“Well, sir, he was like the rest of us; every time he looked at my prisoner, I saw that Sawbones turn sick and white with desire to kill him. I knew what was in his mind, just as he knew what was in mine; and killing being out of the question, we did the next best. We told the man we could and would make such a scandal out of this as should make his name stink from one end of London to the other. If he had any friends or any credit, we undertook that he should lose them.”
In Chapter 1, Mr. Enfield is recounting to Mr. Utterson how he witnessed Mr. Hyde trample a young girl as he was rounding a corner. Enfield describes how he held the man captive, demanding money to keep the incident quiet. The fact that Hyde complies so readily underscores the Victorian Era’s emphasis on personal reputation.
“Yes, it’s a bad story. For my man was a fellow that nobody could have to do with, a really damnable man; and the person that drew the cheque is the very pink of the proprieties, celebrated too, and (what makes it worse) one of your fellows who do what they call good.”
Enfield describes to Utterson how the check he received from the disreputable Hyde was signed by the reputable Jekyll. Enfield puzzles over how two men of vastly different reputations could be related. Enfield’s words highlight the importance of reputation in Victorian society, and the question of Jekyll’s relationship to Hyde drives the rest of the story.
“The figure was stiff; but the signature was good for more than that if it was only genuine. I took the liberty of pointing out to my gentleman that the whole business looked apocryphal, and that a man does not, in real life, walk into a cellar door at four in the morning and come out with another man’s cheque for close upon a hundred pounds.”
Enfield demonstrates a key Victorian value in his statement: common sense. Enfield, employing a healthy skepticism, points out to Mr. Hyde that his actions don’t add up. It is not normal to go into another man’s house at four in the morning, much less get him to sign a check.
“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; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden and the family have to change their name. No sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.”
Here Enfield is discussing his views on social propriety. To Enfield, the stranger a matter seems, the less he asks. Probing a person, he says, seems like passing judgment that is reserved for God. In addition, the investigation will likely expose something that was better left alone. Enfield, embodying a Victorian sensibility, carefully avoids the dark side of life.
“But Mr. Enfield only nodded his head very seriously, and walked on once more in silence.”
In Chapter 7, Utterson and Enfield are taking a walk and see Jekyll in the window of his house. Utterson invites him to join them for a walk, at which point Jekyll’s face begins to change into Hyde’s. Utterson and Enfield have just witnessed something terrifyingly bizarre, yet Enfield chooses not to speak about it. Enfield’s response shows the breakdown of language when the characters face the supernatural.