Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Chapters 2 & 3 Summary & Analysis | SparkNotes (2024)

Summary: Chapter 2

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 of his property should be given over immediately to a Mr. Edward Hyde. This strange will had 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. 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.”

Later that night, Utterson is haunted by nightmares in which a faceless man runs down a small child and in which the same terrifying, faceless figure stands beside Jekyll’s bed and commands him to rise. Soon, Utterson begins to spend time around the run-down building where Enfield saw Hyde enter, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Hyde. Hyde, a small young man, finally appears, and Utterson approaches him. Utterson introduces himself as a friend of 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. 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.

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. 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 wrongdoings that Jekyll committed in his youth.

Summary: Chapter 3

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 “learning something of young Hyde.” 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 and testament.

Analysis: Chapters 2–3

Utterson behaves here like an amateur detective, as he does throughout the rest of the novel. However, unlike most detectives, he faces a gulf between what seems to be the factual evidence of the case and the supernatural reality behind it. This gulf is apparent in Utterson’s reading of the will, for instance. On the face of it, Jekyll’s stipulation that all his property be handed over to Hyde and his later horror at the thought of Utterson “learning something of young Hyde” seem to point squarely at blackmail of some sort. Of course, Utterson never imagines the situation that lies behind these behaviors. Similarly, the will’s reference to “death or disappearance” (emphasis added) makes Utterson immediately think of the possibility of murder. The idea that Jekyll could literally transform himself into another and thereby disappear simply does not occur to Utterson, as it would not occur to any rational person. Utterson’s failure to detect the truth does not demonstrate any failure in logic.

Read important quotes about the rational vs. the irrational.

However, Stevenson does contrive to have his hardheaded lawyer access the dark supernatural undercurrents at work in the case of Jekyll and Hyde—if only in a limited way. Stevenson enlightens Utterson through the use of the dream sequence. In Utterson’s dreams, the faceless figure of Hyde stalks through the city: “if at any time [Utterson] dozed over,” the author writes, “it was but to see [Hyde] glide more stealthily through sleeping houses, or move the more swiftly … through wider labyrinths of lamp-lighted city, and at every street corner crush a child and leave her screaming.” In Utterson’s dreams, then, 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, crushing children and standing by Jekyll’s bed, symbolizes all the secret sins that lurk beneath the surface of respectable London. This notion of hidden crimes recurs throughout the novel. It is significant that Stevenson never gives us any details of Jekyll’s indiscretions prior to his creation of Hyde, nor of Hyde’s wicked, dissipated habits. The crimes remain shrouded in mystery; to explain them in rational language would strip them of their supernatural and eerie quality.

Hyde’s ugliness prompts a similar loss of words. When Utterson finally converses with Hyde and sees his face, like Enfield, he proves unable to comprehend and delineate exactly what makes Hyde so ugly and frightening. Significantly, though, one of the words that the fumbling lawyer comes up with is “troglodyte,” a term referring to a prehistoric, manlike creature. Through this word, the text links the immoral Hyde to the notion of recidivism—a fall from civilization and a regression to a more primitive state. The imperialist age of Victorian England manifested a great fear of recidivism, particularly in its theories of racial science, in which theorists cautioned that lesser, savage peoples might swallow up the supposedly-superior white races.

Read more about the symbolism of Mr. Hyde’s physical appearance.

The description of Jekyll’s house introduces an element of clear symbolism. The doctor lives in a well-appointed home, described by Stevenson as having “a great air of wealth and comfort.” The building secretly connects to his laboratory, which faces out on another street and appears sinister and run-down. It is in the 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.

Read more about Jekyll’s house and laboratory as symbols.

These chapters also introduce us to the minor character of Dr. Lanyon, Jekyll’s former colleague. Lanyon’s labeling of Jekyll’s research as “unscientific balderdash” hints at the supernatural bent of the experiments, which contrasts powerfully with the prevailing scientific consensus of the Victorian world, in which rationalism and materialism held sway. In his reverence for the rational and logical, Lanyon emerges as the quintessential nineteenth-century scientist, automatically dismissing Jekyll’s mystical experiments. Later events prove that his dogmatic faith in a purely material science is more akin to superstition than Jekyll’s experiments.

As an expert in the field of gothic literature and psychological thrillers, I must say that the concepts used in the article you provided are fascinating and deeply rooted in the themes explored in the novel "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson.

One of the key concepts in the article is the duality of human nature, which is exemplified through the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll represents the respectable, upstanding member of society, while Mr. Hyde embodies the darker, more sinister aspects of human nature. This duality is explored through Jekyll's experiments, which allow him to transform into Hyde and indulge in his hidden desires and vices.

Another concept highlighted in the article is the idea of the supernatural and the irrational. While Utterson, the protagonist, initially approaches the case from a logical and rational perspective, he eventually becomes aware of the dark supernatural forces at play. This is evident in the dream sequences described in the article, where Hyde is portrayed as a universal presence, symbolizing the hidden sins and crimes that lurk beneath the surface of Victorian society.

Symbolism is also a significant concept in the article. The description of Jekyll's house as well-appointed and comfortable, in contrast to the sinister and run-down laboratory, represents the stark dichotomy between Jekyll's public persona and his hidden experiments. This symbolism extends to the characters themselves, as Jekyll and Hyde appear separate but share an unseen inner connection.

Furthermore, the article touches on the conflict between rationalism and the supernatural. Dr. Lanyon, Jekyll's former colleague, dismisses Jekyll's experiments as "unscientific balderdash," reflecting the prevailing scientific consensus of the Victorian era. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Lanyon's faith in purely material science is misguided, and Jekyll's experiments delve into a realm beyond rational explanation.

Overall, the concepts explored in the article provide a glimpse into the complex themes and motifs present in "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." The novel delves into the depths of human nature, the struggle between good and evil, and the consequences of suppressing one's dark desires. It is a thought-provoking exploration of the human psyche and the dark forces that lie within us all.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Chapters 2 & 3  Summary & Analysis | SparkNotes (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aracelis Kilback

Last Updated:

Views: 6524

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aracelis Kilback

Birthday: 1994-11-22

Address: Apt. 895 30151 Green Plain, Lake Mariela, RI 98141

Phone: +5992291857476

Job: Legal Officer

Hobby: LARPing, role-playing games, Slacklining, Reading, Inline skating, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Dance

Introduction: My name is Aracelis Kilback, I am a nice, gentle, agreeable, joyous, attractive, combative, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.