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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 8: The Last Night
Mr. Utterson is sitting by the fireside one evening when Poole visits him. Utterson offers him a glass of wine and tries to engage him calmly, but he is very frightened and agitated and asks Utterson to go with him to the house. When they arrive, Utterson is surprised to see Jekyll's servants gathered together in fright. A maidservant weeps loudly. Poole leads Utterson toward the laboratory, but warns him that if his master asks him in, he should not go.
Poole knocks on door to the "cabinet," or study, and announces Utterson. Jekyll replies that he cannot see anyone. Poole asks Utterson if the voice sounds like Jekyll's, and Utterson agrees that it does not. Poole fears that his master has been murdered; eight days ago he heard Jekyll cry out in the name of God, and ever since this strange voice has been there. Utterson is disturbed, but says that he doubts the murderer would remain in the room.
Poole says that the man in the cabinet, whoever he is, has been crying for medicine for the past eight days and, as Jekyll sometimes did, leaving orders on the stairs. Poole has been sent to various chemists in town in search of that medicine, but each time he is told that it is not pure and is sent out again. He shows Utterson a message written to one of the chemists. The message runs "composedly enough," asking for a batch of a certain drug previously purchased and noting that the most recent sample was impure, but it ends with a scrawled plea; "For God's sake, find me some of the old."
Utterson thinks that it looks like Jekyll's handwriting. Poole is inclined to agree, but says that the handwriting doesn't matter -- he has seen the man. He came upon him one day when he was in one of the adjoining rooms, probably in search of the drug. When he saw Poole, he shrieked and went back into the cabinet. If he was Dr. Jekyll, why did he act as he did, and why was he wearing a mask? Utterson concludes that perhaps Dr. Jekyll is suffering from one of those maladies which "torture and deform" a person and can only be cured, perhaps, by a particular drug. He expresses the hope that there is a cure and that Dr. Jekyll will recover. Poole is certain that the man was not Dr. Jekyll; after all, this was a dwarf, while Dr. Jekyll is a tall, fine man, and, after twenty years, he should know his master.
Utterson finally agrees to break down the door, to Poole's relief. As they prepare to do so, Utterson asks if he knows who it was that he saw, and Poole replies that he thinks it was Mr. Hyde, as he felt that certain chill that people feel when they see him. He is "book- learned" enough to realize that this isn't evidence, but his feelings say otherwise.
They break down the door and enter. The room is quiet and orderly, except for the dead and still-twitching body of Mr. Hyde, dressed in the too-large clothes of Dr. Jekyll. In his hand is a crushed vial, which leads Utterson to conclude that he has committed suicide.
They search for Jekyll but do not find him. Poole fears that he is dead and buried somewhere on the premises. Utterson wonders if he has fled, but the cellar door is covered with cobwebs and the back door is shut and locked, its key lying broken and rusty on the ground. On one table are piles of the drug he had sent for, and on one of the shelves is a religious book which Jekyll had held in high esteem, but in which Utterson finds blasphemies which appear to be written in Jekyll's hand.
On Jekyll's business table, they find a large envelope addressed to Utterson. In it is a new copy of Jekyll's will, which names Utterson as his benefactor. Utterson is astonished, and he wonders why Hyde had not destroyed the document. There is also a note in Jekyll's hand dated that same day. Utterson speculates that Jekyll might have killed Hyde and then fled, and he fears for his reputation and safety. At Poole's urging, he reads the note. The note says that Utterson should read the letter Dr. Lanyon had given to him, and then, if he "[cares] to hear more," he should read his enclosed confession." Utterson asks Poole to remain silent on the matter of the note so that if Jekyll has fled, they may at least save his reputation. He tells him that after going home to read the documents, he will return, and then he and Poole will call for the police.
The pace of the narrative now speeds up as Stevenson prepares to reveal the details behind the mystery. Poole arrives at Utterson's door in an agitated state. He fears for his master and knows that Utterson is a loyal, trustworthy friend. Therefore, it is natural for him to seek his help at a time of crisis. Poole has served Dr. Jekyll faithfully for twenty years. Therefore, when Hyde speaks, he is sure that the voice is not his master's. Poole is the chief servant in status and in character. He disciplines the other servants, but he respectfully leads Utterson to the house and allows him to give orders as befits his social class. (It would be improper, of course, for him to break down his master's door himself.) The grotesque normality and propriety of the scene underline the abnormality of what lies behind the door in the study.
Stevenson handles the scene well, offering the reader hints as to what is going on behind the door without giving too much away. The reader knows that the voice is Hyde's and not Jekyll's, but neither character wants to admit it. Poole is certain that his master has been murdered. Utterson, as befits his station and his character, keeps trying to offer rational explanations for what is going on, but is finally convinced that Jekyll has been harmed and decides to break down the door. Inside the cabinet, they find the body of Mr. Hyde. The mystery is only partially solved, however, because nobody knows what has happened to Jekyll. They do not find his body, of course, since Jekyll and Hyde were one. In his last moments, the composite being was Hyde. His last words were as Hyde. Hyde committed suicide. Jekyll/Hyde died as Hyde.
The description of the study heightens the sense of mystery. The room is fairly orderly, yet there are signs that things are not right. The men wonder at the drug laid out as if for an experiment and the purpose of the full length mirror and what it might have beheld. As they search, the silence is broken by the sudden boiling over of a kettle. There appears to be no way out of the study. (In the last chapter, it will be revealed that Jekyll intentionally broke Hyde's key to the laboratory.) Certain clues, of course, suggest the dual nature of Jekyll and Hyde. The blasphemous commentary in the religious book, written by Hyde, stands in stark contrast to Jekyll's esteem for the book. The diminutive Hyde appears in Jekyll's clothes. The changed will remains intact, something Hyde would have never allowed, and there is a note addressed to Utterson written that same day. In his last moments, there was a furious struggle between the two elements in Dr. Jekyll.
The reader finds that Utterson again exercises tremendous self- control. He is almost too rational, refusing to be caught up in Poole's understandable fear and taking a long time to be convinced that anything is amiss. Even after he breaks into the room and finds the envelope addressed to him, he decides to go home to read the documents in private rather than find out the answers then and there. As much as he fears and suspects, he will not make any judgments until he has looked at all the evidence at hand.