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Free Study Guide-Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson-Synopsis
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 2: Search for Mr. Hyde

Summary

That evening, Mr. Utterson returns home in a poor mood. After supper, he takes an envelope containing the will of Dr. Jekyll from his safe and studies it. The will states that upon his death all of Jekyll's possessions should pass to his "friend and benefactor" Mr. Edward Hyde. In addition, should Jekyll unexplainably disappear for more than three months, Hyde should also inherit his estate. The will seems mad to him, and, now that someone has given him a description of Hyde and his behavior, Utterson is even more perplexed and perturbed.

He decides to visit their common friend, Dr. Lanyon, to learn more about the matter. When Utterson mentions Jekyll's name, Lanyon says that the two had become estranged and angrily calls his research "unscientific balderdash." Utterson downplays Lanyon's remark, figuring it is a mere scientific dispute. When he asks about Mr. Hyde, Lanyon says that he has never heard of him.

Utterson goes home disappointed and sleeps poorly that night. The next morning he is still haunted by the faceless figure of Mr. Hyde. He is very eager to meet Hyde and learn why Dr. Jekyll has willed his property to him.

Utterson begins visiting the door regularly. One night, he hears some footsteps. He sees a strange looking man at the door and asks him whether his name is Hyde. The man shrinks back, as though he were afraid. Then he faces Utterson defiantly and asks him how he knows him. Utterson says that he knows him by description. After all, they have common friends like Dr. Jekyll. At this, Hyde gets very angry and accuses him of telling lies, as he knows that Jekyll never would have mentioned him to Utterson. When Utterson tries to calm him, Hyde laughs savagely and quickly goes in.


Utterson stands disturbed for a while. Then he walks on, thinking about the problem. He feels a tremendous disgust for Hyde and fears that he has an evil soul. He pities Dr. Jekyll for being cursed with such a companion.

Utterson goes to Jekyll's house and is admitted by Poole, Jekyll's butler, who goes in to see whether Dr. Jekyll is at home. He returns to say that he is not in. Utterson remarks that he saw Mr. Hyde "go in by the old dissecting room door" and Poole replies that Hyde, indeed, has a key and that, furthermore, all the servants are under orders to obey him. He never dines in the house, however, but only spends time in the laboratory.

Utterson leaves with a heavy heart. He feels pity for Dr. Jekyll and thinks that he is being blackmailed for some wrong he committed in his youth. He then thinks about his own past; though "fairly blameless," he has still committed some humbling wrongs. He then thinks of Hyde and speculates that he must have committed many black deeds secretly. He fears that if Hyde suspects the contents of Jekyll's will, Jekyll's life may be in danger, and he resolves to try to help his friend.

Notes

In this chapter, a bit more of the mystery is revealed. The respectable man whom Hyde appears to be blackmailing is Dr. Jekyll, a close friend of Utterson's. Jekyll has named Hyde as the benefactor of his will, not only in the case of his death, but in the case of his disappearance for more than three months. The mysterious door that Hyde entered is actually a part of Jekyll's house, and Hyde has free access to it. Utterson is understandably concerned for his friend's safety and well being.

Utterson is so upset by Enfield's story that he sets out to interfere in someone else's business. His hunting down of Hyde and his questioning of Lanyon are out of character for him and show how much he cares for his friend, Dr. Jekyll.

Lanyon believes that Jekyll has somehow gone "wrong in mind" over the last several years and he becomes visibly upset when he mentions Jekyll's experiments. Utterson is nonplused, however, and attributes Lanyon's annoyance to a trifling scientific dispute. As a generally dispassionate man, passion in others is foreign to him.

Utterson is obsessed with Hyde, however. He haunts the Soho streets and waits near the strange door, hoping to meet him. When Utterson eventually does meet Hyde, the event is somewhat anticlimactic; Stevenson does not allow the mystery to be cleared up but, rather, extends it. Although Hyde initially hides his face, he does eventually allow Utterson to see it, and when Utterson says that he will now remember him, Hyde coolly gives him his card. This shocks Utterson, who fears that Hyde knows about the will and thus expects to see him again. But he remains outwardly calm. When Hyde blows up at what he takes as Utterson's lie and terminates the interview, Enfield is further upset, but exercises remarkable self-control, giving the reader the impression that he is immune to such irrational responses. Indeed, he immediately begins pondering over the mystery of Hyde, trying to figure out a rational solution for both Hyde's behavior and his own reaction to him.

Stevenson now plays a joke on the reader. Utterson goes to Dr. Jekyll's house, which is around the corner from the strange door. Like Utterson, the reader expects to meet Dr. Jekyll. But like him, the reader too is disappointed, as Dr. Jekyll is not at home. At this point, Utterson casually reveals that the strange door is actually attached to Jekyll's house and that Hyde has access to it.

Jekyll's house is set in a once handsome but now decayed square. It is opulent, however, giving the impression that Jekyll has been concerned with other matters while the neighborhood has changed around him and adding to the sense of mystery. Jekyll is clearly of high social standing, and the interior of his house and his servants reinforce this impression. Utterson questions Poole, the butler, in his typical lawyer's manner. Poole is respectful, and he trusts Utterson too much to hide anything from him. His scale of values is quite clear: Hyde never "dines" in the house proper; he is not socially accepted. Rather, he comes and goes by the laboratory. At the same time, the servants are under orders to obey him. Thus, Utterson's suspicions that Dr. Jekyll is being blackmailed are strengthened. Utterson realizes that the problem concerning Hyde's identity, instead of being solved, is getting more complicated.

At this point, Hyde's character is somewhat ambivalent. He does not yet appear as completely the monster he will show himself to be. Although he lacks concern for his fellow humans, he is controlled and reserved enough to pay off the family of the girl to avoid an incident. When Utterson surprises him at the door and asks to see his face, Hyde agrees to do so and calmly asks that he tell him how he knows him in return. At the same time, Hyde is emotionally volatile; he blows up when he thinks Utterson is lying to him. Physically, Hyde is also something of a mystery. In Victorian literature, looks were often associated with moral characteristics. Hyde is small man (this will later be an indication that the evil part of Jekyll is initially small) and certainly unpleasant looking. However, though there appears to be something deformed about his appearance, Utterson is unable to say what it is, and, indeed, not even Hyde's appearance, voice, and behavior combined can explain Utterson's "disgust, loathing and fear." He only has a vague sense that there is something evil about Hyde.

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