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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Summary


Here you will find a The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde summary (Robert Louis Stevenson's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Summary Overview

During a regular stroll, a responsible and trusted attorney, Mr. Utterson, hears a horrific story from his friend Enfield about a terrifying individual, Mr. Hyde, who violently assaults a young girl. This man slips into a doorway and reappears to compensate the girl's family with a cheque endorsed by a reputable man. Intriguingly, Mr. Hyde is the beneficiary of a will belonging to Dr. Jekyll, a close friend and client of Utterson. As a result, Utterson starts having nightmares featuring a faceless figure terrorizing the city. Wanting to unravel the mystery, Utterson goes to Jekyll and their mutual acquaintance Dr. Lanyon for more information. Utterson finds Hyde's appearance grotesque and disturbing. Jekyll advises Utterson not to worry about Hyde, but soon Hyde is suspected of brutally murdering Sir Danvers Carew, another client of Utterson. A note allegedly from Hyde to Jekyll expresses remorse and bids farewell, but Utterson's clerk notices a striking resemblance between Hyde's and Jekyll's handwriting. Jekyll seems relieved for a few months but then abruptly starts declining visitors. The story takes a drastic turn when Lanyon dies due to a shock related to Jekyll and leaves a letter for Utterson, to be opened after Jekyll's demise. Jekyll's butler, Mr. Poole, informs Utterson about Jekyll's prolonged seclusion in his laboratory and his unrecognizable voice. They break into the laboratory only to find Hyde's body, dressed in Jekyll's attire, and a letter from Jekyll. The letters reveal that Jekyll was trying to separate his good side from his darker impulses, leading to his transformation into Hyde. Initially, the transformations were by choice, but they soon became involuntary. Jekyll decided to stop becoming Hyde after involuntarily transforming and killing Carew. As the transformations became more frequent and difficult to reverse, Jekyll found himself trapped. The letters end with Jekyll anticipating his permanent transformation into Hyde and the end of his own life.

chapter 1

Mr. Utterson, a stern yet admirable London lawyer, is known for his loyalty towards his friends, regardless of their tainted reputations. He enjoys a close-knit relationship with his relative, Mr. Enfield. Despite their differences, their weekly silent walks are a cherished routine for both. One Sunday, their stroll takes them past a dilapidated building in an upscale locality. Enfield shares a peculiar incident related to this building. One late night, he spotted a deformed man brutally knock down a young girl. Enfield managed to catch the man, who was then surrounded by a furious mob. The man's unpleasing appearance made him an instant object of loathing. Sensing danger, the man offered to pay a sum of hundred pounds to pacify the crowd. He procured the money from the rundown building. Interestingly, the check carried the signature of a highly esteemed individual, confirming its authenticity. Enfield suspects that the repugnant man, identified as Hyde, may have blackmailed the owner of the signature. Inquisitive, Utterson probes further into the incident. Enfield struggles to define Hyde's repulsiveness, stating, "I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why." Upon learning Hyde's identity, Utterson admits to knowing him and infers the name on the check. However, adhering to their principle of non-interference in others' affairs, both men decide never to bring up the issue again.

chapter 2

After his chat with Enfield, Utterson revisits a will he prepared for Dr. Jekyll, his dear friend. It specifies that if Jekyll dies or vanishes, his assets will pass immediately to Mr. Edward Hyde. This odd will has disturbed Utterson for a while. With his newfound knowledge of Hyde's actions, his concern intensifies, believing that Hyde holds unusual sway over Jekyll. Wanting to solve this mystery, he visits another friend of Jekyll's, Dr. Lanyon, who has no idea who Hyde is and has stopped communicating with Jekyll due to a professional disagreement. Lanyon dismisses Jekyll’s latest scientific studies as “unscientific balderdash.” In his sleep, nightmares plague Utterson. He dreams of a faceless man trampling a child and the same faceless figure commanding Jekyll to awake beside his bed. Utterson starts frequenting the dilapidated building Enfield saw Hyde enter, hoping to spot Hyde. When Hyde, a diminutive man, finally shows himself, Utterson introduces himself as Jekyll's friend. Hyde reciprocates the greeting without lifting his head. Utterson asks Hyde to show his face so he can recognize him in the future. Hyde obliges, and Utterson is repulsed and horrified, though he can't pinpoint why. Hyde then gives Utterson his address, which Utterson takes as Hyde's eagerness for Jekyll's death and the execution of his will. Following this meeting, Utterson visits Jekyll. It is now revealed what Utterson already knew: the dilapidated building Hyde visits is in fact Jekyll’s laboratory, attached to his well-maintained townhouse. Utterson is let in by Mr. Poole, Jekyll’s butler, but Jekyll is not there. Poole reveals that Hyde has a key to the laboratory and the staff are instructed to obey Hyde. Troubled, Utterson returns home. He suspects that Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll, possibly due to some past misdeeds of Jekyll.

chapter 3

A fortnight later, Jekyll hosts a grand dinner gathering. Utterson remains post-event for a private discussion. They touch upon the will, and Jekyll attempts to jest about it. However, he turns ashen when Utterson reveals he's been "learning something of young Hyde." Jekyll clarifies that Hyde's situation is unique and discussion won't resolve it. He firmly states that "the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde." Yet, Jekyll underscores his current fascination with Hyde and his intent to continue supporting him. He makes Utterson swear to fulfill his last will and testament.

chapter 4

A year passes and a maid, perched by her window in the early morning, observes a murder on the street beneath. A diminutive, sinister man, recognizable as Mr. Hyde, violently beats an elderly man to death with a stick after a brief exchange of greetings. The victim, identified by lawyer Utterson as his client Sir Danvers Carew, a well-liked Parliament member, has a letter in his possession addressed to Utterson. Utterson, retaining Hyde's address, escorts the police to a rundown dwelling in a seedy part of the city. He muses on the bizarre fact that the person who lives in such destitution is the beneficiary of Henry Jekyll's wealth. Hyde's unpleasant landlady allows them entry but Hyde is absent. They discover the murder tool and burned remnants of Hyde's checkbook. An inquiry at the bank uncovers that Hyde still maintains an account there. The inspector reckons he just needs to wait for Hyde to surface for a withdrawal. But Hyde remains elusive in the following days and weeks; he has no known relatives or allies, and the descriptions from those who have seen him are inconsistent, except for the unanimous agreement on his malevolent appearance.

chapter 5

Utterson visits Jekyll and discovers him looking gravely sick in his lab. Jekyll quickly declares Hyde's departure and the termination of their association, reassuring Utterson that Hyde is untraceable by the authorities. He presents Utterson with a letter from Hyde that he fears could tarnish his image if given to the police. The letter states Hyde's plan to evade capture and his gratitude towards Jekyll's munificence, while also acknowledging his own unworthiness. Utterson questions whether Hyde was behind the unusual conditions of Jekyll's will, which ensures Hyde inherits everything should Jekyll "disappear". Upon Jekyll's confirmation, Utterson warns him about the likelihood of Hyde intending murder and expresses relief that Jekyll escaped harm. He then takes the letter and leaves. As Utterson leaves, he encounters Poole, the butler, and inquires about the person who delivered the letter. Poole, surprised, denies any knowledge of special mail deliveries. Later that evening, while unwinding with a few drinks, Utterson discusses the letter with his reliable clerk, Mr. Guest, who is skilled in handwriting analysis. Comparing the letter to Jekyll's writing, Guest suggests that both were written by the same person, but Hyde's is skewed to create distinction. Utterson is startled upon realizing that Jekyll might have falsified a letter for a criminal.

chapter 6

Jekyll seems to regain his health and sociability after Hyde's disappearance, and even throws a dinner party attended by Utterson and Lanyon. A few days post-party, Jekyll starts declining visitors, puzzling Utterson. Concerned, Utterson visits Lanyon, only to find him gravely ill and distressed after a major shock. Lanyon expects to die soon, and cryptically hints about a terrible truth that Utterson will discover once he's gone. He adamantly refuses to talk about Jekyll. Utterson writes to Jekyll about being denied entry and the rift with Lanyon. Jekyll replies, acknowledging Lanyon's sentiments and announcing self-seclusion due to an unmentioned penalty. Lanyon dies weeks later. Post-funeral, Utterson uncovers a letter from Lanyon, to be unsealed only after Jekyll's death. Utterson, out of professional integrity, sets it aside. As days turn into weeks, Utterson's visits to Jekyll dwindles, consistently being denied access by the butler.

chapter 7

On a particular Sunday, Utterson and Enfield are out for their usual walk. As they pass the door where Hyde once retrieved Jekyll’s check, Enfield comments on the recent murder. He believes that the incident, which started with Hyde's trampling, is now over since Hyde is nowhere to be seen in London. He also reveals that Jekyll’s house is connected to the dilapidated laboratory they walk by. The two friends pause to look into Jekyll's house, with Utterson expressing worry over Jekyll's wellbeing. Unexpectedly, they see Jekyll by the window, taking in some fresh air. Jekyll confesses that he’s feeling “very low," prompting Utterson to suggest a walk for better blood flow. However, Jekyll declines, stating his inability to leave the house. Suddenly, their casual chat is interrupted as Jekyll shows a terrified expression, hurriedly closes the window, and disappears. The two men leave, stunned into silence.

chapter 8

Poole, the butler for Dr. Jekyll, urgently seeks Utterson's assistance one evening. He believes something terrible has happened to his master. Utterson arrives at Jekyll's home to find the servants huddled in fear. Poole attempts to contact his master through the laboratory door but an unfamiliar voice replies, refusing any visitors. In the kitchen, Poole tells Utterson that the voice from the lab wasn't Jekyll's. He's been running errands for this voice, desperately searching for an unattainable ingredient. Poole also reveals he's seen the person in the lab, who doesn't resemble Jekyll at all, but instead looks like Mr. Hyde. Utterson decides they must break into the lab, sending servants to guard the other entrance. Armed with an axe and fireplace poker, they demand entry. The voice pleads for mercy but Utterson identifies it as Hyde's and orders Poole to break down the door. Inside, they find Hyde's body with a crushed vial in his hand, suggesting suicide. He's wearing Jekyll's oversized suit. The building's search reveals no sign of Jekyll. They notice a large mirror, unusual for a lab, and an envelope addressed to Utterson. Inside the envelope is a revised will naming Utterson, not Hyde, a note dated the same day implying Jekyll is alive, and a sealed packet. The note also directs Utterson to read Lanyon's earlier letter and Jekyll's confession. Utterson takes the packet, promising to return and alert authorities, and goes to his office to delve into Lanyon's letter and the packet's contents.

chapter 9

This section provides a detailed account of a letter from Lanyon that is meant to be opened after his and Jekyll's demises. Lanyon narrates how he was requested, through a bizarre letter from Jekyll, to break into Jekyll’s lab with Poole. They were to specifically take out a certain drawer filled with unknown items and wait for a man who would claim it at midnight. Lanyon perceived desperation in Jekyll's letter, which didn't explain anything but promised enlightenment if followed. Lanyon complies, meeting Poole and a locksmith at Jekyll's house, and obtained the drawer from the lab. Inside, he found several test tubes, one filled with an unusual red liquid and another with a substance resembling salt. The drawer also contained a notebook documenting years of experiments with cryptic markings. The notebook, however, provided no insight into the experiments. As midnight neared, Lanyon grew certain of Jekyll’s madness. At midnight, a tiny, sinister man, Mr. Hyde, arrived dressed in oversized clothes. Unfamiliar with Hyde, Lanyon didn't recognize him. Hyde, who seemed both tense and thrilled, dismissed small talk and focused on the drawer's contents. Hyde mixed the substances from the drawer to create a greenish potion. He gave Lanyon an option -- to either leave and take the potion with him or drink it in Lanyon's presence. Annoyed, Lanyon insisted on seeing it through. Hyde drank the potion and astonishingly transformed into Dr. Jekyll right before Lanyon's eyes. This was Lanyon's final account, as he claimed the subsequent conversation with Jekyll was too horrifying to relay. He also mentioned that the shock from the incident had severely affected his health, predicting his impending death.

chapter 10

Jekyll's letter to Utterson reveals his life story. Born wealthy, healthy, and diligent, he was able to maintain a good reputation while hiding his darker side. As he matured, he led a double life, constantly feeling guilty about his darker actions. His scientific pursuits led him into mystical studies about human duality, hoping to resolve his internal conflict. Jekyll asserts that “man is not truly one, but truly two,” describing his desire to separate the good and evil within him. His research led him to a chemical solution which he believed could serve his purpose. Even though he knew he was risking his life, he took the potion after procuring the last ingredient, a large quantity of salt. The initial effects were painful and nauseating, but he soon felt invigorated and hedonistic. The transformation resulted in the creation of the smaller, deformed Mr. Hyde. He theorizes that Hyde's size correlates to the small portion of his personality that represents evil. After transforming, instead of being disgusted by his new form, he felt “a leap of welcome.” He enjoyed living as Hyde, as it allowed him to indulge in his darker desires. He set up a residence and a bank account for Hyde, who quickly descended into utter depravity. However, Jekyll felt no guilt for Hyde's actions, though he did try to amend the wrongs Hyde had committed. His concern began when he transformed into Hyde in his sleep, two months prior to Carew's murder. Fearing that he might get stuck as Hyde, he refrained from using the potion. However, after two months, he yielded to the temptation and transformed again. Hyde, who had been repressed for some time, emerged violently and killed Carew. Hyde felt no remorse, but Jekyll, horrified, prayed for forgiveness. Vowing never to transform again, he seemed more at peace and content. However, Jekyll eventually gave in to some of his darker desires, causing him to transform into Hyde spontaneously while sitting in a park. As Hyde, he felt powerful but was aware that he was a wanted man for Carew's murder. Unable to return home for the potion without risking arrest, he enlisted Lanyon's help. From then on, he had to consume the potion every six hours to prevent transforming into Hyde. However, the potion's efficacy started to diminish as he ran out of the specific salt required and the new batch didn't have the same effect. In his final moments, Hyde grew stronger while Jekyll weakened. He used the last of the potion to buy time to write this letter to Utterson. Jekyll does not know whether Hyde will commit suicide or get arrested and hanged. However, he is certain that Henry Jekyll will not exist by the time Utterson reads the letter.

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