Learning Objective To develop understanding of Hyde as a symbol
A writer also uses symbols but creates them with words.
Think about what Hyde symbolises or represents as you work through some questions on this chapter.
1) Hyde lives in Soho (p22). Think about what we know of the reputation of that area. What impression does it give us of him?
2) On p23 Hyde is described as ‘hardly human.’ What aspect of humanity does he seem to lack? Soho is an area of London that, in Victorian times, was famous for its criminals - murderers and prostitutes, so we tend to think of Hyde as being associated with this aspect of humankind. He seems to lack compassion, human sympathy, and a sense of morality. He is described as being “without bowels of mercy” p.20
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell, The reason why I cannot tell; But this I know, and know full well, I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
Troglodyte : an animal living underground a person of degraded, primitive, or brutal character Page 23: “There is something more… something troglodytic… or can it be the old story of Dr Fell”
3) Hyde is described as taking ‘a hissing intake of breath’ (p21) and later on that he ‘snarled aloud with a savage laugh’ (p23). What sort of imagery is Stevenson using here? How does it make Hyde seem to us?
4) Utterson decides that ‘”If he be Mr Hyde,” he had thought, “I shall be Mr Seek.”’ (p21) Stevenson is playing with words here to give us a clue to his character. What does he want us to think about here? Animal imagery: firstly a snake and then a dog. This makes him seem more animal than human, savage and wild and not really a part of civilised society. Hyde wants to keep his true identity a secret and Utterson is determined to play the detective and reveal the truth about Hyde
5) Think about all these ideas. What do you think Hyde represents or symbolises?
You might want to try to link this to Stevenson’s view of people in general.
6) Why can no-one recognise or remember exactly what Hyde looks like? Utterson says ‘if I could find a name for it’ (p23), when trying to explain what the man looks like. Homo Sapiens is an animal (Darwin’s Theory of Evolution). Civilised behaviour is learned – it is not inbred. Hyde symbolises the basic, animalistic part of man’s nature. Everyone has a Hyde in them – it’s a question of how well we suppress it. It is because Hyde does not resemble any normal human being and therefore people find his appearance disconcerting and have no normal points of reference. Also it is important that Hyde’s true identity remains something of a mystery at this point in the novella.
You are going to get some questions but the answers will have to wait until later in the novel. This is just to get you to think about the mystery element of this novella. In mystery/detective stories questions are raised that remain unanswered for a while and clues are given to help the reader to try and guess the answers.
To develop the ability to speculate about events.
Questions to consider
Why is Hyde afraid at the bottom of p21?
Poole’s scale of values is quite clear: Hyde never "dines" in the house proper, because he is not socially accepted. Rather, he comes and goes by the laboratory, which links him to Jekyll’s experiments. Poole makes it clear that the servants are under orders to obey him. They do not do so freely, out of respect. Why does Hyde have a key to the house? Poole says Hyde is never seen ‘on this side of the house’ (p24). Why not? He is briefly afraid that he might be recognised as Dr. Jekyll He lives there! He is actually a part of Dr. Jekyll’s personality
Why has Lanyon not seen Jekyll for ‘more than ten years’? (p19)
Lanyon hasn’t seen Jekyll for over ten years because Lanyon thinks Jekyll lost his grip on reality and became ‘too fanciful’, engaging in ‘unscientific balderdash’. What might the ‘unscientific balderdash’ be? (p19) This unscientific balderdash is a reference to his experiments into separating out the evil part of man’s personality