Much of the suspense associated with the mysteries of the novel are suspenseful solely because they are deliberately kept secret or repressed by the characters. The novel's secrets come out in spits and spurts. Enfield shares his story with Utterson, but he is only persuaded to share Hyde’s name at the end. Utterson, upon hearing Hyde's name, does not reveal that he has heard it before, in Jekyll's will. From that point on, most of the story’s revelations are made not through conversation between characters but rather through a sequence of letters and documents, addressed, sealed and enclosed in safes, so that they need to be put together like a puzzle at the end. The dependence on these sheets of paper for the unraveling of the mystery creates a sense of silence and isolation about each character, and leaves the reader not really sure how much we have been allowed in to the intimacies of their minds. Each man seems to be isolated from every other, and there is a sense that this masculine world has been hushed by the need to maintain social reputation. The men avoid gossip, seem almost to avoid speaking completely about anything of substance, and while many of the men describe themselves as friends, their relationships are most defined by the things they keep secret from each other. There are many occasions in which one man will start to talk and then silence himself and keep the remainder, often the most important or personal detail, to himself. The weight of unsaid information is heavy.
Jekyll's actions suggest the possible outcome of such self-repression. He ultimately feels compelled to find a secret outlet for the urges he cannot share—Mr. Hyde. Through Mr. Hyde, Jekyll believes he can maintain his reputation while enjoying his darker urges, but Hyde's takeover of Jekyll suggests that repression only strengthens that which is repressed, puts it under higher pressure so that it explodes.
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression ThemeTracker
Reputation, Secrecy and Repression Quotes in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
"I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgment. You start a question, and it's like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others…”
"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…”
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."
"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."
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…
"I have had a shock," he said, "and I shall never recover. It is a question of weeks. Well, life has been pleasant; I liked it; yes, sir, I used to like it. I sometimes think if we knew all, we should be more glad to get away."
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.
"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."
“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.”
"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!"
What he told me in the next hour, I cannot bring my mind to
set on paper. I saw what I saw, I heard what I heard, and my soul
sickened at it; and yet now when that sight has faded from my
eyes, I ask myself if I believe it, and I cannot answer.
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.