Jekyll & Hyde - Dangers of Scientific Curiosity (whole text question)

In this podcast we talk about how we might approach the following whole text question, which focuses on one of the novel's key themes - 'scientific balderdash' and its costs! Here is the question:

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde demonstrates the dangers of human curiosity and scientific endeavour.’

How far do you agree with this view?

Explore at least two moments from the novel to support your ideas.

Jekyll & Hyde Passage-based question - Ch10 Jekyll's Character

In this 40 minute podcast, we talk about the following passage-based question:

Explore how Stevenson presents the character of Henry Jekyll in this extract and elsewhere in the novel. 

The passage comes from the beginning of Chapter 10, and reads as follows:

I was born in the year 18— to a large fortune, endowed besides with excellent parts, inclined by nature to industry, fond of the respect of the wise and good among my fellowmen, and thus, as might have been supposed, with every guarantee of an honourable and distinguished future. And indeed the worst of my faults was a certain impatient gaiety of disposition, such as has made the happiness of many, but such as I found it hard to reconcile with my imperious desire to carry my head high, and wear a more than commonly grave countenance before the public. Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look round me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life. Many a man would have even blazoned such irregularities as I was guilty of; but from the high views that I had set before me, I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame. It was thus rather the exacting nature of my aspirations than any particular degradation in my faults, that made me what I was, and, with even a deeper trench than in the majority of men, severed in me those provinces of good and ill which divide and compound man’s dual nature. In this case, I was driven to reflect deeply and inveterately on that hard law of life, which lies at the root of religion and is one of the most plentiful springs of distress. Though so profound a double-dealer, I was in no sense a hypocrite; both sides of me were in dead earnest; I was no more myself when I laid aside restraint and plunged in shame, than when I laboured, in the eye of day, at the furtherance of knowledge or the relief of sorrow and suffering. And it chanced that the direction of my scientific studies, which led wholly towards the mystic and the transcendental, reacted and shed a strong light on this consciousness of the perennial war among my members. With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two. 

You can download a copy of the passage and question here


Jekyll & Hyde Passage-based question - Exemplar (Ch.1 & Violence)

Here you will find a model answer to a 'passage-based' question, exploring Stevenson's treatment of violence in the novel. The exemplar is divided into two parts; the reason for this will become clear in the narrated Powerpoint which follows. In it, I explore the structure and features that an examiner will be looking for in a top band essay of this kind.

The Question

Explore how Stevenson represents violent action in this extract and elsewhere in the novel.

The Passage

from Ch.1 - Story of the Door

All at once, I saw two figures: one a little man who was stumping along eastward at a good walk, and the other a girl of maybe eight or ten who was running as hard as she was able down a cross street. Well, sir, the two ran into one another naturally enough at the corner; and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the, child’s body and left her screaming on the ground. It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see. It wasn’t like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut. 

I gave a view-halloa, took to my heels, collared my gentleman, and brought him back to where there was already quite a group about the screaming child. He was perfectly cool and made no resistance, but gave me one look, so ugly that it brought out the sweat on me like running. The people who had turned out were the girl’s own family; and pretty soon, the doctor, for whom she had been sent, put in his appearance. Well, the child was not much the worse, more frightened, according to the Sawbones; and there you might have supposed would be an end to it. But there was one curious circumstance. I had taken a loathing to my gentleman at first sight. So had the child’s family, which was only natural. But the doctor’s case was what struck me. 

He was the usual cut-and-dry apothecary, of no particular age and colour, with a strong Edinburgh accent, and about as emotional as a bagpipe. 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 the 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. And all the time, as we were pitching it in red hot, we were keeping the women off him as best we could, for they were as wild as harpies. I never saw a circle of such hateful faces; and there was the man in the middle, with a kind of black, sneering coolness—frightened too, I could see that—but carrying it off, sir, really like Satan.

‘If you choose to make capital out of this accident,’ said he, ‘I am naturally helpless. No gentleman but wishes to avoid a scene,’ says he. ‘Name your figure.’ Well, we screwed him up to a hundred pounds for the child’s family; he would have clearly liked to stick out; but there was something about the lot of us that meant mischief, and at last he struck. 

You can download a copy of the passage here

Exemplar (part 1)

This extract, narrated by Enfield to his cousin, Utterson, is important in that it establishes from the novella’s beginning, that Hyde is not only a morally corrupt man, but is also capable of ruthless violence. The fact that the girl he knocks over is ‘maybe eight or ten’ emphasises her vulnerability and yet we are told that Hyde ‘trampled calmly’ over the child's body. This phrase (trampled calmly) is almost oxymoronic, particularly given that he ‘left her screaming on the ground’. He cannot have been oblivious to his actions and so we can only assume he was entirely unmoved by the child's shock and fear.

Stevenson's verb and adjective choices reinforce this idea that Hyde is capable of extreme violence. We are told he was ‘stumping along’ before the encounter which implies he was heavy-footed. The collision itself is described as ‘hellish’ and a little later we are told he seemed ‘really like Satan’. Stevenson's lexical field here is employed throughout his text to imply that Hyde is the embodiment of evil and it follows that such brutality and primal force would be every day fare for such a man.

Perhaps the most obvious way in which the passage focuses upon Hyde’s aggression is the use of the simile ‘like some damned juggernaut’. While ‘damned’ reinforces his demonic status, ‘juggernaut’ underscores the power and force behind the collision and Hyde’s indifference - he behaves more like a machine than a human being.

Finally, it is notable that the author puts much emphasis on the reaction of the crowd to Hyde here. We are told that the doctor, ‘about as emotional as a bagpipe’, turned ‘sick and white with the desire to kill him’. Likewise, the women nearby were ‘wild as harpies’ and had to be held back; even the mild-mannered Enfield acknowledged that ‘killing’ was only out of the question because of the social norms he was constrained by. All those present, then, are overwhelmed by an urge to inflict violence on Hyde. While this is explicable, given Hyde's grotesque behaviour, it is here that Stevenson's representation of violence is most interesting; he is drawing our attention to the fact that we all have the seeds of primal rage within us. Hyde is despicable, but our own respectability is also, perhaps, just a thin veneer!           385 words

You can download a copy of the first half of the exemplar here


Another key moment in which Stevenson presents violence in the novel comes in Chapter 4 with the brutal murder of Sir Danvers Carew. The tension in this scene is manipulated skilfully by the author; the maid who witnesses the attack has ‘never felt more at peace with all men, or thought more kindly of the world’. She is staring out into a calm, moonlit night, when she notices the dignified form of Carew beaten in a ‘storm of blows’ by Hyde. The description is laced through with graphic details: he attacks with ‘ape-like fury’, the MP’s bones are ‘audibly shattered’ and Hyde’s ‘tough’ walking stick is broken by the sheer force of the strikes. The fact that the attack seems entirely unprovoked makes it all the more shocking. Stevenson underscores this by having the maid faint in response to what she has witnessed. The attack is primal, inviting a reading of the novel in which Hyde comes to represent the Freudian Id, unleashed on the repressive streets of Victorian London.

Given the violence that Hyde inflicts on others, it is perhaps fitting that he dies a violent death at his own hand. The whole of the buildup to the climax of ‘The Last Night’ hints at the death to follow. As Poole and Utterson prepare to break the door down with an axe, they are described as ‘besiegers’. They are ‘appalled by their own riot’ as they force their way into Jekyll's laboratory. Again, Stevenson presents the reader with the idea that the capacity for violence is endemic to the human condition. Upon discovering Hyde’s corpse, it is described as ‘sorely contorted’ which emphasizes the painful consequences of taking cyanide and Hyde is labelled a ‘self-destroyer’ which is an emotive term, drawing our attention to the violence. Moreover, the remainder of the scene broadens our idea of what constitutes violence, as it is revealed that Hyde has scrawled obscenities on ‘some pious text’. Later we learn that he also defaced a portrait of Jekyll's father. It is important when considering the way that Stevenson represents violence, not to discount ideological violence, for Hyde, is at war with the social norms and conventions which define polite society and such a rebellion is not restricted to physical aggression.

Finally, Stevenson offers the reader another passing example of Hyde’s brutality during Jekyll’s full statement of the case in the final chapter. He observes that, having taken the draft, he was ‘inclined to a more unbridled, a more furious propensity to ill’ and this is demonstrated when he ‘smote’ a female match seller in the face and inflicted ‘devilish fury’ on his driver while on his way to Lanyon's home. Indeed, the whole of Jekyll's confession is shot through with a lexical field of violent terms. He describes how, even the transformation itself caused ‘racking pains’ and ‘grinding in the bones’ followed by ‘deadly nausea’. Jekyll, and Hyde’s existence is increasingly defined by suffering and self-inflicted violence. What becomes all the more evident too is that, because of the complexities of the narrative perspective provided, we come to realize that we have probably witnessed only a few of Hyde's transgressions. How many more violent acts have occurred which we know nothing about? The novel remains, first and foremost, a mystery in which only some of its darkness is brought into the light! Violence, like the other taboos that saturate Stevenson’s ‘strange case’, is seen through a glass darkly!       574 words

You can download a copy of the second half of the exemplar here

Jekyll & Hyde quotation map part 10

If you have already watched the previous nine parts of this series, then congratulations - you are now in the home strait! The last chapter of Stevenson's novella is narrated by the only person who has all the answers which will satisfy Utterson's (and our) curiosity: Henry Jekyll.

This presentation is a longer one - almost 1/3 of the quotations I think are useful to memorise come from this section of the text; this makes sense given that Jekyll's confession essentially reviews the entire plot while also explaining his motivation and experience. Well done for working your way through this material and I hope it will prove helpful when you open up the exam paper later in the year :)

Jekyll & Hyde quotation map part 9

In this penultimate chapter, we are presented with the contents of Dr. Lanyon's letter which has slumbered in Utterson's safe until such time as Henry Jekyll was dead or had disappeared. Arguably this chapter is the most shocking of the ten; certainly for the Victorian readership it was unthinkable that Jekyll and Hyde could be one and the same. They were used to tales of 'bogeymen' - the Gothic tradition was full of fiends, vampires and other creatures but Stevenson tore up the rulebook when writing this text. For the first time the monster was to come from within the very heart of civilised man. It was a bold and risque move and was one of the reasons that the novella was an overnight sensation.

Jekyll & Hyde quotation map part 8

In this chapter Utterson's narrative arrives at its conclusion as he travels to Jekyll's house and, with the assistance of Poole, he breaks the door down to the laboratory in an effort to penetrate the heart of the mystery. It is full of action and high drama - what remains of Stevenson's novella will be the transcription of two documents which are key to the case - Lanyon's letter and Jekyll's confession. This chapter consequently serves as a bridge as we move from the moment of 'crisis' to 'climax' and 'resolution'.

The relationship between Jekyll & Hyde

In this 35 minute recording we discuss the primary relationship in Stevenson's novella - that between Dr Henry Jekyll and the mysterious Mr Hyde.

We look at both a conventional reading of the pair and the somewhat left of field idea that Hyde is actually the victim of the narrative. Finally we delve into the psychological models of Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung in an effort to better understand the dynamic between the two men, when set against the backdrop of a repressive Victorian culture.