Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde introduction

English Literature, GCSE, Teaching Resources

Gabriel Utterson the lawyer

There are many contradictions in Stevenson’s introduction of this important character. He is the main vehicle for investigating the strange case of Jekyll and Hyde.

The reader learns he is a man who tries to be non judgemental. He recognises that all humans have failings and he will not intervene to prevent anyone making a mistake. He has been the last person people see before receiving the death penalty but he doesn’t become sentimental or emotional – he remains professional.

Gabriel Utterson has a small circle of friends some close relatives. Richard Enfield with whom he takes regular walks on a Sunday afternoon. They seem to have very little in common- they walk in silence and they are relieved to see anyone else they can call to. Both men are respectable gentleman so their weekly walks are a show to the world they have nothing to hide. Interestingly, the walks take place on the sabbath a time when everyone attends church. Maybe a reflection of Victorian hypocrisy – hiding real thoughts and desires from society. Utterson’s private drinking, his love of the theatre but rarely attends. His serious outward appearance which relaxes when he’s had a glass of wine.

Richard Enfield

Richard Enfield is the opposite of Gabriel Utterson he is a popular man about town. His conversation with Utterson on this particular walk is lively and engaging as he recounts the story of the door. Initially he wants to establish that he is not a gossip because it is ungentlemanly and beneath him. He is also aware of how gossip can destroy reputations.

Again Enfield seems to have a dark side as he confesses to being on the road in the early hours of the morning. He offers no explanation of his behaviour but he condemns the behaviour of Hyde.

Enfield tells the story of Hyde trampling a young girl in the early hours of the morning. Enfield points out that even if it was an accident there was a distinct lack of humanity from Hyde. He made no attempt to stop and to enquire if the girl was harmed. It was the intervention of Enfield and a group of women who prevented his escape from justice.

Enfield’s story reveals two things about Victorian society money buys you power and you can live above the law. Secondly there is little or no protection for the vulnerable especially children. Hyde has to pay the child compensation to protect his reputation.

Both characters Utterson and Enfield raise the strange relationship between Jekyll and Hyde. The compensation paid to the child comes from Jekyll’s account not Hydes. Hyde gets the cheque in the early hours of the morning (he is not a blood relative). The spectre of blackmail and homosexuality are touched upon.

All of Enfield’s story builds mystery and suspense but most intriguing of all is the description of Hyde – animalistic, demonic, frightening and repulsive. The use of biblical language in his description brings in the theme of the supernatural – what power can this creature have over the respectable Dr Jekyll?

The Story of the Door

The description of the door helps to build mystery and suspense from the beginning. The door which Hyde uses is hidden from public view. The door is neglected and it does not look like it belongs in the area. Significantly, Hyde has a key to the door which gives him a sense of entitlement and empowerment- he can come and go as he pleases. A door can be a symbol of freedom and imprisonment. The key has obviously been given to Hyde which tells the reader he is trusted and close to the owner. The door which Hyde uses is hidden from public view therefore it introduces the theme of secrets and appearance vs reality. In Victorian society are appearances given greater importance than the truth. Both Utterson and Enfield agree that there is cause for concern about the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde but they agree to remain silent.

https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-revision-pack-on-whole-text-11917417

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