Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A year later, another crime is committed by Mr. Hyde, this time even more hideous. A maid goes to bed in a house alone, and, as the moon shines, she sits by the window and falls into a kind of dream as she gazes and becomes very emotional looking at the beauty of the world and its creatures. She watches a meeting between two men down below, one beautiful and elderly, the other a small, less noticeable gentleman. They meet in the lane as if talking to each other about directions.
The silence between the first crime and the second is a mysterious gulf in time. A whole year has passed and in this time, secretly, Mr. Hyde has somehow become an even stronger force. There is a similarity though between the two accounts, each one involving a markedly innocent figure, first a child and now this “beautiful” elderly man.
Themes
The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon
Innocence and Violence Theme Icon
The light seems to make the old man look almost heavenly and the maid focuses on him, but then notices that the other man is Mr. Hyde, who had visited her master once. She instinctively doesn’t like him. He is listening impatiently to the old man for a while but then suddenly explodes with anger and attacks the old man with his heavy cane, killing him, and tramples his body. The maid faints. When she comes to, the murderer has disappeared but the victim is still lying in the lane along with half of the cane, a purse of money, and a letter addressed to Mr. Utterson.
Stevenson doesn’t create random victims for Hyde. Just like the little girl in the first account, this old gentleman, with the symbolic heavenly light around him and his divine appearance, is a figure of innocence and creates a deeper contrast with Hyde’s wickedness.
Themes
Science, Reason and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon
Innocence and Violence Theme Icon
The police bring the letter in the morning to Mr. Utterson and he announces very solemnly that he will not say anything else until he has seen the body. When he is brought to see it, he recognizes the body as belonging to Sir Danvers Carew. The policeman on duty is shocked – he knows that the murder of such a high-class figure will cause sensation.
The theme of secrecy and repression is interestingly contrasted with the public nature of Hyde’s crimes. The murder of Carew both involves Utterson again and invites scandal – as if the perpetrator is secretly wanting to be exposed.
Themes
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon
Innocence and Violence Theme Icon
The policeman gives the maid’s description of the murderer and asks Mr. Utterson whether he has any clue who it could be. Now seeing the broken stick, Utterson has no doubt that Hyde is the culprit. The policeman confirms that the maid called Hyde small and wicked-looking. Mr. Utterson offers to show the police to Mr. Hyde’s address. They travel through the foggy early morning. The colors of the sky move and shift, one place is dark, the next quite bright. Utterson reflects that as they approach Hyde’s residence, the strange light gives the place an awful atmosphere. It is so nightmarish that even the policeman appears frightened.
Stevenson is building up a world of symbols that denote the appearance of Hyde and the approach of evil. Foggy weather and strange light is a sign of the obscure and masked nature of the events, but they are also constantly transforming, creating a new landscape with each glance, making the atmosphere unpredictable. The description of Hyde’s looks, with the phrases wicked-looking, devilish and deformed recurring in each account, follows him like a symbol too.
Themes
The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon
Innocence and Violence Theme Icon
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Hyde’s street comes into view. It is an odd collection of establishments, including a gin palace. The fog settles in and soon they see only the house in question. They are greeted at the door by an old woman with a wicked-looking expression, who tells them that Mr. Hyde arrived home very late but went out again almost immediately. But she insists that this is normal behavior for her master, who is often away for months at a time.
The obscuring weather embodies the secrecy and repression that is haunting these streets. The way Hyde’s house appears from the rest gives a fated, ominous sense to Utterson’s journey. Given Hyde's ability to inspire hatred in others, it is unclear if the old-woman is naturally wicked or if her exposure to Hyde has made her so.
Themes
The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon
The policeman requests to search Hyde’s rooms. The old lady’s face is filled with “odious joy” as she expresses her interest that Hyde is in trouble. She lets the men in to look. The rooms are mostly empty. Hyde uses only a few of them, and these are very well-kept, with nice furniture and decoration, including a painting given to Hyde by Dr. Jekyll. But the rooms also looked like they had been recently ransacked and in the spilled ashes of the fire, the policeman detects the remains of Hyde’s checkbook and the other half of the cane.
This old lady is an example of what Jekyll will later describe as his theory of the duality of man, that everyone has both good and evil in them. She is both joyful and devious in appearance, reminding us of the immediate effect of Hyde’s evil look. And this dubious welcome is again contrasted with the pleasant atmosphere of Hyde’s rooms.
Themes
Science, Reason and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon
They take the book to the bank and are pleased to find that Hyde has thousands of pounds to his credit. Utterson declares that they will surely catch him; all they have to do is wait for him at the bank. But Hyde does not appear, and since he has been scarcely seen, they do not have much with which to identify him. The descriptions they gather of Hyde only have one sure detail, his unexplained deformed appearance.
Just when it seems that Hyde can be explained using a rational approach, and might be caught out by his attachment to a bank account, he becomes a ghost again. His characteristics are unusual and indescribable.
Themes
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon