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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 9: Dr. Lanyon's Narrative

Summary

On January 9, the day after Jekyll's final dinner party, Dr. Lanyon receives a letter from Dr. Jekyll requesting him to go to his laboratory and take a drawer, which contains some drugs, from his cabinet. At midnight, a man will arrive and asks for the contents. If he wants an explanation, he shall then receive one, but he asks Lanyon not to fail him, as his life and soul may depend on it.

Dr. Lanyon believes that Jekyll is insane, but he brings home the drawer, which contains some powders and a strange notebook. Around midnight, a strange person appears. He is dressed in clothes that are far too large for him and there is something "abnormal and misbegotten in the very essence" of his appearance. He is anxious to get at the contents of the drawer. When Lanyon bids him to sit, he apologizes for his behavior and thanks Lanyon for his help, but he can barely control himself. Upon looking into the drawer, he lets out an immense sob of relief, and then composedly asks for a graduated glass. He prepares a mixture in Lanyon's presence. Before drinking it he offers Lanyon the choice to stay and watch, and behold a "new province of knowledge," or leave and remain unchanged. Lanyon is unimpressed and decides to remain.


His visitor then mocks Lanyon's close-mindedness and drinks the potion. A cry follows. He turns red and clutches the table. His face turns black, and his features alter. Suddenly there is a total transformation. There stands Dr. Jekyll. Lanyon screams in terror. Lanyon relates that over the next hour, Jekyll told him his story, and his "soul sickened" at what was revealed. Lanyon is still incredulous and fears that he cannot live much longer. The last thing he wishes to convey to Utterson is that the "creature" who entered his house that night, was, by Jekyll's own confession, Hyde, the murderer of Sir Danvers Carew.

Notes

The day after Jekyll's dinner party, Lanyon receives a letter from him with a strange request. (Careful readers may note that the letter is dated December 10; this a minor error.) Upon reading it, Lanyon is convinced that his friend is insane, but he does as he his bid. The chemicals and notes he finds mean nothing to him, but they whet his curiosity and explain why he is so keen to watch the experiment later. Actually, it would have been better for him to continue in ignorance.

His next ordeal is to meet Hyde. He is more disgusted with him than is anyone else. This tells the reader a good deal about his self- control and also about his regard for Jekyll, because he is willing to help him even when faced with this strange and loathsome friend of his.

As will be revealed in the final chapter, Jekyll, while away from home one day, finds himself suddenly transformed into Mr. Hyde, without the intervention of the drug. He had previously broken Hyde's key to the back door of the lab, and he fears that if he returns home, he will be turned in by his servants. Hyde despises Jekyll, but knows he must be able to change back into him if he is to avoid capture. Thus, he writes the letter to Lanyon asking him to obtain the drug he needs to change back into Jekyll.

In this chapter, the reader gets the first detailed picture of Hyde, the hunted criminal. His size is small compared to that of the virtuous Jekyll, and he would appear comic in his oversize dress if not for his evil presence and manner. He is shrewd and rational, but can control his passions only with great difficulty. The scene where he prepares to take the potion is masterfully drawn. Stevenson has hinted several times that Jekyll and Lanyon have had an ongoing scientific dispute. Lanyon never reveals how much he knew of Jekyll's experiments, but it is clear that they shared fundamental differences and that Lanyon considered Jekyll's theories foolish, if not evil. Jekyll, in turn, must have chafed at what he regarded as Lanyon's conservatism and close-mindedness. As Hyde, all of Jekyll's buried resentments come out, showing that the scientific ambition, which drove him to such an experiment, has not been extinguished even by the experience of being Hyde. Hyde mocks Lanyon and gloats at the thought of both shocking him and putting him in his place by revealing to him the success of his experiments. His action is also leveled at Jekyll, for Jekyll tried to protect his friends from his secret and himself from the humiliation its revelation would have caused.

The language of the chapter as it approaches the explanation of mystery becomes more and more melodramatic. This is not a fault on Stevenson's part, but rather evidence that Lanyon's power to keep control over himself is fading. To write about the terrible scene brings back his hysteria, and his style verges on the unhealthy. Some readers have seen his death as the result of the terrible shock he received at realizing that Jekyll and Hyde were one and that his friend was capable, on some level, of being an evil murderer. Others have gone further and suggested that Lanyon's death was not so much the result of realizing that Jekyll was evil or contained evil in him but that Jekyll's experiments revealed the possibility of evil in all people. Seen in this light, his slow withering away is a form of self-denial. In any case, his death following the incident with Jekyll/Hyde is easy to understand. Despite his scientific curiosity, he is limited and ultimately destroyed by a somewhat naive and circumscribed worldview.

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