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Chapters VIII - X

Chapter VIII - The Last Night


  • One evening Utterson is sitting by his fireside (as he often does, illustrating his need to be near light, warmth, understanding and society) when Jekyll’s butler Poole visits him.  Poole is agonising about some ‘foul play’ that he wishes to show Utterson.

  • The night is rife with wildness and cold, perhaps a pathetic fallacy for the chaos omnipresent in the dark heart of Victorian London.  

  • Utterson has ‘a crushing anticipation of calamity’, alliteration, metaphor and emphatic language used to impress upon the reader his deep anxiety about what he is about to see. 

  • When they arrive at Jekyll’s house, they are greeted by ‘servants, men and women, stood huddled together like a flock of sheep’, clearly terrified.  As usual, Utterson is more concerned about the ‘very unseemly’ appearance of this than about what it portends. We may see here, that (together with his unwillingness to break down Jekyll’s door), Utterson reflects a Victorian preference for order and etiquette above the truth.  The reader follows Utterson through the house, anticipation mounting, as they reach the laboratory.  

  • A voice answers from within, telling them to go away, yet Poole asks Utterson whether that was Jekyll’s voice, and Utterson notes that ‘It seems much changed’.  Jekyll, it seems, has been gone for eight days, and someone else has replaced him in the room, and must supposedly have murdered Jekyll. Poole seems to sense that the person in the cabinet is not human, calling them ‘him, or it, whatever it is that lives in the cabinet’.  

  • When Poole saw the man the other day, he says it was as though he has ‘ a mask upon his face’ - interestingly inverting the idea that Jekyll is Hyde’s mask, Hyde is now Jekyll’s.  The mask represents the uncanny - something that isn’t quite right. Hyde is Jekyll, but not quite him - the dark part of him that cannot be reconciled with normal understanding of the self.  Again we have an animalistic simile to describe Hyde who cried ‘out like a rat’.  

  • Utterson guesses that Jekyll is ill, and that is why he is frantically searching for a drug to cure him - he cannot accept Poole’s assertion that ‘that thing was not my master’.

  • Poole and Utterson resolve to break down the cabinet door, though both are wary of the strange and disconcerting fear that Hyde inspires in them.

  • Structure is used in these chapters to break down the men’s movements into short, chronologically ordered instances, drawing out the length of time as they approach the laboratory and increasing tension.  London also reappears in descriptions as though from a nightmare, the world of the strange and dark unconscious again breaking through into the realm of the everyday.

  • The men break down the door and juxtaposing the ‘quiet lamplight, a good fire flowing and chattering on the hearth’ is the body of Edward Hyde, dressed in the doctor’s clothes.  It seems that he has killed himself.  

  • As the men search the room, they find a new will made out to Utterson, and a note telling him to read the letter he received from Lanyon.  Yet even now, Utterson does not understand what has happened - this revelation will only come from Jekyll himself in the final chapter.


Chapter IX - Dr. Lanyon’s Narrative


  • For the first time, we get to read the words of Jekyll to Lanyon, showing the former as an honourable man (‘there was never a day when, if you had said to me, ‘Jekyll, my life, my honour, my reason, depend upon you,’ I would not have sacrificed my left hand to help you’) in a desperate situation.

  • Jekyll asks Lanyon to steal a drawer from his cabinet, and present it to a man who will come to him.  

  • Lanyon examines the strange contents of the drawer, when a man comes in (Hyde), and Lanyon seems suspicious of him, keeping ‘my hand ready on my weapon.’  While Hyde is small, he is muscular, resembling perhaps an ape. Like everyone else, Lanyon cannot describe exactly what appals him about Hyde, but now has ‘reason to believe the cause to lie much deeper in the nature of man’.  Interestingly, we simply have ‘man’ here, rather than ‘the man’. Is mankind to some degree disgusted with itself?

  • Hyde asks Lanyon whether he is willing to let him go without seeing what will happen when he drinks a mixture he has made from the chemicals in the cabinet, or whether he wishes to see ‘a new province of knowledge’ which would ‘stagger the unbelief of Satan’.  Curiosity, as Hyde puts it, is ‘greed’ - too much knowledge is a dangerous thing for humanity.

  • Mocking Lanyon’s disbelief in the supernatural, Hyde swallows the mixture and his ‘features seemed to melt and alter’ before turning into Henry Jekyll.  It was this sight that, it transpires, led to Lanyon’s death.


Chapter X - Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement Of The Case


  • Unlike the third person narrative of the previous chapters, the last chapter takes the form of Jekyll’s last statement.  It opens with an account of his good fortune, having been born with ‘excellent parts, inclined by nature to industry’ and ‘with every guarantee of an honourable and distinguished future’.  

  • His fault, Jekyll says, was ‘gaiety’ which made it hard for him to reconcile this with his pride, and so he began to conceal his pleasures from the world.  Gaiety here is euphemistic for indecent actions, suggesting that before his transformation, even Jekyll’s language breaks down when confronting his darker self.  Society cannot even bear to speak of an honourable man’s indiscretions. Before Hyde even existed, therefore, Jekyll was guilty of a ‘profound duplicity’, suggesting both a facade which he put on, and the double nature of his person.  It was, Jekyll states, his ‘shame’ which led him to conceal seemingly trivial ‘irregularities’, yet for the reader it clearly shows that way in which Victorian social manners led Jekyll to concealment, and then to a splitting of a self which could not be reconciled.  

  • Crucially: “I was in no sense a hypocrite; both sides of me were in dead earnest; I was no more myself when I laid aside restraint and plunged in shame, than when I laboured, in the eye of day, at the furtherance of knowledge or the relief of sorrow and suffering.”  Neither Jekyll’s unrestrained side, nor his industrious side are more or less genuine. The man is both extremes, even though he cannot accept one half of himself - turning it instead into the dastardly Hyde. Hyde, we may see, is what happens when shame at perfectly human foibles is repressed too much. 

  • In the quote that perhaps sums up the whole novel - “I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”

  • Yet Jekyll goes even further than this, suggesting that man may actually be made of many impulses that he has not yet discovered, but as far as he has seen, there is a ‘primitive duality of man’.  

  • Jekyll, upon this realisation, seeks to separate the two sides of himself - the ‘unjust’ and the ‘upright twin’.  Yet, as he discovers, the two can never be entirely separated. The bad will always be linked to the good, even if just through rumour.  We can never be free of our darker selves. Thus, “In the agonised womb of consciousness, these polar twins should be continuously struggling.”

  • Jekyll finds a drug that will separate the two halves of the self, rending the ‘fortress of identity’.  This is a curious quote - it initially suggests that identity is something solid and unyielding, yet a fortress is designed to withstand attack.  Identity then is something constantly under attack from within (the bad constantly seeking to crush the veneer of goodness that men seek to be known for) and from without (society forcing the concealment of a man’s bad self).   Interestingly, Jekyll does not truly succeed - it is only his bad half which is made real, Jekyll himself remains a mixture of good and evil. We might analyse this perhaps as showing that man can never be entirely good, if Jekyll and Hyde form a good-evil duality.  Alternately, we may see Hyde as not Jekyll’s ‘evil’ self, but his subconscious, primitive self instead.    

  • Jekyll describes the transformation into Hyde as ‘incredibly sweet’, full of ‘sensual images’, yet with the knowledge that he was ‘tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil’.  

  • The mirror which Utterson remarked upon was brought to the laboratory ‘for the very purpose of these transformations’.  To some extent it may be seen as symbolic of Jekyll’s experiments and of the novel itself - an attempt to hold a mirror to the true faces of man.  

  • Jekyll explains Hyde’s small stature as his evil side was ‘less developed’ in life, as he had practised it less.  He also explains the revulsion others feel towards Hyde as “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.” 

  • As much as Hyde disgusts Jekyll, we can also see his feelings of utter liberty when becoming him, comparing removing his moral urges to stripping off clothes and springing “headlong into the sea of liberty”.  Jekyll also feels no guilt for Hyde’s actions, believing they were Hyde’s fault alone. We may then question the extent to which he even accepts Hyde as a part of himself, though he seems to acknowledge it in other places.

  • Jekyll narrates the story of how, gradually, he began to turn into Hyde without even taking the drug which he had created.

  • “To cast in my lot with Jekyll, was to die to those appetites which I had long secretly indulged and had of late begun to pamper. To cast it in with Hyde, was to die to a thousand interests and aspirations, and to become, at a blow and forever, despised and friendless.”

  • The above quotation explains Jekyll’s difficulty in choosing which identity to choose - to be Jekyll, yet not be able to indulge his reckless desires, or to be Hyde, and to lose all love and friendship.  With difficulty, he chose to be Jekyll, yet having unleashed Hyde it was difficult to keep him imprisoned. We might compare this with the semantic field of imprisonment that exists through the novel - it is always a struggle to restrain our worst impulses.  Unwillingly, Hyde is made more powerful by repression, and eventually bursts out when Jekyll gives into temptation to take the drug again (‘the spirit of hell awoke in me and raged’) to murder Carew in a ‘divided ectsasy of mind’.  

  • “It was as an ordinary secret sinner that I at last fell before the assaults of temptation.”  Whilst initially innocuous, this line is actually extremely telling. Jekyll, while his feats may be supernatural and extraordinary is, like all mankind, a ‘secret sinner’, hiding his foul deeds behind a facade of respectability.

  • By this point, Jekyll has begun to lose control of changing into Hyde, always awakening as him.  This suggests the way in which the unconscious is let loose in sleep. Hyde despises Jekyll, yet is terrified of death, and so occasionally retreats into him, even while he becomes stronger with Jekyll’s sickness. 

  • Eventually, the impure salt (whose unknown impurity allowed the transformation) runs out, preventing Jekyll from remaining himself.  Thus, he knows, that Hyde will eventually kill himself, unable to live without Jekyll to shield him. Even the inner beast needs society to protect it from its own actions. 

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