The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Chapters 1 & 2: "Story of the Door" & "Search for Mr. Hyde"
Concepts to know:
Studying Works of Art: Nineteenth century Romantic artists emphasized feeling, emotion, and intuition in their choice of subjects and artistic style. They were interested in all aspects of fantasy: imagination, dreams, nightmares, the infernal, and the macabre. They explored what happens when the human mind goes into the darker side of consciousness or when reason is asleep. For example, the Romantic artist, Theodore Gericault, was interested in the irrational states of the human mind and the idea that the mind affected the physical appearance of a person. He created many studies of the mentally ill and criminally insane.
Discuss how these works of art examine states of mind:
THE VICTORIAN ERA
Robert Louis Stevenson was born at the height of the Victorian Era, which stretched from the 1830s to the beginning of the 1900s. Britain’s Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 at the age of eighteen and ruled until her death in 1901. During her sixty-four-year reign, Great Britain was the world’s leading economic and military power and controlled a vast empire.
Queen Victoria’s reign was a period of intense change in many arenas. Railroads and a postal system expanded to link almost every corner of the nation, making transportation and communication much faster. Medical and sanitary advances led to improvements in health. The government began to support schools financially. Political reforms allowed more people to participate in self-government. Industry grew rapidly, while agriculture became less important to the economy. Cities like London, Manchester, and Glasgow became densely populated as masses of people flocked to them in search of work.
The prosperous decades between 1850 and 1870 were characterized by a general optimism and a sense of accomplishment. By the 1880s, however, pessimism and worry had begun to cloud the thoughts of many Victorians. With the increase in the urban population, poverty became a formidable problem. The strength of Britain’s vast empire was challenged by difficult foreign wars. Workers demanded more power, and women were entering the workforce in greater numbers. The changes in traditional society disturbed and frightened many Britons.
It was at this historical juncture that Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. As you read, look for signs of a society undergoing major changes.
Chapters 3 & 4: "Dr. Jekyll Was Quite At Ease" & "The Carew Murder Case"
Setting, Symbol, Characterization, and Society through Literature
CHAPTER 3: DR. JEKYLL WAS QUITE AT EASE
CHAPTER 3: DR. JEKYLL WAS QUITE AT EASE
- How does Jekyll describe Lanyon? What does this suggest about Jekyll’s feelings about his own abilities?
- What does Jekyll ask of Utterson at the end of the chapter? Why does Utterson have strong misgivings about this request?
- What is revealed about the levels of Victorian society in the first page of this chapter?
- How is Hyde described as he kills Sir Danvers Carew? How does this image fit with the other physical descriptions Stevenson has given of Hyde?
- As Utterson takes the police officer to arrest Hyde, Stevenson gives a vivid description of “the dismal quarter of Soho” where Hyde lives. What is the effect of this description on our mood? What is the effect of this description on our understanding of Hyde?
- Why do you think that Utterson feels “a terror of the law and the law’s officers”?
- Is there any significance in the fact that although Hyde’s specific facial features cannot be recognized, everyone remembers the sense of deformity he conveyed?
Chapters 5 & 6: "Incident of the Letter" & "Remarkable Incident of Dr. Lanyon"
- Battle between good and evil (in the mind of a single person or between individuals or between countries)
- Battle between the id and superego (self-control)
Chapters 7 & 8: "Incident at the Window" & "The Last Night"
- In this section of the novella, Jekyll becomes more and more isolated, cutting himself off from his closest friends. Why is isolation dangerous for Dr. Jekyll? What does he sacrifice by shunning all his friends?
- Many people may envision Romantic literature as emphasizing only love, happiness, and valor, but its darker side might emphasize isolation, moodiness, and death, as well as the mysterious, supernatural events of gothic literature. Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is considered a Romantic work. Examine the text for characteristics of Romantic literature.
Chapters 9 & 10: "Dr. Lanyon's Narrative" & "Henry Jekyll's Full Statement of the Case"
- Dr. Jekyll pushes beyond the boundaries of the scientific knowledge of his time. What drives people to explore the unknown? Why do scientists take great risks and use time, energy, and money to do and learn new things? Did Dr. Jekyll go too far? What criteria would you use to determine what “too far” means? Discuss several recent scientific discoveries and decide whether they “go too far.”