Tag Archives: The Last Night

Detailed question and answers on “The Last Night”

Comprehension questions

Why does Poole ask for help? What is his mood?

What is the weather like?

Why are all the servants afraid?

What has Poole had to do for his master during these past few weeks?

What do Jekyll’s notes to the chemist reveal about his state of mind?

What has Jekyll being doing these past few weeks? Why does Poole call him “it”?

Why and how do they break down the door?

When they break into the “cabinet” what do they find?

What evidence is there that Hyde has killed himself?

What evidence is there that Jekyll has been there very recently?

Analytical questions

How and why does Stevenson use the “pathetic fallacy” in this chapter?

How does Stevenson make this chapter so dramatic and yet manages to prolong the mystery?

Evaluative questions

How successful is Stevenson is creating an atmosphere of horror?

Creative response tasks

Write a story or poem called “The Disappearance” in which you describe the room of someone who has disappeared.

Write Poole’s diary entry for this chapter, and other chapters where relevant. In the diary, get Poole to describe his relationship with Jekyll and his thoughts about his master.

 

You can watch a YouTube video I made about this section here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQMt54K_vgw

 

POSSIBLE ANSWERS in brief & bold

 

Comprehension questions

Why does Poole ask for help? What is his mood? He asks for help from Utterson because he suspects that there has been “foul play”: he is very worried for the safety of his master.

What is the weather like? It is a clear night with a full moon and “diaphanous” or transparent clouds. It is very windy.

Why are all the servants afraid? They think something terrible has happened to Dr Jekyll and don’t know what to do.

What has Poole had to do for his master during these past few weeks? He has had to take notes to the chemist which demand drugs which are “pure”.

What do Jekyll’s notes to the chemist reveal about his state of mind? He shows that he is very agitated because he has scribbled on the notes that he must have pure drugs using the phrase “for God’s sake” in wild handwriting.

What has Jekyll being doing these past few weeks? Why does Poole call him “it”? Jekyll has shut himself away and won’t see anyone, even his servants. Poole believes that Jekyll has been “made away with” – either kidnapped or killed – and that Hyde, who he calls “it”, is living there.

Why and how do they break down the door? They believe Jekyll has been murdered. They break down the door with an axe.

When they break into the “cabinet” what do they find? They find a very “normal” or commonplace set up: a kettle on the oven, a fire in the grate, and papers on a business desk. The only strange thing initially they see are the chemicals in their “presses”. Then they discover the dead body of Hyde in the larger clothes of Jekyll, twitching in the last throes of life.

What evidence is there that Hyde has killed himself? There is a “crush phial” in his hand which has contained poison.

What evidence is there that Jekyll has been there very recently? They find a letter written by him that day.

 

Analytical questions

How and why does Stevenson use the “pathetic fallacy” in this chapter?

The wind is very “wild” and strong and it is a clear night with a full moon: the wind possibly could suggest the violence of Edward Hyde.

How does Stevenson make this chapter so dramatic and yet manages to prolong the mystery? The chapter is punctuated by a number of gripping incidents. First, Poole’s appearance at Utterson’s door is dramatic because it is so unusual for the butler to leave Jekyll’s house without his master’s permission. The story he tells is wild and incomplete: he says that there has been “foul play” but we don’t know exactly what “foul play” there has been. The reader begins to wonder whether Jekyll has been murdered or kidnapped by Hyde? Poole’s mood adds to the tension: he is clearly in a state of near panic, which is unusual for this butler who is normally so calm. Second, Stevenson’s descriptions of the places and the weather add to the dramatic tension because he describes a clear windy night with a full moon: this setting suggests that something supernatural is afoot. Other descriptions of the house, the laboratory and Jekyll’s quiet room with the dead body of Hyde in it are very evocative. They provoke many questions which don’t have answers: why is Hyde dead and not Jekyll? Stevenson’s description of the servants huddled in the doorway adds to the sense of crisis and bemusement: why are they so frightened? Why don’t they know what is going on? Then, Stevenson piles on the mystery when we listen to Poole’s full explanation: he believes that Jekyll has been murdered by Hyde, but we wonder how the notes to the chemist, written in Jekyll’s hand, have been written. Further tension is created by the strange, strangulated sound of Jekyll’s voice pleading with Utterson to leave him alone. Stevenson’s description of the breaking down of the door is incredibly powerful: he describes the violence with which Poole attacks the door in vivid imagery, deploying dynamic verbs to evoke a sense of violence. The door “leapt” off its hinges: this personification of the door adds to the sense of drama; even the door is in shock! Then the ensuing description of the quiet laboratory and the small body of Hyde twitching in the big clothes of Jekyll provide a nice contrast to the violence of the attack on the door. There is something horrifying and pitiable about the description of Hyde’s body twitching in the huge clothes of Jekyll. It is also deeply mysterious: how and why has this happened? The mystery is furthered when we learn about the will being made out to Utterson and the fact that Jekyll himself is nowhere to be seen.

 

Evaluative questions

How successful is Stevenson is creating an atmosphere of horror? The horror is generated not by description of lots of “blood and gore” but by the fact that we begin to realise that something truly terrifying has happened to both Hyde and Jekyll. Hyde who had seemed so indestructible is now lying dead in the huge clothes of Jekyll. Further horror is generated by the servants’ reactions to Hyde and Jekyll: Poole, normally so calm, is in a state of total panic, while the other servants seemed to have completely imploded, huddling as they do in the doorway. Stevenson is successful in creating a sense of horror in the way he develops the mystery and forces us to think so hard about what has happened to Jekyll. The horror comes from us thinking about how this once respected man, who was so in command of his life, has been brought down so low: demanding drugs all the time and falling victim to the machinations of Hyde.

 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

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