Category Archives: Commentary

Detailed questions and answers on “Henry Jekyll’s full statement of the case”

Comprehension questions

What was Jekyll’s upbringing like? Why were the seeds of him becoming “Jekyll and Hyde” sown then?

What experiments did Jekyll pursue and why did other scientists like Lanyon regard him as misguided for doing them?

What are Jekyll’s emotions when he tramples on the girl talked about in the first chapter?

What were the circumstances that led up to the murder of Carew?

What does Jekyll decide to do after the murder of Carew?

What evidence is there that Jekyll is being taken over by Hyde?

What happens in Regent’s Park that shocks Jekyll so much?

What does Jekyll feel towards Hyde and what does Hyde feel towards Jekyll?

Analytical questions

What evidence is there that Jekyll is an “unreliable narrator”?

Why do you think Stevenson wrote this last section of the novel when the reader already knows the answer to the mystery?

How does Stevenson build up a sense of drama and horror in this section?

How does Stevenson build up sympathy for Jekyll and, to a lesser extent, Hyde?

Evaluative questions

How successful is this last section of the novel?

Creative response tasks

Write Hyde’s diary for the events described in this novel, describing his feelings when he tramples upon the girl, when he has to pay compensation, when he meets Utterson, when he murders Carew, when he goes on his nightly adventures, and when he returns in Regent’s Park and visits Lanyon. Describe his feelings towards Jekyll.

 

You can watch YouTube videos I made about this section here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G842fM-0xuU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tm9zkeIq-fE

 

 

POSSIBLE ANSWERS in brief & bold

 

Comprehension questions

What was Jekyll’s upbringing like? Why were the seeds of him becoming “Jekyll and Hyde” sown then? He always had two sides to his nature: he had a “gaiety of disposition”, which meant in those days that he wanted to be sexually promiscuous with the opposite sex, but he always wanted to be respectable and an important, high status member of society. The two things were only possible if he hid his reckless, wild side from the general public. Thus we can see that he had a “duality” of nature: two sides, a side that wanted to “appear good”, and a side that wanted to commit what was regarded then as “sinful” or “bad” acts.

What experiments did Jekyll pursue and why did other scientists like Lanyon regard him as misguided for doing them? He pursued “transcendental” or “mystical” experiments which attempted to separate the different sides of the human soul. He was regarded as being unscientific because what he was searching for was not viewed as a valid topic for scientific study.

What are Jekyll’s emotions when he tramples on the girl talked about in the first chapter? He doesn’t appear to really care about the girl at all and views the matter as a problem only because he was nearly lynched for being violent to her.

What were the circumstances that led up to the murder of Carew? Jekyll had not taken the drug from some time, vowing to give it up altogether, but when he did “give in” and take it again its strength was greatly increased because he hadn’t taken it in a long while. This meant that its effect was much stronger and this, in turn, led to him murdering Carew without any reason at all.

What does Jekyll decide to do after the murder of Carew? He decides to give up taking the drug altogether

What evidence is there that Jekyll is being taken over by Hyde? Sometimes he would go to sleep as Henry Jekyll but then wake up as Mr Hyde.

What happens in Regent’s Park that shocks Jekyll so much? He turns into Hyde suddenly during the day. He had not taken the drug. Hyde is wanted for murder and therefore is terrified of being caught and hung for the crime.

What does Jekyll feel towards Hyde and what does Hyde feel towards Jekyll? Jekyll feels “paternal” towards Hyde: he wants to indulge Hyde like a kind father might indulge a spoilt son. Hyde has nothing but contempt for Jekyll and would get rid of him if he weren’t killing himself as well.

 

Analytical questions

What evidence is there that Jekyll is an “unreliable narrator”? Jekyll is a narrator who does not fully describe things that might make him uncomfortable. For example, he only makes very short references to incidents that occupy a large part of the first part of the book: the trampling of the child, the murder of Carew and Lanyon’s response to seeing Hyde turn into Jekyll are only briefly described.  He appears to “skim” over these details because he doesn’t want to think about the implications of what he is done. He comes across as a very selfish and self-obsessed man who cares much more about not being caught and his own enjoyment than other people: he never expresses guilt for what he has done, only regret that things have turned out badly for him.

Why do you think Stevenson wrote this last section of the novel when the reader already knows the answer to the mystery? Stevenson aimed to write much more than a horror story: he wanted to write a story which was a “psychological fable about the human condition”. This section attempts to show the workings of Jekyll’s mind and reveals that far from being the opposite of Hyde, Jekyll always had “Hyde” hidden inside him. Behind the veneer of respectability lurked a monster.

How does Stevenson build up a sense of drama and horror in this section? The horror in this section is largely psychological. We feel horrified by the way in which Jekyll seems to love and care for Hyde, by the way in which he dismisses his crimes as unimportant and indeed at one point talks about how happy he felt when he was murdering Carew. Jekyll’s self-pitying words are nauseating to read and make the reader angry that a man who had so much could enjoy becoming a psycho-path.

How does Stevenson build up sympathy for Jekyll and, to a lesser extent, Hyde? We feel sympathy for the way in which Jekyll becomes “corrupted” by the drug and the opportunities it offers to him. Even though he has confessed to enjoying murdering Carew, we can’t help but feel a degree of sympathy for him when he talks about how degraded and humiliated he has become by his experiment. While we may hate Jekyll, we still see and, to a certain extent, feel his pain.

 

Evaluative questions

How successful is this last section of the novel? While the first half of the novel relied upon the classic tropes of the horror/mystery story to keep the reader interested, this last section maintains the reader’s interest by getting us to think very carefully about Jekyll’s state of mind and his perspective upon events we have already read about. Furthermore, this narrative “fills in the holes” of the narrative: we still don’t quite know why Hyde had to demand Lanyon fetched the drugs from Jekyll’s house. We realise now that Jekyll had turned into Hyde in Regent’s Park and was desperate to change back to Jekyll but had no safe way of getting home. One of the chief pleasures in re-reading the novel is thinking again and again about Jekyll’s predicament, which is possibly a predicament of many of us: how can we do what we want and yet be accepted in the eyes of society? Often our desires are in conflict with what society expects from us. This last part of the narrative explores this issue and reveals that we are all in a tragic situation like Jekyll: our inner-most desires will, in the end, kill us.

 

For more on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde please read my book Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: The Study Guide Edition available in paperback and e-Book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1494767910

My play-script version of the novel enables students to read the book in groups and understand it as well as the context of the times: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1495975010