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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson
Summary

Chapter 10: “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case”

Summary Chapter 10: “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case”

While Victorian society forbade the discussion of many issues, sexuality stood at the top of the blacklist. Based on other indications in the novel, one can reasonably infer that the misdeeds of Jekyll and Hyde are sexual in nature. For example, upon the novel's introduction of Hyde, Hyde tramples a young girl underfoot and then pays off her family. Child prostitution was rampant in Victorian London, and there may be a suggestion of it here. Moreover, in a novel whose characters are all staunch bachelors, one might interpret the “depravity” mentioned in the text as acts of hidden homosexuality. Late Victorian literature contains many subtle allusions to covert acts of socially unaccepted sexual behavior, often referring to or symbolizing homosexual activities. Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray provides an excellent example of Victorian literature’s concern and anxiety regarding sexual orientation.

In the end, though, the actual nature of Hyde’s and Jekyll’s sins proves less important than Stevenson’s larger point, which is that the lure of the dark side constitutes a universal part of our human nature. We are all Jekylls, desperately trying to keep our Hydes under control—even as we are secretly fascinated by what they do and envious of their frightening freedom from moral constraints.