Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
That afternoon, Utterson has come to Dr. Jekyll’s house and is taken for the first time to the “dissecting rooms” (the house had belonged to a surgeon before). This is a dingy building, separated from the main house by a courtyard. On the ground floor of this out building is an old operating theater, now eerily empty. Jekyll’s study, or “cabinet”, is on the floor above. It has iron-barred windows and a fire burning. The fog from the outside has seeped in somehow. Through the thick air, Utterson sees his friend, but he is not his usual dynamic self, and he can only weakly hold out his hand in greeting.
The great debate that we will discover in Jekyll’s confession later, between mysticism and science, is manifested ominously here. The setting is an antique of medical science. The sight of the operating theater conjures the image of a once busy professional site. But the desolate building now, with fog obscuring it, makes the space seem wild and hints more at the supernatural than the scientific.
Themes
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The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon
Dr. Jekyll is changed. Utterson asks whether Jekyll is concealing Hyde, to which Jekyll responds that he has heard the news and declares that he is finished with Mr. Hyde. He assures Utterson that Mr. Hyde is “safe” and will not be heard from anymore. Dr. Jekyll’s anxious manner worries Utterson. Jekyll admits that he is possession of a letter from Hyde, and he is unsure whether to show it to the police. Utterson is surprised and relieved when Jekyll says that he doesn't care what happens to Hyde anymore and that he would only keep the letter secret in order to save his own reputation. The letter tells Jekyll not to worry because he (Hyde) has found a means of escape. Utterson is satisfied by the letter, thinking that it makes clear the relationship between Hyde and Jekyll.
The sickness and anxiety that Jekyll seems to suffer from in this scene is a visible sign of the mental struggle that he is hiding from Mr. Utterson. Jekyll denies that Hyde has any hold on him anymore and the letter suggests that Hyde is on his way out, yet there is a lingering anxiety that is not explained by the evidence Jekyll presents. This scene is illuminating for Utterson’s character, because it shows how he disregards what is in front of his eyes (Jekyll’s obvious anxiety) in favor of what he wants to believe or can rationally understand.
Themes
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The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon
Utterson asks Jekyll about the envelope but too late—Jekyll has already burned it. Jekyll explains that the envelope wouldn’t make a difference in terms of evidence anyway, because the letter was hand-delivered. Utterson asks if he should take the letter away with him. Jekyll responds that he wants to give all responsibility for his affairs to Utterson, and that he doesn’t trust himself anymore. Utterson agrees to think about it. He has one last question. He wants to know if it was Hyde that dictated the terms of his will. Jekyll admits that it was. Utterson knew it. He tells Jekyll that he has narrowly escaped death, but Jekyll seems to be more concerned that he has “learned a lesson”.
Jekyll is involving Utterson as his lawyer and also his friend but what he is asking him to do goes beyond both of Utterson’s roles. He is being asked to take care of Jekyll’s affairs for him, and Jekyll verbally hands over the whole burden of Hyde to Utterson. Utterson’s response though is measured and shows us how blind he is to the real danger that he is in by association. He doesn’t even seem to reflect that he is covering for the murderer of one of his own clients.
Themes
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Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon
Innocence and Violence Theme Icon
Bachelorhood and Friendship Theme Icon
On the way out, Utterson asks Poole, Dr. Jekyll’s servant, to describe the sender of the letter, since Dr. Jekyll said it was hand-delivered, but Poole says that no mail has been received. Utterson is very troubled by this addition to Jekyll’s story. He assumes that if the letter had not been received at the main door, it must have been written in the laboratory itself, which implies more threat to Dr. Jekyll. On the street, newspaper boys are selling the headline about Sir Carew, the murdered MP.
If there is anything more threatening than the appearance of Hyde’s unmistakably evil face, it is its absence. The suggestion that Hyde is lurking somewhere, even closer to Jekyll than once thought, and has delivered the letter without using the main door, once again makes the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde unexplainable.
Themes
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The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon
Innocence and Violence Theme Icon
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Utterson usually relies on himself in affairs of his own clients, but this time, he wishes he had some advice. Later, sitting in his office with his clerk, Mr. Guest, by the fire, he finds the opportunity. Outside, the fog is still obscuring the streets but the fire is making the room cheerful. Mr. Guest knows about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and is an expert on handwriting. So Utterson mentions the murder and Mr. Guest thinks it was an act of madness. Utterson takes this opportunity to show him the letter from Hyde to Jekyll. On seeing Hyde’s signature, Guest doesn’t think it shows madness, but it is odd.
Utterson's desire to unburden his mind, having been playing detective alone, shows a more human side to this society of upright professionals that he represents. But he cannot shed his professional identity and even the cozy hearth where he finds Mr. Guest does not change the fact that he is confiding in his clerk and not a family member or friend.
Themes
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Bachelorhood and Friendship Theme Icon
Utterson’s servant then brings him a note from Dr. Jekyll. Guest’s curiosity is piqued and he wonders if it is anything private. Utterson says it’s only an invitation to dinner but Guest inspects the signature and notices a distinct similarity between Dr. Jekyll’s and Hyde’s handwriting. They agree not to speak any further about the handwriting, but when Utterson is alone, he hides it in a safe, thinking that Jekyll has been forging signatures for Hyde.
After confiding in Mr. Guest and not getting very far, Utterson is now presented with a palpable piece of evidence, chilling in its implications for Dr. Jekyll’s predicament. Yet, as usual, Utterson silences his concerns and just at the moment of discovery shuts down the conversation.
Themes
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Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Theme Icon