets Utterson read a letter from Hyde that seems to indicate their relationship is over. Utterson is relieved but only for a few minutes. His head clerk says the handwriting in the letter appears to be Jekyll's. Utterson concludes that Jekyll is covering for a murderer.

Two months pass in which Jekyll seems to have returned to normal, and then suddenly he shuts Utterson out. Utterson visits their mutual friend, Dr. Lanyon, only to find the doctor very unhealthy, as if from a great shock. Lanyon and Jekyll are no longer talking, but Lanyon won't tell Utterson why. Utterson writes Jekyll, asking for an explanation, but all Jekyll says is that he agrees the friendship is over. A few weeks later Lanyon dies. At that point Utterson opens an envelope Lanyon had left to be opened upon his death; it contains another letter to be opened upon Jekyll's death or disappearance.

Some time later Utterson and Enfield go for a walk and again pass the door to Jekyll's laboratory. They start talking to Jekyll, who is sitting in a window, but then Jekyll's face suddenly takes on the expression of great terror. The window slams shut and he disappears. Utterson and Enfield walk on, confused and worried.

One evening some time later, Jekyll's servant Poole visits Utterson at his home. Poole worries that something has happened to his master and asks Utterson to come with him. When they arrive at Jekyll's house, Poole knocks on his cabinet door. Utterson agrees with Poole that it is Hyde's voice, not Jekyll's, that they hear. They break down the door and find Hyde dead but still convulsing from the poison he has taken. There's no sign of Jekyll. The only thing they find is an envelope addressed to Utterson that contains three enclosures. The first is Jekyll's revised will, which leaves everything to Utterson. The second is a note to read Lanyon's letter that Utterson has at home. The third is Jekyll's "confession."

Utterson returns home and read's Lanyon's letter, in which the doctor describes a service he performed for Jekyll. Lanyon went to Jekyll's cabinet above his lab, took out a drawer, and returned home, where he waited for a messenger who would pick it up. When the messenger arrived, Lanyon watched as the messenger, whom he identifies as Hyde, mixed a potion from ingredients in the drawer and drank it. Hyde transformed before Lanyon's eyes into Dr. Jekyll.

Utterson then reads Jekyll's explanation of everything that has happened. It explains how Jekyll had lived a double life, acting one way in private and another in public. His scientific studies led him to realize all people had these two identities, and he found a way to split them in two, creating a second face and body. He made a drug that let him change from Henry Jekyll to Edward Hyde. Hyde was younger, more passionate, and much more wicked. Jekyll enjoyed having this outlet for his passions, and he indulged his experience of Hyde until he killed Carew. Then he tried to put Hyde aside. However, he soon learned that he'd upset the balance of his identity so that Hyde was now his natural shape. Jekyll found himself changing into Hyde without his potion. He started to make plans in case Hyde took permanent control; he also tried to create more of his potion to gain more control. However, the new potion was not effective. He took the last of the original potion to gain enough control to write this record of his deeds. One of the entities then takes arsenic to kill them both; Hyde is the one found dying.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Plot Diagram

ClimaxFalling ActionRising ActionIntroductionResolution2134675


1 Mr. Hyde tramples a little girl.

Rising Action

2 Mr. Hyde kills Utterson's client, Sir Danvers Carew.

3 Utterson realizes Dr. Jekyll forged a letter for Mr. Hyde.

4 Lanyon watches Mr. Hyde transform into Dr. Jekyll.


5 Utterson and Poole break down the door to Dr. Jekyll's lab.

Falling Action

6 Dr. Jekyll kills himself.


7 Dr. Jekyll's research explains his transformation.

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