Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Notes

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Notes

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Notes

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Notes


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.


  • Life and Background of the Author
  • Brief Synopses
  • List of Characters
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Character Analyses
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

    Every Sunday, Mr. Utterson, a prominent London lawyer, and his distant kinsman, Mr. Richard Enfield, take a stroll through the city of London. Even though to a stranger’s eyes, these two gentlemen seem to be complete opposites, both look forward to, and enjoy, their weekly stroll with one another.

    One Sunday, they pass a certain house with a door unlike those in the rest of the neighborhood. The door reminds Mr. Enfield of a previous incident in which he witnessed an extremely unpleasant man trampling upon a small, screaming girl while the strange man was in flight from something, or to somewhere. The screams from the small girl brought a large crowd, and various bystanders became incensed with the indifference of the stranger, whose name they discovered to be Mr. Edward Hyde. Enfield can recall the man only with extreme distaste and utter revulsion. The crowd forced the man to make retribution in the form of money, and they were all surprised when he returned from inside the “strange door” with ten pounds in gold and a check for ninety pounds. They held him until the banks opened to make certain that the check was valid because it was signed by the well-known Dr. Henry Jekyll, and they suspected that it was a forgery. To their amazement, the check was valid.

    That evening, in his apartment, Mr. Utterson...

  • Excerpt

    When the novel opens, Mr. Utterson (a lawyer) and his friend Richard Enfield (a distant kinsman) are out for their customary Sunday srroll in London. People who know both men find it puzzling that the men are friends; seemingly, they have nothing in common. Yet both men look forward to their weekly Sunday walk as if it were “the chief jewel of each week.” Mr. Utterson, the lawyer, is a cold man, very tall and lean, and has a face “never lighted by a smile.” Enfield is much more outgoing and curious about life, and it is on this particular Sunday walk that he raises his cane and indicates a peculiar-looking door. He asks Utterson if he’s ever noticed the door. With a slight change in his voice, Utterson says that he has, and then Enfield continues; the door, he tells Utterson, has “a very odd story.”

    Enfield says that at about 3 A.M. on a black winter morning, he was coming home and because the street was deserted, he had a vague sense of discomfort. Suddenly, he saw two figures, a man and a girl about eight years old. They ran into each other, and the man “trampled calmly over the child’s body and left her screaming on the ground.” He cannot forget the “hellish” scene.

    He tells Utterson that he collared the man, brought him back, and by that time, a crowd had gathered. Like Enfield, they all seemed to instantly loathe the very sight of the sadistic man, who was, in contrast to the others, very calm and very cool. He said simply that he wanted to avoid a scene, and he offered to pay a generous sum to the child’s family. Then he took out a key, opened the strange door, and disappeared behind it. He emerged shortly with ten pounds in gold and a check for ninety pounds. Enfield can’t remember the precise signature on the check, but he does remember that it belonged to a well-known man. He tells his friend that he finds it extremely strange that this satanic man would just suddenly take out a key and open “the strange door” then walk out “with another man’s check” for nearly one hundred pounds. Of course, Enfield says, he immediately thought that the check was forged, but the man agreed to wait until the banks opened, and when a teller was questioned, the check proved to be genuine. Enfield surmises that perhaps blackmail was involved, and ever since that winter morning, he has referred to that house as the “Black Mail House.” He has “studied the place,” and there seems to be no other door, and no one ever comes in or out, except, occasionally, the villainous man who ran down the child.

    But Enfield feels strongly that someone else must live there, and yet the houses in that block are built so oddly and so compactly that he cannot ascertain where one house ends and the next house begins. Utterson, the lawyer, tells his friend Enfield that sometimes it’s best to mind one’s own business, but he does want to know the name of the man who ran down the child. Enfield tells him that “it was a man of the name of Hyde.” Asked to describe Hyde, Enfield finds it difficult because the man had “something wrong with his appearance, something displeasing, something downright detestable.”

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