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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 4: The Carew Murder Case

Summary

Nearly a year later, a terrible crime occurs in London. A young maidservant who lives alone in her house looks out of her window before going to bed. The night is illuminated by a beautiful full moon and she feels very peaceful. She sees an "aged beautiful gentleman" walking towards a small man. The old man appears innocent and kind, and, as they speak, she recognizes the small man as Mr. Hyde, who had once visited her master and for whom she had "conceived a dislike."

Suddenly, Hyde bursts into anger, shouting and brandishing his cane. He then attacks the old man, knocks him to the ground and stamps and clubs him cruelly, audibly breaking his bones. The maid is terrified and faints.

She recovers around 2 a.m. and calls the police. They find half the stick with which Hyde had beaten the man lying in the gutter; the other half was presumably carried away by Hyde himself. A purse and a gold watch are found on the victim, along with a sealed envelope with the name and address of Mr. Utterson, but no identification.

Early the next morning, the envelope is taken to Utterson. When told the circumstances he is upset, but remains calm. He comes to see the body and identifies it as Sir Danvers Carew. The officer is surprised -- "this will make a deal of noise," he says -- and asks Utterson if he can offer any further help. He then tells him the details of the crime and shows him the broken walking stick.


Utterson recognizes the walking stick to be one that he had given to Dr. Jekyll many years ago. Moreover, the officer affirms that the criminal is a man of small stature and particularly wicked looking. So he is convinced that it is Hyde who has done the evil deed.

Mr. Utterson takes the officer to Hyde's house, which is in a "dismal quarter" of Soho. The maid admits them in, but says that Hyde is not at home. He had come home late at night and left an hour earlier, though she found nothing strange in that, as his habits are very irregular. Utterson asks her to let them inspect the rooms. She is about to refuse, but on being told that the officer is Inspector Newcomen from Scotland Yard, she allows them to inspect the house. She is excited and pleased that Hyde seems to be in trouble.

The house is mostly unoccupied, except for few luxuriously- appointed rooms which Hyde used. There is a good picture on the wall, which Utterson presumes is a gift from Dr. Jekyll. The rooms look as if they have been "recently and hurriedly ransacked," however, and there is a pile of ashes in the fireplace, as if a number of papers had been burned, and the remains of a checkbook. The other half of the stick is also found there. They go to the bank and discover that Hyde has several thousand pounds in his account.

The two men are convinced that the criminal is Hyde. Newcomen believes that they will be able to catch him when he goes to the bank. However, this will not be an easy job, since few people know him or know what he looks like. The only point of reference which they have is the "sense of unexpressed deformity" which everyone who saw him seemed to feel.

Notes

It has not yet been revealed to the reader that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person. Thus, when Hyde murders Carew, an innocent and respectable person, Utterson is outraged at the slur on his friend's reputation (that he is involved with a proven murderer). It does not occur to him that Jekyll might be the murderer in disguise. Utterson is in a painful position, however, torn between personal feelings and professional duty. As a responsible and law abiding citizen, he carries out his duty.

Utterson goes to Hyde's house with Inspector Newcomen. The mystery is heightened by the old servant, who has an "evil face" but perfect manners. Although she is delighted that Hyde appears to be in trouble, she does not appear to be too surprised, suggesting that Hyde has done other evil deeds. "He don't seem a very popular character," says Newcomen. The discovery of the walking stick and the ransacked look of the place suggest that Hyde is indeed the murderer, although both Utterson and Newcomen are puzzled that Hyde burned his checkbook and so carelessly left the walking stick. "He must have lost his head," Newcomen says. Even though they know his identity, they despair of catching him, and the chapter ends with deepening mystery and a growing horror.

Stevenson offers many subtle character touches throughout the novel, and this chapter is no exception. The maid is "romantically given" and, before the murder, ironically feels it to be a night in which she never "thought more kindly of the world." Inspector Newcomen is shocked but also secretly pleased when he learns the identity of the victim, for he knows that the capture of the murderer will be major coup for him. Hyde's maid is delighted that Hyde is in trouble, suggesting that Hyde has hired someone as wicked as himself. Utterson remains stoic throughout, but even he is affected by the mood of events. As they drive through London in a fog on the way to Hyde's house, he becomes "conscious of some touch of that terror of the law...which at times may assail the most honest."

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