Reading Questions: Jekyll & Hyde

Reading Questions, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

For some  background on Robert Louis Stevenson, check his biographical sketch at the Victorian Web.

Stevenson’s novella combines omniscient narration with interpolated “documents” such as Lanyon and Jekyll’s letters. What is achieved by including these documents rather than simply narrating the material they convey?

In several texts we’ve studied, we see doubles or “foil” characters: Jane/Bertha, Marlow/Kurtz, Scrooge/Marley, and perhaps even Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. What light, if any, do these doubles and foils shed on the story of Jekyll and Hyde?

How is character revealed in the novella? Think beyond Jekyll and Hyde’s characters here to consider the other men whom the story affects: Utterson, Enfield, and Lanyon, for example. How do we know what we know about them? How do they understand themselves? Why are these two different questions?

When Hyde reveals his secret to Lanyon, he claims that “a new province of knowledge and new avenues to fame and power shall be laid open to you.” What is the text’s attitude towards scientific progress?

What is the relationship between repression (or hypocrisy, or secrecy) and identity in the text?