In this Gothic novella, Robert Louis Stevenson combines the horrors of the human soul with a disgust for the Victorian importance of reputation. Stevenson delves into the darkest depths of humanity, and seems to discover what Sigmund Freud would not publish for another 15 years: the repression of the id, or the instinctive side of human nature, by the super-ego, or the part of us that holds on to the cultural ideals and rules we were raised with. Stevenson’s wife noted in her reading of his first draft of the novella that it read like an allegory, and indeed, it reflected the Victorian struggle of the "double self."
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Summary | Jekyll and Hyde summary
On his weekly walk with his friend and kinsman Enfield, Mr. Utterson, a lawyer, finds himself standing in front of a dark and mysterious door on an otherwise nice street. Enfield relates a night when he ran into a man who had to go into that door. He had knocked over a young girl, and rather than cause a scene, he paid off her family using a check in the name of a well-established man in London. Enfield relates that the man who knocked the girl over was named Hyde.
O God! O God!
With the information from Enfield, Utterson grows increasingly concerned about his friend Dr. Jekyll, who had recently changed his will to instruct that if anything happened to him, everything should be given to Hyde. Utterson is worried that Jekyll is being blackmailed by Hyde. Furthermore, he is increasingly alarmed by Hyde’s appearance, which seems to summon horror and hatred in anyone who observes him.
Late one night, a maid of Dr. Jekyll’s witnesses the brutal beating murder of a Sir Danvers Carew by Edward Hyde. Utterson goes to Jekyll, who assures him that Hyde is gone for good. He gives Utterson a letter from Hyde, which Utterson later suspects Jekyll has forged. Jekyll’s servants are frightened by things they’ve heard and seen in Jekyll’s laboratory, so they summon Utterson. They knock down the door to the laboratory and find Hyde dead from poison.
After Hyde’s disappearance, Jekyll sent a desperate letter to Dr. Lanyon, begging him to get a drawer from his laboratory. Hyde comes to pick it up, mixes up the contents, and drinks the mixture. He transforms into Henry Jekyll in front of Lanyon’s eyes. Lanyon is so distraught that he dies a few weeks later. He relates all of these events to Utterson in a letter to be opened only in the death or disappearance of Dr. Jekyll.
Utterson next reads a letter from Dr. Jekyll, which was left to him in the laboratory, along with a new copy of Jekyll’s will, leaving everything to Utterson. It relates that all his life, Jekyll felt that there were two sides to himself. Through various experiments, he unleashes Mr. Hyde, who is pure evil and thrilling to be. Eventually, however, Hyde begins to take over Jekyll, and Jekyll begins to fear and hate him.
Jekyll refuses to change into Hyde for about 2 months, but soon, the temptation takes back over. Suppressed for so long, Hyde, in a rage, murders Sir Carew. This scares Jekyll into killing Hyde off for good, but eventually, he gives into temptation again. After this, Hyde begins to take over Jekyll every few hours, and Jekyll runs out of the salt for the solution. He leaves the letter and changed will for Utterson, knowing that Henry Jekyll will soon be gone forever.