Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Quotes

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1.

'I incline to Cain's heresy,' he used to say quaintly: 'I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.'


Utterson, Chapter 1

The Cain that Utterson refers to is a character from Genesis in the Bible. Cain and Abel were brothers, sons of Adam and Eve. When the two brothers offered sacrifices to God, God preferred Abel's sacrifice, and Cain killed his brother out of jealousy. For Utterson to refer to himself this way shows a fine and subtle sense of humor. It also quietly signals two of the book's themes: the battle of good and evil, and the divided self. As Cain and Abel were yoked together until one killed the other, so are Jekyll and Hyde connected.

2.

It wasn't like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut.


Enfield, Chapter 1

The term juggernaut was taken from a term in Indian culture, the Jagganath, which was an idol of the god Krishna. It was pulled through the streets on carts or "temple cars," and the very religious were said to throw themselves under the wheels of the carts to be crushed to death.

The term has come to mean any force that's so strong as to be unstoppable. Whether Enfield intended the general meaning or the more specific one—which many British readers would have known due to the British Empire's presence in India—using the term to describe Hyde's tramping on a little girl does a fine job of showing the inhumanity of his actions and how unstoppable he seems.

3.

'If you choose to make capital out of this accident,' said he, 'I am naturally helpless. No gentleman but wishes to avoid a scene,' says he. 'Name your figure.'


Mr. Hyde, Chapter 1

Mr. Enfield quotes Mr. Hyde as he describes to Utterson his first encounter with Hyde. These are Hyde's first words in the novella.

Three things make this statement striking. First, Hyde says them immediately after trampling a girl. The idea that he would still be concerned about being a gentleman signals how truly strange he is. Second, Hyde suggests he is "naturally helpless." For such a creature to be concerned about what is natural is, again, very strange. Finally, the idea that others would want to benefit from the girl's suffering—and that Hyde would know it—is also striking. It suggests that no matter how strange he seems, Hyde understands the group confronting him, and they all share common interests.

4.

I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgment. You start a question, and it's like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird ... is knocked on the head in his own back-garden and the family have to change their name. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.


Enfield, Chapter 1

Enfield's statement, which seems at first to be a kind of self-discipline, ends up supporting social hypocrisy. Enfield doesn't say that he doesn't ask questions in cases when there's nothing to ask. He says he's concerned that he might accidentally show that a respected family doesn't deserve the respect they are getting. In other words, he's supporting social lies over reality.

In addition, the more things look like "Queer Street" (which meant wrong or odd), the more people need to ask questions if they are going to understand them.

These lines are also important because Enfield's specific example of the danger of asking questions (an "old bird" getting "knocked on the head") foreshadows Hyde's murder of Danvers Carew.

5.

He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn't specify the point.


Enfield, Chapter 1

Enfield's description of Hyde fits a quality common to Gothic novels and horror fiction. Hyde's appearance is disturbing because it creates strong impressions, but somehow despite his being an educated and articulate man, Enfield can't identify exactly what it is that creates this impression. Other characters have similar responses to Hyde throughout the novella.

6.

'If he be Mr. Hyde,' he had thought, 'I shall be Mr. Seek.'


Utterson, Chapter 2

In this statement Utterson is acknowledging the appropriateness of Edward Hyde's name. He is someone who hides or is hidden. A closely related meaning is that despite the deaths and the shocking horror with which people respond to events, there's something childlike about this novella. The whole thing is like a giant game of Hide and Seek: where is Edward Hyde hiding?

Another meaning refers to transformation. Jekyll may have changed himself into Hyde, but Mr. Hyde changes others as well when they encounter him.

7.

There is something more, if I could find a name for it. God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic, shall we say? or can it be the old story of Dr. Fell? or is it the mere radiance of a foul soul that thus transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent? The last, I think; for, O my poor old Harry Jekyll, if ever I read Satan's signature upon a face, it is on that of your new friend.


Utterson, Chapter 2

Many characters try to describe Mr. Hyde, and several try to explain why his appearance is so disturbing. But Utterson makes the most frequent and extended attempts. Here he suggests three reasons why Hyde is disturbing to look at. The first is that rather than looking like a normal person, Hyde looks like a troglodyte, or cave man. This reintroduces the period concern over evolution. The second suggestion refers to a brief satirical poem from the 17th century in which the speaker says, "I do not like thee Dr. Fell/The reason why, I cannot tell." In short Utterson says he might dislike Hyde for no reason at all, or at least for no reason he can name. The third reason is simplest: Hyde is disturbing to look at because his spirit is evil or satanic.

8.

As for the moral turpitude that man unveiled to me, even with tears of penitence, I cannot, even in memory, dwell on it without a start of horror. I will say but one thing, Utterson, and that (if you can bring your mind to credit it) will be more than enough. The creature who crept into my house that night was, on Jekyll's own confession, known by the name of Hyde and hunted for in every corner of the land as the murderer of Carew.


Lanyon, Chapter 9

This passage demonstrates how Hyde affects people. Dr. Lanyon is a man of science, and yet learning about Hyde's actions are so disgusting that he can't even think of them without shuddering in horror. This completes the social spectrum in the novella: servants, lawyers, doctors, housekeepers, and parents are all horrified by Hyde. Since "Dr. Lanyon's Narrative" falls late in the work, it serves to remind readers of Hyde's character. They should read the final chapter asking, "Why would anyone ever want to be Mr. Hyde?"

9.

I have observed that when I wore the semblance of Edward Hyde, none could come near to me at first without a visible misgiving of the flesh. This, as I take it, was because all human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.


Dr. Jekyll, Chapter 10

These are the final lines of an extended passage in which Jekyll describes what Hyde was like. Earlier he describes Hyde as shorter and smaller, as if he were younger. He also, however, recognizes this face as his own and says it is "livelier" than his face as Jekyll.

This passage also tells the reader a great deal about Jekyll. He understands that people don't like Hyde, yet he still continues to transform into Hyde. Jekyll puts his own desires above the wishes of other people, which is exactly what Hyde does all the time. This shows Hyde really is part of him.

The quote additionally shows how Jekyll views Hyde and himself. He knows he is not all good; he sees himself, like all other people, as a mix of good and evil. Hyde is both unnatural and unique, because he is the only purely evil person anyone will ever encounter.

10.

Yes, I had gone to bed Henry Jekyll, I had awakened Edward Hyde. How was this to be explained? I asked myself; and then, with another bound of terror—how was it to be remedied?


Dr. Jekyll, Chapter 10

While other characters might find the moment when Hyde tramples the little girl to be a clear sign Jekyll has lost control, this is the moment when Jekyll himself recognizes this fact. It isn't that he becomes Hyde. It is that he becomes Hyde without his conscious choice.

Symbolically, it matters that the transformation happens in bed. No one is responsible for his or her dreams, and many people imagine doing things in dreams they would never do when awake. This is like a nightmare come to life. On the plot level, this event raises the stakes incredibly. If Jekyll can't control who he is anymore, his evil actions will be exposed.

11.

Men have before hired bravos to transact their crimes, while their own person and reputation sat under shelter. I was the first that ever did so for his pleasures. I was the first that could thus plod in the public eye with a load of genial respectability, and in a moment, like a schoolboy, strip off these lendings and spring headlong into the sea of liberty. But for me, in my impenetrable mantle, the safety was complete. Think of it—I did not even exist!


Dr. Jekyll, Chapter 10

This statement gives a clear sense of how Dr. Jekyll views his actions in creating Hyde. He minimizes his arrogance in tampering with the human psyche. Creating Hyde is, according to Jekyll, like hiring a thug to commit crimes.

This passage also shows why Hyde is so attractive to Jekyll—and might be to anyone. It's like being invisible. No matter what he does, Jekyll can completely escape blame for the actions. The passage also foreshadows later events—and does so with a tremendous irony. Jekyll's safety is not "complete," as he says here. In fact Hyde's actions put him in more trouble than anything he could have done on his own. And when he says he did not even exist, that is ironic because Hyde soon displaces Jekyll and becomes real while Jekyll fades away. Jekyll's only out is to kill himself, wiping out both his and Hyde's existence.

12.

Will Hyde die upon the scaffold? or will he find courage to release himself at the last moment? God knows; I am careless; this is my true hour of death, and what is to follow concerns another than myself. Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.


Dr. Jekyll, Chapter 10

These are the final words in the novella. Because they are read after Jekyll's death, there is dramatic irony to them. The reader already knows what happens, even if Jekyll dies without learning.

These words are also very profound. This is essentially a long and articulate farewell letter, or possibly a suicide note if Hyde becomes aware of what Jekyll is writing. As he closes his explanation of what he did and why, Jekyll also acknowledges that the life he once knew is over, and his actions were the ones to end it.

In classical Greek tragedy, the hero often had a tragic flaw that led to his fall and often his death. Whatever the specific details of that flaw, arrogance was almost always part of it—the idea that a man could control his own fate. Readers can see that sort of profound arrogance and its outcome here. Henry Jekyll thought he could split himself into two people, so he could indulge his base passions freely. He could, and he did. And he died as a result.

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