In the aftermath of Sir Danvers Carew’s murder, huge rewards are offered for finding the murderer, but Mr. Hyde has disappeared. Rumors and tales surface about Mr. Hyde’s past misdemeanors, but as Hyde continues to be absent, Utterson’s concern calm down and Dr. Jekyll begins to be more social. Jekyll goes back to doing charitable deeds.
This peace continues for two months. In January, Dr. Jekyll holds a dinner party for some friends including Utterson and Lanyon and it seems just like old times. But the next three times Utterson tries to visit Jekyll, he is refused entry and is told that the doctor is confined to his room. Utterson goes to visit Dr. Lanyon instead, and finds Lanyon very ill-looking. In fact, Lanyon is completely changed, not so much physically as in his eyes and behavior. It is as if Lanyon is terrified of death, but such a fear is unusual for a doctor.
By following Utterson’s perspective, the events of the other characters’ lives—Jekyll’s reentry into society, Lanyon’s traumatic transformation—occur without warning or explanation and must be considered together as pieces of a larger puzzle. These sudden changes occur to Utterson as they occur to us and give us a detective’s eye.
Lanyon confesses immediately that he has had a terrible shock and will die within weeks. He comments that if we were to know everything, we wouldn’t fear dying so much. Utterson mentions that Jekyll is suffering too, but Lanyon declares that he is done with Jekyll, and never wants to hear about him again. Utterson is upset to hear this and protests that such old friends shouldn’t fall out, but Lanyon is unmoved. He tells Utterson that perhaps one day the mystery will be revealed to him but not today, and to change the subject if he wishes to stay.
Again it is difficult to picture Jekyll’s grief from behind the mysterious mask of his letter-writing. Though he hints at horrors, he always stops short of providing Utterson with a helpful detail and we are left to imagine why someone so adept at being sociable is being forced into seclusion. Jekyll’s withdrawal from his friendships and society is a prime example of the repression that Stevenson’s characters practice.
Utterson decides to write to Dr. Jekyll, demanding answers. Jekyll replies in a long, tragic letter. He says first that he doesn’t blame Lanyon for their falling out but also doesn’t want to rekindle their friendship. In fact, Jekyll says he plans to live in seclusion from now on and asks Utterson not to protest. He says he is suffering from a self-made nightmare that he cannot talk about and must suffer alone. Utterson is astonished at how suddenly Jekyll’s mood has changed. He had seemed to joyfully rejoin his friends only to fall back into darkness.
Not only is the novel pieced together with letters that disguise the truth of their authors, but these documents themselves are hardly straightforward. Each carries with it conditions for opening and instructions for its next reader. The Russian-doll effect of sealed envelope within sealed envelope gives a sense that the mystery is unending. There is a kind of security in both the permanence and impermanence of written letters – they can be binding, legal documents, like Jekyll’s will but they can be destroyed at a moment’s notice, and offer the author a way of confessing at a distance.
Dr. Lanyon is, as he predicted, dead within a couple of weeks. After the funeral, Utterson, in an emotional state, sits down in his study and brings out a letter from Lanyon, addressed to Utterson with a strict instruction on the envelope that the document be destroyed in the case of Mr. Utterson’s death. Utterson is scared to open it, but finally does. Inside is another sealed envelope. This one tells Utterson not to open it until the death or disappearance of Dr. Jekyll. Utterson is confused by the similarity of this condition to the wording of Jekyll’s will. He almost wants to open it anyway and sacrifice his loyalty, but his sense of duty wins out and he does not open the letter.
Dr. Lanyon’s sickness and his refusal to describe the trauma that caused it certainly worried Utterson before, but Lanyon’s subsequent death is a shockingly real consequence of this vague event. The strange relationship between Lanyon and Jekyll has become more than professional rivalry – there has been some event so horrific that Lanyon could not recover. In contrast to the reality of this consequence, the remainder of Lanyon’s knowledge is hidden and covered up with more letters and documents.
From then on, Utterson thinks of Dr. Jekyll with a sense of trepidation. He continues to try to visit Jekyll's house, but is relieved when he is sent away. The house itself fills him with a kind of dread. He talks to the servant, Poole, instead. Poole keeps Utterson up to date with his master’s condition, but Dr. Jekyll is increasingly secluded and silent. Utterson’s visits become rarer and rarer.
Until this point, Utterson has been a detective, drawn on by loyalty and curiosity, both personal and professional, to seek out the truth. But now the true extent of these characters’ repression becomes evident as, faced with the prospect that Jekyll's situation defies rational explanation to such an extent that the shock of finding it out could kill Lanyon, even the steady Utterson withdraws from the problem.