Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

author  Robert Louis Stevenson

type of work  Novel

genre  Gothic mystery story

language  English

time and place written  1885, Bournemouth, England

date of first publication  January 1886

publisher Longmans, Green and Co.

narrator  The narrator is anonymous and speaks in the third person. Dr. Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll each narrate one chapter of the novel via a confessional letter.

point of view  For most of the novel, the narrative follows Utterson’s point of view; in the last two chapters, Lanyon and Jekyll report their experiences from their own perspectives.

tone  Mysterious; serious

tense  Past

setting (time)  The late nineteenth century

setting (place)  London

protagonist  Henry Jekyll

major conflict  Jekyll attempts to keep his dark half, Edward Hyde, under control and then to prevent himself from becoming Hyde permanently.

rising action  Utterson attempts to discover the truth about the Jekyll-Hyde relationship.

climax  One could argue for two different climaxes. The moment when Utterson breaks down the door to Jekyll’s laboratory and finds Hyde’s corpse constitutes a climax in that Utterson finally admits and accepts that something terribly wrong has taken place. But one might also see the novel’s climax as arising within Lanyon’s letter, at the moment that he witnesses Hyde’s transformation into Jekyll and the mysterious connection between the personas is finally explained.

falling action  Utterson leaves Jekyll’s laboratory, goes home, and reads the letters from Lanyon and Jekyll, which explain all.

themes  The duality of human nature; the importance of reputation

motifs  Violence against innocents; silence; urban terror

symbols  Jekyll’s house and laboratory; Hyde’s physical appearance

foreshadowing  While a general mood of impending disaster pervades the novel, there are few instances of explicit foreshadowing.