Frank Lavallo hosts two readers and the three of them summarize the world’s greatest works of classic literature, giving their reactions along the way. If SparkNotes had an audio best friend, it would be us!
"Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson
| S:9 E:5
S9 Ep 5
Host: Frank Lavallo
Readers: Elizabeth and Gregory James
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Year of Publication: 1886
Plot: In Victorian London, Gabriel Utterson learns of the connection between a slight, malevolent man by the name of Mr. Hyde to his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll. The more he investigates, the more he is confounded by the eeriness of their relationship.
Special thanks to our readers, Elizabeth Flood and Gregory James,
our Producer and Sound Designer Noah Foutz, our Engineer Gray Sienna
Longfellow, and our executive producers Brigid Coyne and Joan Andrews.
Here's to hoping you find yourself in a novel conversation!
00:07Frank Hello, and welcome to
Novel Conversations, a podcast about the world's greatest stories. I'm
your host, Frank Lavallo. And for each episode of Novel Conversations, I
talk to two readers about one book. And together, we summarize the
story for you. We introduce you to the characters, we tell you what
happens to them, and we read from the book along the way. So if you love
hearing a good story, you're in the right place. This episode's
conversation is about the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. And I'm joined by our Novel
Conversations readers, Elizabeth Flood and Gregory James. Elizabeth,
Gregory, welcome. Glad to have you both here for this conversation. But
before we get started, I want to give a quick introduction to The
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Published in 1886, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a
gothic novella by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. The story of
Jekyll and Hyde is one of the most well-known in the English language,
and few readers come to this novel without knowing the secret behind the
relationship of the title characters. Nevertheless, it's important to
remember that Stevenson's novel does not reveal this secret until the
very end. Instead, the book presents us with what seems like a detective
novel, beginning with a sinister figure of unknown origin, a mysterious
act of violence, and hints of blackmail and secret scandal. The opening
scenes also contain vaguely supernatural elements, particularly in the
strange dread that Hyde inspires. It is this sense of supernatural
terror breaking into everyday reality that places the strange case of
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde firmly within the tradition of gothic fiction,
along with such gothic masterpieces as Dracula, Frankenstein, and Jane
Eyre. Much of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is written in a brisk,
businesslike, and factual way, like a police report on a strange affair
rather than a novel. This tone derives from the personality of Mr.
Utterson, but also seems to arise from the text itself. The title, The
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and chapter headings such as
The Incident of the Letter and Incident at the Window contribute to this
reserved, dispassionate tone. So, Elizabeth, why don't you start our
02:13Elizabeth As the story begins,
Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield are taking their regular Sunday stroll. Mr.
Utterson is a wealthy, well-respected London lawyer, a reserved and
perhaps even boring man, who nevertheless inspires a strange fondness in
those who know him. Despite his eminent respectability, he never
abandons a friend whose reputation has been sullied or ruined.
02:36Gregory And Gregory, what
about Enfield? Utterson nurtures a close friendship with Mr. Enfield,
his distant relatives, and likewise a respectable London gentleman.
02:45Elizabeth The two seem to
have little in common, and when they take their weekly walk together,
they often go for quite a distance without saying anything to one
another. Nevertheless, they look forward to these strolls as one of the
high points of their week.
02:57Frank Gregory, tell me about this particular stroll, this particular walk.
03:01Gregory Well, here they're
taking their regular Sunday stroll and walking down a particularly
prosperous looking street. They come upon a neglected building, which
seems out of place in the neighborhood, and Enfield relates a story in
connection with it.
03:13Elizabeth Enfield was
walking in the same neighborhood late one night when he witnessed a
shrunken, misshapen man crash into and trample a young girl. He collared
the man before he could get away and then brought him back to the girl,
around whom an angry crowd had gathered. The captured man appeared so
overwhelmingly ugly that the crowd immediately despised him.
03:36Gregory The crowd threatened
to ruin this ugly man's good name unless he did something to make
amends. The man, seeing himself trapped, bought them off with £100,
which he obtained upon entering the neglected building through its only
03:48Elizabeth Strangely enough,
the check bore the name of a very reputable man, and in spite of
Enfield's suspicions, it proved to be legitimate and not a forgery.
Enfield hypothesizes that the ugly culprit had somehow blackmailed the
man whose name appeared on the check. Spurning gossip, however, Enfield
refuses to reveal that name.
04:09Frank But as a lawyer,
Utterson asks several pointed questions. Enfield tries to describe the
nature of this mysterious man's ugliness, but can't really express it.
The quote from the book is, there's something wrong with Hyde's
appearance, Enfield says. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I
scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere. He gives a strong
feeling of deformity, although I just can't specify the point.
04:33Gregory And even though he
said he wouldn't, Enfield divulges that the culprit's name was Hyde. And
at this point, Utterson declares that he knows the man and notes that
he can now guess the name on the check. But as the men have just been
discussing the virtue of minding one's own business, they promptly agree
never to discuss the matter again.
04:50Frank Even as it plunges us
into these mysterious happenings surrounding Mr. Hyde, this first
chapter highlights the proper, respectable, eminently Victorian
attitudes of Utterson and Enfield. The text describes these men as
reserved. So reserved, as Elizabeth mentioned, that they can enjoy a
lengthy walk during which neither man says a word. And so they steer
away from discussing the matter of Hyde once they realize it involves
someone that Utterson knows.
05:15Elizabeth The Victorian
value system largely respected reputation over reality. And so, in a
society so focused on reputation, blackmail proves a particularly potent
force, since those possessing and concerned with good reputations will
do anything they can to preserve them.
05:34Gregory So when Hyde
tramples a little girl, Enfield and the crowd can blackmail him into
paying off her family. Hyde's access to a respectable man's bank account
leads Enfield to leap to the conclusion that Hyde is blackmailing his
05:47Elizabeth So they're
blackmailing the blackmailer. In such a society, it is significant that
Utterson, so respectable himself, is known for his willingness to remain
friends with people whose reputations have been damaged or ruined.
06:01Frank Good point. This
aspect of his personality suggests not only a sense of charity, but also
hints that Utterson is intrigued, maybe even attracted in some way, by
the darker side of the world. The side that the truly respectable, like
Enfield, carefully avoid. It is this curiosity on Utterson's part that
leads him to investigate the peculiar figure of Mr. Hyde, rather than
avoid looking into matters that could touch on scandal.
06:25Gregory Utterson, prompted
by his conversation with Enfield, goes home to study a will that he drew
up for his close friend, Dr. Jekyll. It states that in the event of the
death or disappearance of Jekyll, all his property should be given over
immediately to a Mr. Edward Hyde.
06:39Frank You know, this strange
will has long troubled Utterson, but now that he has heard something of
Hyde's behavior, he becomes more upset and feels convinced that Hyde
has some peculiar power over Jekyll.
06:50Elizabeth Seeking to unravel
the mystery, he pays a visit to Dr. Lanyon, a friend of Jekyll's. But
Lanyon has never heard of Hyde and has fallen out of communication with
Jekyll as a result of a professional dispute. Lanyon refers to Jekyll's
most recent line of research as unscientific balderdash.
07:09Gregory Utterson begins to
spend time around the rundown building where Enfield saw Hyde enter, in
the hopes of catching a glimpse of him. Hyde, a small young man, finally
appears and Utterson approaches him.
introduces himself as a friend of Dr. Henry Jekyll. Hyde, keeping his
head down, returns his greetings. He asks Hyde to show him his face so
that he will know him if he sees him again. Hyde complies, and like
Enfield before him, Utterson feels appalled and horrified, yet cannot
pinpoint exactly what makes Hyde so ugly.
07:42Frank Hyde then offers
Utterson his address, which the lawyer interprets as a sign that Hyde
eagerly anticipates the death of Jekyll and the execution of his will.
07:51Gregory After this
encounter, Utterson pays a visit to Jekyll. At this point, we learn what
Utterson himself has known all along. Namely, that the run-down
building that Hyde frequents is actually a laboratory attached to
Jekyll's well-kept townhouse, which faces outward on a parallel street.
08:07Frank You know, the
description of Jekyll's house introduces an element of symbolism into
the novel. The doctor lives in a well-appointed home described by
Stevenson as having a great air of wealth and comfort. But the building
secretly connects to his laboratory, which faces out on another street
and appears sinister and run down. It is in this laboratory that Dr.
Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde. Like the two secretly connected buildings
seemingly having nothing to do with each other, but in fact easily
traversed, The upstanding Jekyll and the corrupt Hyde appear separate,
but in fact share an unseen inner connection. All right, Gregory,
Elizabeth, with that start, let's take a break here, and when we come
back, we'll continue our conversation and learn something about what's
actually going on in the laboratory of Dr. Jekyll. You're listening to
Novel Conversations. We'll be right back. All right, welcome back.
Gregory, Elizabeth, when we left we had learned that the grand home of
Dr. Jekyll was connected to a laboratory used by the mysterious and
morally ugly Mr. Hyde. Elizabeth, you want to continue the conversation?
09:13Elizabeth Utterson is
admitted into Jekyll's home by Jekyll's butler, Mr. Poole, but Jekyll is
not at home. Poole tells Utterson that Hyde has a key to the laboratory
and that all the servants have orders to obey Hyde. The lawyer heads
home, worrying about his friend. He assumes Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll,
perhaps for some wrongdoing that Jekyll committed in his youth.
09:36Gregory Two weeks later,
Jekyll throws a well-attended dinner party. Utterson stays late so that
the two men can speak privately. Utterson mentions the will, and Jekyll
begins to make a joke about it. But he turns pale when Utterson tells
him that he has been quote, learning something of young Hyde.
09:52Elizabeth Jekyll explains
that the situation with Hyde is exceptional and cannot be solved by
talking. He also insists that the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr.
Hyde. But Jekyll emphasizes the great interest he currently takes in
Hyde and his desire to continue to provide for him. He makes Utterson
promise that he will carry out his will.
10:13Frank The novel moves
quickly, and approximately one year later, the scene opens on a maid
who, sitting at her window in the wee hours of the morning, witnesses a
murder take place in the street below. She sees a small, evil-looking
man, whom she recognizes as Mr. Hyde, encounter a polite, aged
gentleman. When the gentleman offers Hyde a greeting, Hyde suddenly
turns on him with a stick, beating him to death.
10:35Gregory The police find a
letter addressed to Utterson on the dead body, and so they summon the
lawyer. He identifies the body as Sir Danvers Carew, a popular member of
Parliament and one of his clients.
10:45Elizabeth Utterson still has
Hyde's address, and he accompanies the police to a set of rooms located
in a poor, evil-looking part of town. Utterson reflects on how odd it
is that a man who lives in such squalor is the heir to Henry Jekyll's
villainous-looking landlady lets the men in, but the suspected murderer
is not at home. The police find the murder weapon and the burned remains
of Hyde's checkbook. After a subsequent visit to the bank, the police
inspector learns that Hyde still has an account there. The officer
assumes that he needs only wait for Hyde to go and withdraw money.
11:20Elizabeth In the days and
weeks that follow, however, no sign of Hyde turns up. He has no family,
no friends, and those who have seen him are unable to give accurate
descriptions. They differ on details and agree only on the evil aspect
of his appearance.
11:35Gregory Eventually, Utterson
calls on Jekyll, whom he finds in his laboratory looking deathly ill.
Jekyll feverishly claims that Hyde has left and their relationship has
ended. He also assures Utterson that the police shall never find the
11:48Frank Jekyll then shows
Utterson a letter and asks him what he should do with it, since he feels
it could damage his reputation if he turns it over to the police.
Again, we see another example of this fear of losing one's reputation.
11:59Elizabeth The letter is from
Hyde, assuring Jekyll that he has a means of escape, that Jekyll should
not worry about him, and that he deems himself unworthy of Jekyll's
great generosity. Utterson asks if Hyde dictated the terms of Jekyll's
will, especially its insistence that Hyde inherit in the event of
Jekyll's disappearance. Jekyll replies in the affirmative, and Utterson
tells his friend that Hyde probably meant to murder him and that he has
had a near escape. He takes the letter and departs.
12:29Gregory On his way out,
Utterson runs into Poole, the butler, and asks him to describe the man
who delivered the letter. Poole, taken aback, claims to have no
knowledge of any letters being delivered. That night, over drinks,
Utterson consults his trusted clerk, Mr. Guest, who is an expert on
handwriting. Of course he is.
12:47Elizabeth Guest compares
Hyde's letter with some of Jekyll's own writing and suggests that the
same hand inscribed both. Hyde's script merely leans in the opposite
direction, as if for the purpose of concealment. Utterson reacts with
alarm at the thought that Jekyll would forge a letter for a murderer.
13:05Frank And again, time passes
in the novel, and with no sign of Hyde's reappearance, Jekyll becomes
healthier looking and more sociable. To Utterson, it appears that the
removal of Hyde's evil influence has had a tremendously positive effect
13:18Gregory After two months of
this placid lifestyle, Jekyll holds a dinner party, which both Utterson
and Dr. Lanyon attend, and the three talk together as old friends. But a
few days later, when Utterson calls on Jekyll, Poole reports that his
master is receiving no visitors.
13:32Elizabeth This scenario
repeats itself for a week. So Utterson goes to visit Lanyon, hoping to
learn why Jekyll has refused any company. He finds Lanyon in very poor
health, pale and sickly, with a frightened look in his eyes. Lanyon
explains that he has had a great shock and expects to die in a few
weeks. Life has been pleasant, he says. I liked it. Yes, sir, I used to
like it. Then he adds, I sometimes think if we knew all, we should be
more glad to get away.
14:02Gregory When Utterson
mentions that Jekyll also seems ill, Lanyon violently demands that they
talk of anything but Jekyll. He promises that after his death, Utterson
may learn the truth about everything, but for now he will not discuss
14:14Frank Afterward, at home,
Utterson writes to Jekyll, talking about being turned away from Jekyll's
house and inquiring as to what caused a break between him and Lanyon.
14:21Elizabeth Soon, Jekyll's
written reply arrives, explaining that while he still cares for Lanyon,
he understands why the Doctor says they must not meet. As for Jekyll
himself, he pledges his continued affection for Utterson, but adds that
from now on he will be maintaining a strict seclusion, seeing no one. He
says that he is suffering a punishment that he cannot name.
14:45Frank And Lanyon dies a few weeks later, fulfilling his own prophecy.
14:48Gregory After the funeral,
Utterson takes from his safe a letter that Lanyon meant for him to read
after he died. Inside, Utterson finds only another envelope, marked to
remain sealed until Jekyll has also died. Out of professional principle,
Utterson overcomes his curiosity and puts the envelope away for
safekeeping. As weeks pass, he calls on Jekyll less and less frequently,
and the butler continues to refuse him entry.
15:09Elizabeth One Sunday, while
Utterson and Enfield are taking their regular stroll, they pass the door
where Enfield once saw Hyde enter to retrieve Jekyll's check, and
Enfield remarks on the Carew murder case. He notes that the story that
began with the trampling of a little girl has reached an end, as London
will never again see Mr. Hyde.
15:29Gregory To their surprise,
the two men find Jekyll at the window, enjoying the fresh air. Jekyll
complains that he feels very low, and Utterson suggests that he join
them for a walk. Jekyll refuses, saying he cannot go out. Then, just as
they resume polite conversation, a look of terror seizes his face, and
he quickly shuts the window and vanishes. Utterson and Enfield depart in
15:51Elizabeth Jekyll's butler,
Poole, visits Utterson one night after dinner. Deeply agitated, he says
only that he believes there has been some foul play regarding Dr.
Jekyll. He quickly brings Utterson to his master's residence.
16:05Gregory Poole brings
Utterson to the door of Jekyll's laboratory and calls inside, saying
that Utterson has come for a visit. A strange voice responds, sounding
nothing like that of Jekyll. The owner of the voice tells Poole that he
can receive no visitors.
16:17Elizabeth Poole and Utterson
retreat to the kitchen, where Poole insists that the voice they heard
coming from the laboratory does not belong to his master. Utterson
wonders why the murderer would remain in the laboratory if he had just
16:32Gregory Poole describes how
the mystery voice has sent him on constant errands to chemists. The man
in the laboratory seems desperate for some ingredient that no drugstore
in London sells.
16:41Elizabeth Utterson suggests
that Jekyll may have some disease that changes his voice and deforms his
features, making them unrecognizable. But Poole declares that the
person he saw was smaller than his master, and looked in fact like none
other than Mr. Hyde.
16:58Frank You know, despite
mounting evidence to the contrary, Utterson remains a steadfast
rationalist and a fundamentally unimaginative man without a
superstitious bone in his body. One of the central themes of the novel
is the clash between Victorian rationalism and the supernatural, and
Utterson is the embodiment of this rationality, always searching out the
logical explanation for events and deliberately dismissing any
supernatural flights of fancy.
17:23Gregory Hearing Poole's
words, Utterson resolves that he and Poole should break into the
laboratory. He sends two servants around the back of the laboratory's
other door, the one that Enfield sees Hyde using at the beginning of the
17:34Frank All right, Elizabeth
Gregory, let's take a break here. And when we come back, we'll continue
our story and find out what happens when Utterson and Poole break into
Jekyll's laboratory. We'll be right back. And we're back. All right,
when we left, after hearing the voice of Hyde and not Jekyll, Utterson
and Poole were about to break down the laboratory door.
17:58Elizabeth Armed with a
fireplace poker and an axe, Utterson and Poole return to the door.
Utterson calls inside, demanding admittance. The voice begs for Utterson
to have mercy and to leave him alone. The lawyer, however, recognizes
the voice as Hyde's and orders Poole to smash down the door.
18:16Gregory Once inside, the men
find Hyde's body lying on the floor, a crushed vial in his hand. He
appears to have poisoned himself. Utterson notes that Hyde is wearing a
suit that belongs to Jekyll and that is much too large for him. The men
search the entire laboratory as well as the other rooms in the building,
but they find neither a trace of Jekyll nor a corpse.
18:35Frank They note a large
mirror and think it's strange to find such an item in a scientific
laboratory. Then, on Jekyll's business table, they find a large envelope
addressed to Utterson that contains three items. The first is a will,
much like the previous one, except that it replaces Hyde's name with
Utterson's. The second is a note to Utterson with the present day's date
on it. Based on this piece of evidence, Utterson surmises that Jekyll
is still alive, and he wonders if Hyde really died by suicide or if
Jekyll killed him.
19:04Elizabeth This note
instructs Utterson to go home immediately and read the letter that
Lanyon gave him earlier. It adds that if he desires to learn more,
Utterson can read the confession of your worthy and unhappy friend,
Henry Jekyll. Utterson takes the third item from the envelope, a sealed
packet, and promises Poole that he will return that night and send for
the police. He then heads back to his office to read Lanyon's letter and
the contents of the sealed packet.
19:31Frank Chapter 9 constitutes a
word-for-word transcription of the letter Lanyon intended Utterson to
open after Lanyon's and Jekyll's death. Lanyon writes that after
Jekyll's last dinner party, he received a strange letter from Jekyll.
The letter asked Lanyon to go to Jekyll's home and, with the help of
Poole, break into the upper room of Jekyll's laboratory.
19:51Gregory The letter
instructed Lanyon to remove a specific drawer and all its contents from
the laboratory, return with this drawer to his own home, and wait for a
man who would come to claim it precisely at midnight. The letter seemed
to Lanyon to have been written in a mood of desperation. It offered no
explanation for the orders it gave, but promised Lanyon that if he did
as it bade, he would soon understand everything.
20:12Elizabeth Lanyon duly went
to Jekyll's home, where Poole and a locksmith met him. The locksmith
broke into the lab, and Lanyon returned home with the drawer. Within the
drawer, Lanyon found several vials, one containing what seemed to be
salt and another holding a peculiar red liquid.
20:29Gregory The drawer also
contained a notebook recording what seemed to be years of experiments,
with little notations such as double or total failure, scattered amid a
long list of dates. However, the notebook offered no hints as to what
the experiments involved.
20:42Elizabeth Lanyon waited for
his visitor, increasingly certain that Jekyll must be insane. As
promised at the stroke of midnight, a small, evil-looking man appeared,
dressed in clothes much too large for him. It was, of course, Mr. Hyde,
but never having seen the man before, Lanyon did not recognize him. Hyde
seemed nervous and excited. He avoided polite conversation, interested
only in the contents of the drawer.
21:08Gregory Lanyon directed him
to it, and Hyde then asked for a graduated glass. In it, he mixed the
ingredients from the drawer to form a purple liquid, which then became
green. Hyde paused and asked Lanyon whether he should leave and take the
glass with him, or whether he should stay and drink it in front of
Lanyon, allowing the doctor to witness something that he claimed would
stagger the unbelief of Satan. Lanyon, irritated, declared that he had
already become so involved in the matter that he wanted to see the end
21:35Elizabeth Taking up the
glass, Hyde told Lanyon that his skepticism of transcendental medicine
would now be disproved. Before Lanyon's eyes, the deformed man drank the
glass in one gulp and then seemed to swell, his body expanding, his
face melting and shifting, until, shockingly, Hyde was gone and Dr.
Jekyll stood in his place. Lanyon here ends his letter stating that what
Jekyll told him afterward is too shocking to repeat, and that the
horror of the event has so wrecked his constitution that he will soon
die. That was a very Victorian phrase.
22:13Frank Wrecked his
constitution. This chapter finally makes explicit the nature of Dr.
Jekyll's relationship to his darker half, Mr. Hyde. The men are, in
fact, one and the same person.
22:25Gregory Chapter 10, the
final chapter, offers a transcription of the letter Jekyll leaves for
Utterson in the laboratory. The confession of your worthy and unhappy
friend, Henry Jekyll.
22:35Frank Jekyll writes that upon his birth, he possessed a large inheritance, a healthy body, and a hardworking, decent nature.
22:42Elizabeth His idealism
allowed him to maintain a respectable seriousness in public, while
hiding his more frivolous and indecent side. By the time he was fully
grown, he found himself leading a dual life, in which his better side
constantly felt guilt for the transgressions of his darker side.
23:01Frank I wonder what Jekyll considered the transgressions of his darker side.
23:06Gregory When his scientific
interest led to mystical studies as to the divided nature of man, he
hoped to find some solution to his own split in nature. Jekyll insists
that man is not truly one, but truly two. And he records how he dreamed
of separating the good and evil natures.
23:22Elizabeth Jekyll reports
that after much research, he eventually found a chemical solution that
might serve his purposes. Buying a large quantity of salt as his last
ingredient, he took the potion with the knowledge that he was risking
his life, but he remained driven by the hopes of making a great
23:41Gregory At first, he
experienced incredible pain and nausea, but as these symptoms subsided,
he felt vigorous and filled with recklessness and sensuality. He had
become the shrunken, deformed Mr. Hyde. He hypothesizes that Hyde's
small stature owed to the fact that this persona represented his evil
side alone, which up to that point had been repressed.
24:02Elizabeth Upon first looking
into a mirror after the transformation, Jekyll turned Hyde was not
repulsed by his new form. Instead, he experienced a leap of welcome. He
came to delight in living as Hyde. Jekyll was becoming too old to act
upon his more embarrassing impulses, but Hyde was a younger man, the
personification of the evil side.
24:24Gregory Transforming himself
into Hyde became a welcome outlet for Jekyll's passions. Jekyll
furnished a home and set up a bank account for his alter ego, and soon
sunk into utter degradation. But each time he transformed back into
Jekyll, he felt no guilt at Hyde's dark exploits, though he did try to
right whatever wrongs he had done.
24:43Elizabeth It was not until
two months before the Carew murder that Jekyll found cause for concern.
While asleep one night, he involuntarily transformed into Hyde without
the help of the potion and awoke in the body of his darker half. This
incident convinced him that he must cease with his transformations or
risk being trapped in Hyde's form forever.
25:06Frank But after two months
as Jekyll, he caved in and took the potion again. Hyde, so long
repressed, emerged wild and vengefully savage, and it was in this mood
that he beat Karrueh to death, delighting in the crime. Hyde showed no
remorse for the murder, but Jekyll knelt and prayed to God for
forgiveness, even before his transformation back was complete.
25:26Gregory The horrifying
nature of the murder convinced Jekyll never to transform himself again.
And it was during the subsequent months that Utterson and others
remarked that Jekyll seemed to have had a weight lifted from his
shoulders, and that everything seemed well with him.
though, Jekyll grew weary of constant virtue and indulged some of his
darker desires, in his own person, not that of Hyde. But this dip into
darkness proved sufficient to cause another spontaneous transformation
into Hyde, which took place one day when Jekyll was sitting in a park,
far from home.
25:58Gregory As Hyde, he
immediately felt brave and powerful, but he also knew that the police
would seize him for his murder of Carew. He could not even return to his
rooms to get his potions without a great risk of being captured.
26:09Frank And it was then that he sent word to Lanyon to break into his laboratory and get the potions for him.
26:14Elizabeth After that night,
he had to take a double dose of the potion every six hours to avoid
spontaneous transformation into Hyde. As soon as the drug began to wear
off, the transformation process would begin. It was one of these spells
that struck him as he spoke to Enfield and Utterson out the window,
forcing him to withdraw.
26:34Gregory In his last
desperate hours, Hyde grew stronger as Jekyll grew weaker. Moreover, the
salt necessary for the potion began to run out. Jekyll ordered more,
only to discover that the mineral did not have the same effect. He
realized that the original salt must have contained an impurity that
made the potion work.
26:51Elizabeth Jekyll then
anticipated the fast approach of the moment when he must become Hyde
permanently. He thus used the last of the potion to buy himself time,
during which to compose this final letter. Jekyll writes that he does
not know whether, when faced with discovery, Hyde will kill himself or
be arrested and hanged. But he knows that by the time Utterson reads
this letter, Henry Jekyll will be no more.
27:17Gregory At this point, all
the mysteries of the novel unravel, as we get this second account of the
same events that have been unfolding throughout the novel. Only this
time, instead of seeing them from the point of view of Utterson, we see
them from the point of view of Jekyll, and by extension, that of Hyde.
27:31Frank This shift in point of
view makes a great difference indeed. All of the events that seem
puzzling or inexplicable to us before are suddenly explained.
confession makes everything clear. The will that left everything to
Hyde, the events leading up to the brutal murder of Karrueh, it
clarifies the mystery of the similarity between Jekyll and Hyde's
handwritings, and why Jekyll seemed to improve dramatically after
Karrueh's murder, and why he abruptly went into a decline and was forced
28:02Gregory We know, finally,
the details behind Hyde's midnight visit to Lanyon and Jekyll's bizarre
disappearance from the window while talking to Enfield and Utterson. So,
too, is Jekyll's final disappearance explained.
28:13Frank You know, it's as if
there have been two parallel narratives throughout the novel, and we
have, until now, really been given access only to one. Note, though,
that in his confession, Jekyll refuses to give any description of his
youthful sins, and he does not actually elaborate on any of the
depravity, except, of course, the murder of Carew, in which Hyde
engages. Perhaps these deeds are so depraved that they defy all attempts
at true explanation, or perhaps our author Stevenson fears that to
describe them explicitly would be to destroy their eerie power. But with
Jekyll's confession, everything falls into place, and it does bring our
story to its conclusion.
28:49Elizabeth And maybe Jekyll had told some of those depraved deeds to Lanyon, and that's why Lanyon was so upset.
28:57Frank Right. And why Lanyon
wouldn't finish the letter that he wrote for Utterson. He said, I can't
go into anything further of what Jekyll told me. Great point. All right,
Elizabeth Gregory, great conversation, but now let's take a final break
and then head into the last segment where I'd like to ask the two of
you to share a moment or a character or a quote that we haven't had a
chance to talk about. Right now, you're listening to Novel
Conversations. I'm Frank Lovallo, and we'll be right back. Welcome back.
You're listening to Novel Conversations. I'm Frank Lovallo, and today
I've had a conversation about the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. All right, Elizabeth Gregory,
before our break, we ended our story, and now I'd like to ask the two of
you to share a moment or a character or a quote that we really haven't
had a chance to talk about yet. Elizabeth, do you have something for us?
29:56Elizabeth I found it
interesting that when Henry Jekyll was telling his confession, he
refused to take responsibility for Hyde. He always thought of Hyde as
another entity. And he didn't say, I did those things. He said, Hyde did
those things. and I refused to call that myself. Which, granted, he
wasn't fully in control of himself, but he chose to take that potion. He
came up with that potion in the first place, and he chose to take that
potion multiple times.
30:30Frank And he certainly knew what actions he took while as Mr. High.
30:34Elizabeth Exactly. He still had that memory, and he still chose to continue taking the potion over and over again.
30:40Frank He sort of blamed my dark side. That's my other side. That's not me.
30:45Gregory He also tries to
just, not justify it, but say like, well, I even tried to repair some of
the things that Hyde did. So it's okay.
30:55Frank Right. I dropped a few dollars by the girl's body. Right.
31:00Elizabeth I mean, it could
be kind of an allegory for being under the influence of drugs or
alcohol, whereas like, maybe you're not so much in control of your
actions, but you still chose to
31:13Gregory That's how I read it mostly.
31:14Frank And you would still be responsible for whatever those actions were, even if they occurred under the influence.
31:20Gregory And the pull of
addiction, yeah. Gregory, you have something to share? Yeah, I was
actually surprised. We talked about whether—I mean, everybody knows the
story. Like, the surprise was not a surprise. So knowing that, it seemed
to drag, and I wish I had I wish it had been much more from Jekyll and
Hyde's perspective the whole time. Like I feel like this 106 pages
should have been a 30-page lead into a much more interesting story. But I
was surprised because I always pictured him as like the Babadook, you
know? Hyde is like this big, massive. And then they kept describing him
as a small man. But then even right in the beginning, they described
him, it wasn't like a man, it was like some damned juggernaut. And that
made me think, well, then he's this massive creature, but he's just this
little creepy little man.
32:10Frank But he's a young man,
he's a vital man. That was the attraction for Jekyll, to create a
younger version of himself, if you will. And Stevenson does mention in
the novel that the reason that we see Hyde as smaller than some of the
other men is because as an evil side, he'd been repressed by Jekyll for
so long, he hasn't quite achieved his growth yet.
32:34Elizabeth I was thinking, though, about what it would be like to read this story as somebody who didn't have the spoiler.
32:40Gregory I kept trying to put myself in that, yeah.
32:42Frank Hard, right? As I
mentioned at the beginning, it's one of the most well-known endings of a
novel. Everyone knows what happens. Everyone knows who Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde are. You know, the parts of the novel that I found most
interesting were those that dwelt with the idea of two sides of man, the
good and the evil, and the reputable and the depraved. During the
story, Utterson describes dreams, nightmares actually, that he has of
Hyde. Hyde appears ubiquitous, permeating the city with his dark nature
and his crimes. This idea of Hyde as a universal presence suggests that
this faceless figure symbolizes, I don't know, all the secret sins that
lurk beneath the surface of respectable London or respectable men. This
notion of hidden crimes recurs throughout the novel, and Jekyll's
meditations on the dual nature of man, which prompts us four ways into
the experiments that bring forth Hyde, point to the novel's central
question about the nature of the relationship between the good and evil
portions of the human soul. All right, what a great way to end our
conversation today about The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by
Robert Louis Stevenson. Elizabeth Graver, I do want to thank both of you
for coming in and having this conversation with me today. I hope you
enjoyed it as much as I did. Yeah, it was great.
33:54Elizabeth Thank you. Thank you, Frank.
33:56Frank I'm Frank Lavallo, and
you've been listening to Novel Conversations. Thanks for listening to
Novel Conversations. If you're enjoying the show, please give us a
five-star review wherever you listen to podcasts. You can find us on
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upcoming episodes and in anything else we've got in the works. I want to
give special thanks to our readers today, Elizabeth Flood and Gregory
James. Our sound designer and producer is Noah Foutz, and Gray Sienna
Longfellow is our audio engineer. Our executive producers are Brigid
Coyne and Joan Andrews. I'm Frank Lavallo. Thank you for listening. I
hope you soon find yourself in a novel conversation all your own.