Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Themes and Colors
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
Bachelorhood and Friendship Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Duality of Human Nature Theme Icon

Dr. Jekyll confesses to Utterson that he has for a long time been fascinated by the duality of his own nature and he believes that this is a condition that affects all men. His obsession with his own darker side gives the novel its plot but also its profound, psychological implications. Even before the climax of the story in which it is revealed that Hyde and Jekyll are the same person, the duality of their personalities creates a tension between the good, social Jekyll and Hyde who seems to revel in causing harm and mayhem, and it looks like it is Jekyll who will be overtaken somehow by Hyde.

One of the most interesting things about Jekyll’s transformation is its psychological aspect. Hyde is portrayed as an evil-looking dwarfed man with a violent temper, while Jekyll is a respected man of science, good-natured and leader of his circle of friends. Not only are these men two halves of the same person, but Jekyll describes them as polar opposites, one good and the other evil. What does it mean, then, that once Hyde exists that he slowly seems to take over, to destroy Jekyll. Is Jekyll’s theory of good and evil too neat and clean? Hyde's takeover of Jekyll seems to suggest a less clear-cut explanation, in which the human condition is not in fact double but rather one of repression and dark urges, and that once the repression of those dark urges eases or breaks it becomes impossible to put back into place, allowing the "true", dark nature of man to emerge.

Jekyll’s disorder also reflects on the other characters, and raises the question of just how upright, moral, and governed by reason they truly are. Utterson for example is introduced as a lawyerly, kind man, and seldom seems to stray from that description. But his character is so rigid and unmoving, and even impersonal, that one could imagine he too is strenuously repressing a world of darker urges.

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The Duality of Human Nature Quotes in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Below you will find the important quotes in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde related to the theme of The Duality of Human Nature.
Chapter 1 Quotes

"He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something down-right detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn't specify the point.”

Related Characters: Mr. Enfield (speaker), Mr. Hyde
Related Symbols: The Appearance of Evil
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Enfield describes the appearance of Mr. Hyde to his friend Mr. Utterson. Enfield notes that Hyde seems hideously ugly, though Enfield can't exactly explain why. Because Mr. Hyde is the embodiment of evil, Mr. Enfield's reaction to Hyde's appearance reflects his attitude toward the abstract concept of evil. Because Enfield is a good, moral man, he naturally rejects Hyde, and just as Enfield finds Hyde ugly without being to specify what, exactly, is ugly about him, Enfield instinctively rejects evil without fully understanding it.

Enfield's observation that Hyde seems "deformed somehow" suggests that evil is a twisted, misshapen version of good. Hyde's deformed appearance could also reflect the fact that at this early stage in the novel, Jekyll's good side is stronger than his bad side--Jekyll (good) is strong, and Hyde (evil) is weak.

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Chapter 2 Quotes

“He began to go wrong, wrong in mind; and though of course I continue to take an interest in him for old sake's sake, as they say, I see and I have seen devilish little of the man. Such unscientific balderdash," added the doctor, flushing suddenly purple, "would have estranged Damon and Pythias."

Related Characters: Dr. Hastie Lanyon (speaker), Dr. Jekyll
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Dr. Lanyon, one of Dr. Jekyll's oldest friends, complains that Dr. Jekyll has changed greatly in recent months. Where once Jekyll was calm, rational, and kind, he's become deeply "unscientific," experimenting with strange chemicals and potions and disappearing for days at a time. ("Damon and Pythias" alludes to a famous Greek story about two close friends--Lanyon is saying that he's a good friend to Jekyll, but Jekyll's behavior is trying their friendship.)

Lanyon fails to respect the near-magical nature of Dr. Jekyll's experimenting. Lanyon dismisses Jekyll's current work as "unscientific," and indeed, Jekyll's potion is almost magical in its power (it's capable of transforming Jekyll into Hyde). In short, Lanyon could be said to embody the 19th century spirit of enlightenment and logic, while Jekyll, via his experiments, embodies the "dark side" of the era--emotion, violence, and cruelty.

"Poor Harry Jekyll," he thought, "my mind misgives me he is in deep waters! He was wild when he was young; a long while ago to be sure; but in the law of God, there is no statute of limitations. Ay, it must be that; the ghost of some old sin, the cancer of some concealed disgrace…”

Related Characters: Mr. Gabriel Utterson (speaker), Dr. Jekyll
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

Utterson has known Dr. Jekyll for many years, and he's even aware that when Jekyll was a younger man, he he used to get in trouble. Utterson wonders if Jekyll's current behavior (unpredictable and untrustworthy) might have something to do with the sins of his youth.

Notably, Utterson claims that sin has no "statue of limitations"--in other words, the sins of Jekylll's past will stay with him forever. Over the course of the novel, Utterson's words will prove correct: Hyde is the very embodiment of Jekyll's dark, secret nature, proof that all human beings contain deep, sinful secrets which they try, and fail, to repress.

Chapter 3 Quotes

The large handsome face of Dr. Jekyll grew pale to the very lips, and there came a blackness about his eyes. "I do not care to hear more," said he. "This is a matter I thought we had agreed to drop."

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Gabriel Utterson
Related Symbols: The Appearance of Evil
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Mr. Utterson brings up Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll. Instead of talking about the matter, Jekyll replies that he refuses to discuss Hyde in any capacity. Utterson is surprised by Jekyll's reaction, since Utterson is one of Jekyll's oldest friends.

Jekyll's behavior--i.e., his refusal to discuss his secrets--is indicative of the repressive, stuffy atmosphere of Jekyll's society: Victorian society in general, but particular his circle of bachelor friends and acquaintances. Like his friends, Jekyll refuses to disclose his sins, or even to allude to them. And yet even here, when Jekyll hasn't ingested any of the potion that transforms him into Hyde, Utterson can see some "blackness" in Jekyll. It's as if Jekyll's secret, sinful nature is struggling desperately to get out, affecting even his physical appearance.

Chapter 4 Quotes

And then all of a sudden he broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on (as the maid described it) like a madman.

Related Characters: Mr. Hyde
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hyde commits a horrible crime; he beats up a defenseless old man, Sir Danvers Carew. Stevenson uses subtly-chosen language to convey the nature of Hyde's evil: he describes Hyde "breaking out" like a flame, suggesting that Hyde is as fierce, angry, and uncontrollable as fire.

Hyde, one could say, is pure "id" (a concept from Freudian psychoanalysis)--he feels an unquenchable need to exercise his own aggression, or whatever other desire he might be feeling, and has no "ego" to check his behavior. Dr. Jekyll feels similar aggressive instincts, but because he's a good man, he knows how to control and repress such instincts. Hyde--the embodiment of all Jekyll's sins and secret desires, has no such restraints on his behavior, and thus, he beats the old man.

An ivory-faced and silvery-haired old woman opened the door. She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy: but her manners were excellent.

Related Symbols: The Appearance of Evil
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the police investigate Hyde's living quarters. An old woman with an evil, "hypocritical" face, lets the police into the room. The woman's face symbolizes some of Stevenson's ideas about the relationship between good and evil. All human beings have a secret desire to do evil, but most people learn how to control or at least conceal such a desire.

The old woman is a great example of a character who plainly desires to do evil, yet she is also an excellent example of the way society prevents people from giving in to their sinful desires. Good manners, it's suggested, help the old woman control her sinfulness--in other words, even though she's thinking nasty thoughts, she's able to conceal her thoughts beneath the facade of politeness. In a way, the old woman--and not Mr. Hyde--represents the real horror of Stevenson's novel. At least Mr. Hyde is clearly evil--someone like the old woman, who conceals her evil behind the appearance of goodness, can be far more dangerous in the long run.

Chapter 5 Quotes

The fire burned in the grate; a lamp was set lighted on the chimney shelf, for even in the houses the fog began to lie thickly; and there, close up to the warmth, sat Dr. Jekyll, looking deathly sick. He did not rise to meet his
visitor, but held out a cold hand and bade him welcome in a changed voice.

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll
Related Symbols: Mist and Moonlight, The Appearance of Evil
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene Mr. Utterson reunites with Dr. Jekyll after a long time. As is often the case when Stevenson sets the scene for something ominous or sinister, fog and mist are all around (even in the house!), obscuring what might otherwise be clear. Utterson immediately notices that Jekyll seems physically weak--his voice is different, and his hands are cold. Although Utterson doesn't know it yet, Dr. Jekyll has become physically weak because he's been spending more and more time as Mr. Hyde. One's good and evil side grow stronger with regular "exercise"--so because Jekyll has been neglecting his good, conscious side in favor of his evil, unconscious side, Mr. Hyde has grown stronger and Dr. Jekyll himself has shriveled up. Jekyll's changed voice also alludes to Jekyll's experiences in Mr. Hyde's shoes. Jekyll might still be a good man, but he still remembers what he did during his time as Hyde. As a result, Jekyll has come to hate himself.

"I cannot say that I care what becomes of Hyde; I am quite done with him. I was thinking of my own character, which this hateful business has rather exposed."

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll (speaker), Mr. Hyde
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Dr. Jekyll insists that he is "done" with Mr. Hyde. Although Utterson doesn't know it at the time, Jekyll is saying that he'll never drink his potion again--from now on, he'll keep the "Mr. Hyde side" of his personality concealed. Jekyll makes a subtle pun on the word "exposed." Unbeknownst to Utterson, Jekyll's experience in Hyde's shoes has, quite literally, exposed Jekyll's moral character: it has literalized the secret wickedness that's been hiding in Jekyll's soul for years.

Jekyll's comments raise an interesting question: is Jekyll morally responsible for Hyde's actions? It's important to remember that Dr. Jekyll's personality encompasses Mr. Hyde: even now, as Dr. Jekyll speaks to Utterson, Hyde is within him. So even though Jekyll claims that he's done with Hyde, we'll come to see that Jekyll can never be truly "done." Jekyll will always have a secret dark side--the only question is whether or not Jekyll will be able to keep this side of his soul under control, or whether it will take over his more "civilized" self.

Chapter 6 Quotes

The death of Sir Danvers was, to his way of thinking, more than paid for by the disappearance of Mr. Hyde. Now that that evil influence had been withdrawn, a new life began for Dr. Jekyll. He came out of his seclusion, renewed relations with his friends, became once more their familiar guest and entertainer…

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

After the death of Sir Danvers, Dr. Jekyll begins to change his ways. Instead of being unreliable and constantly secluded, he becomes outgoing and social once more (unbeknownst to Utterson, Jekyll has become social again because he's not transformed into Hyde half the time).

Jekyll is operating under the naive belief that he can control Hyde forever, or just quit him "cold turkey." Jekyll is so confident that the good, rational part of his soul is in control that he surrounds himself with friends and well-wishers again as if nothing happened. In reality, Mr. Hyde hasn't gone away at all--on the contrary, Hyde is lurking just below the surface, waiting for the right time to strike. As we've heard, sin has no statute of limitations--once Mr. Hyde, always Mr. Hyde.

Chapter 7 Quotes

The middle one of the three windows was half-way open; and sitting close beside it, taking the air with an infinite sadness of mien, like some disconsolate prisoner, Utterson saw Dr. Jekyll.

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Gabriel Utterson
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Utterson notices Dr. Jekyll sitting in his laboratory. Jekyll seems sad, almost like a prisoner, although Utterson isn't yet aware of the truth. In reality, Dr. Jekyll has become something like a prisoner: after months of drinking his potion, he's unable to control when and where Mr. Hyde rears his ugly head, and as a result, he's forced to sit indoors, lest Mr. Hyde be seen and arrested for his crimes.

The image of Jekyll trapped inside a prison-like building is evocative of the changing relationship between Jekyll and Hyde. At first, Hyde was the prisoner, trapped within the "prison" of Dr. Jekyll's good nature and proper manners. But now, Jekyll is the prisoner, a slave to his own sinful drives. 

Chapter 8 Quotes

"O, sir," cried Poole, "do you think I do not know my master after twenty years? Do you think I do not know where his head comes to in the cabinet door, where I saw him every morning of my life? No, sir, that thing in the mask was never Dr. Jekyll--God knows what it was, but it was never Dr. Jekyll; and it is the belief of my heart that there was murder done."

Related Characters: Poole (speaker), Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

Poole, Dr. Jekyll's old, faithful servant, insists that the figure locked in Dr. Jekyll's study isn't actually Dr. Jekyll at all. Poole has known Jekyll for 20 years, and can clearly tell that the Jekyll he knows is no longer present in the house. Poole's solution to the mystery of Jekyll's disappearance is that someone has murdered Jekyll and taken his place. But as we'll soon discover, the truth is far more disturbing. In reality, Jekyll's own hidden nature has consumed him: he has meddled with science and been punished for his experimentation with an awful curse. Mr. Hyde has finally triumphed over Jekyll: in other words, the evil side of Jekyll's soul has dominated the good.

Chapter 9 Quotes

“Think of me at this hour, in a strange place, labouring under a blackness of distress that no fancy can exaggerate, and yet well aware that, if you will but punctually serve me, my troubles will roll away like a story that is told. Serve me, my dear Lanyon and save

Your friend, H.J.”

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll (speaker)
Related Symbols: Letters and Documents
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

In this long letter, Dr. Jekyll--who, we'll see, has been transformed into Mr. Hyde unexpectedly--begs his old friend Dr. Lanyon to go into his house, obtain some chemicals and test tubes, and bring them to Mr. Hyde so that Hyde can have a way of transforming back into Jekyll and avoiding arrest.

It's important to note that Dr. Jekyll himself doesn't say anything about why he needs Lanyon to follow his instructions--instead of explaining himself, he invokes his long, close friendship with Lanyon. Furthermore, Lanyon complies with Jekyll's wishes, recognizing that their friendship is more than enough reason to obey. Jekyll's letter is important because it clarifies the relationship between good, evil, and trust. As Lanyon has said (see quotes above), the truth is often too horrible to bear--therefore, there are times when truth must be concealed or repressed, as we often see with the characters of this novel. It's precisely because the truth must be concealed that friendship and trust are so important--because Lanyon has been friends with Jekyll for a long time, he goes along with Jekyll's requests, no questions asked.

"Lanyon, you remember your vows: what follows is under the seal of our profession. And now, you who have so long been bound to the most narrow and material views, you who have denied the virtue of transcendental medicine, you who have derided your superiors--behold!"

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll (speaker)
Related Symbols: Letters and Documents
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Mr. Hyde meets up with Dr. Lanyon and drinks the potion that Dr. Jekyll has sent Lanyon to deliver. As Hyde drinks the potion, he urges Lanyon to "behold" his transformation from Hyde back to Jekyll.

Jekyll's interaction with Lanyon in this passage reflects the differences in their approaches to science. Lanyon, we sense, has always refused to experiment with "transcendental medicine" (something Stevenson never really explains, except that it's scary and radical) because he finds it evil. Jekyll, on the other hand, has been more willing to take risks with science--as a result, he's been brave enough to stumble upon the secret of Mr. Hyde. Jekyll's behavior in this scene confirms his status as a tragic hero--a figure whose rather arrogant desire for knowledge and greatness has led him to great pain and suffering, almost as if he's being punished by the gods for reaching above his station. Jekyll has made a great scientific discovery, but at a great price--he's sacrificed his self-control and fallen into a state of uncontrollable sin.

Chapter 10 Quotes

With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the
intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll (speaker)
Related Symbols: Letters and Documents
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final chapter of the novel--a letter written by Dr. Jekyll--Jekyll explains that he long ago realized that humans have a divided nature. All humans have two halves: one half good, one half evil.

Jekyll's discovery has been interpreted in all sorts of ways: for some critics, Stevenson's conceit anticipates the discoveries of Sigmund Freud, who argued that man has a repressed, irrational side, the id. For others, the divide between man's good and evil nature evokes the age of imperialism, during which the people of Great Britain claimed to be righteous and moral, hypocritically ignoring their own country's brutal interventions in India, Africa, and other parts of the world (the source of England's great prosperity).

It's also worth noting that Jekyll takes on the qualities of a Promethean hero in this passage. Like Prometheus, who was punished for stealing fire from the gods, or Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, Jekyll bravely and carelessly sails on to reckless heights, guided by his studies of science and of mysticism. Drawn to "the truth," Jekyll eventually comes upon a great scientific discovery, albeit one that brings him to ruin.

I looked down; my clothes hung formlessly on my shrunken limbs; the hand that lay on my knee was corded and hairy. I was once more Edward Hyde.

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll (speaker), Mr. Hyde
Related Symbols: The Appearance of Evil, Letters and Documents
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Dr, Jekyll is sitting on a park bench in public. Suddenly, he finds himself transforming into Mr. Hyde, despite the fact that he hasn't drunk any of the potion that's supposed to enable such a transformation. Thus far, Jekyll has believed that he can control his dual nature: he can be Hyde one day and Jekyll the next. Now, Jekyll begins to realize that he can't control his spirit at all: once Hyde has been released, there's no controlling him.

Stevenson's description of Hyde's sudden, unexpected appearance parallels some of Sigmund Freud's ideas about the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. Mr. Hyde's unexpected appearances evoke the way the human unconscious can "jump out" at any time, no matter how rigorously one tries to control it. At the same time, Stevenson makes this duality physical in a horrifying way, again portraying Hyde as evil even down to his appearance--he is "shrunken," "corded," and "hairy," unlike the presumably healthy and wholesome Jekyll.

I am careless; this is my true hour of death, and what is to follow concerns another than myself. Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.

Related Characters: Dr. Jekyll (speaker)
Related Symbols: Letters and Documents
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

At the very end of the novel, Dr. Jekyll senses that he is losing control of his spirit. He transforms into Mr. Hyde more and more frequently and unexpectedly--eventually, Jekyll predicts, he'll be Mr. Hyde all the time. In a way, Jekyll writes, his life is coming to an end: he'll still live as Mr. Hyde, but his life as Dr. Jekyll is ending forever.

As we look back on the totality of Dr. Jekyll's life, we see that Dr. Jekyll meddled with evil and lost. Jekyll believed that he was pure and good enough to keep his evil under strict control. In reality, however, nobody is good enough to control their own evil nature. By flirting with violence and cruelty, Jekyll unleashed a force so powerful that by the end, it dominated his existence. Stevenson portrays evil (through Mr. Hyde) as an unquenchable appetite; an indestructible, constantly growing force of nature.

In all, the passage suggests that Stevenson's novel is a cautionary tale. Dr. Jekyll has meddled with forbidden, sinful knowledge, and gotten his comeuppance for doing so.