Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Summary

Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Book Cover


“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson is a captivating novella that explores the duality of human nature and the consequences of suppressing one’s darker impulses. Published in 1886, this Gothic tale delves into the psychological struggle between good and evil within the same individual. Through the character of Dr. Jekyll, Stevenson examines the dangers of repressing one’s inner desires and the destructive consequences that arise when these desires are unleashed. This book summary will provide an overview of the plot, delve into the themes explored in the novella, and analyze the characters that shape this haunting tale.

Plot Summary

The story is set in Victorian London and follows the respected and well-regarded Dr. Henry Jekyll, a man known for his charitable acts and scientific pursuits. However, Dr. Jekyll harbors a dark secret: he has developed a potion that enables him to transform into a completely different person, Mr. Edward Hyde. Hyde represents the embodiment of Jekyll’s repressed desires and immoral tendencies.

As the narrative unfolds, Jekyll’s close friend and lawyer, Mr. Utterson, becomes increasingly suspicious of the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde. Utterson, driven by curiosity and concern for his friend, embarks on a quest to uncover the truth. Through a series of encounters and revelations, Utterson unravels the connection between Jekyll and Hyde, ultimately discovering that they are one and the same.

The Duality of Human Nature

One of the central themes in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is the exploration of the duality of human nature. Stevenson presents the idea that every individual possesses both good and evil within them, and that suppressing one’s darker impulses can have dire consequences. Dr. Jekyll’s experimentations with his potion represent his desire to separate these two aspects of his personality, believing that he can indulge in his immoral desires without tarnishing his reputation.

However, as Hyde begins to take control, Jekyll finds himself unable to control the transformations. The more he succumbs to his darker side, the more he loses his ability to return to his original form. This serves as a cautionary tale, illustrating the dangers of denying one’s true nature and the potential for destruction when attempting to separate the good from the evil.

The Destructive Power of Repression

Another significant theme in the novella is the destructive power of repression. Jekyll’s transformation into Hyde is a result of his repression of his immoral desires. By suppressing these desires, he inadvertently gives them a life of their own, manifesting as the sinister Mr. Hyde. This suggests that repressing one’s true self can lead to the emergence of a darker, more destructive persona.

Stevenson uses vivid descriptions to portray Hyde as a repugnant and loathsome character, emphasizing the consequences of allowing one’s darker impulses to run unchecked. Hyde’s actions become increasingly violent and immoral, ultimately leading to tragedy and death. This serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences when one tries to bury their true nature.

The Impact of Society’s Expectations

Throughout the novella, Stevenson also explores the impact of societal expectations on individuals. Dr. Jekyll, as a respected member of Victorian society, feels compelled to maintain a façade of morality and respectability. This societal pressure to conform to a particular image drives Jekyll to create Hyde as an outlet for his repressed desires.

By creating Hyde, Jekyll is able to indulge in his immoral tendencies without tarnishing his own reputation. This highlights the hypocrisy of Victorian society, where individuals were expected to adhere to strict moral codes while secretly indulging in their vices. Stevenson critiques this double standard, suggesting that the suppression of one’s true self can have devastating consequences.

Characters Analysis

Dr. Henry Jekyll

Dr. Jekyll is a complex character who embodies the struggle between good and evil. Initially portrayed as a respected and virtuous man, Jekyll’s experiments with his potion reveal his desire to explore his darker side. As Hyde begins to dominate, Jekyll becomes trapped in a cycle of transformation, losing control over his own identity. Jekyll’s character serves as a cautionary tale, warning against the dangers of denying one’s true nature.

Mr. Edward Hyde

Mr. Hyde represents the embodiment of Jekyll’s repressed desires and immoral tendencies. Hyde is described as a small, deformed, and sinister figure, reflecting the evil that lies within Jekyll. Hyde’s actions become increasingly violent and immoral, showcasing the destructive power of indulging in one’s darker impulses. Stevenson uses Hyde as a symbol of the consequences that arise when one’s inner desires are unleashed.

Mr. Utterson

Mr. Utterson, a close friend and lawyer of Dr. Jekyll, serves as the primary narrator and investigator in the novella. Utterson’s curiosity and concern for Jekyll drive him to uncover the truth behind Jekyll’s relationship with Hyde. As the story progresses, Utterson becomes increasingly disturbed by Hyde’s actions and the connection to his friend. Utterson’s character provides an outsider’s perspective, allowing readers to witness the unfolding events through his eyes.


“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is a thought-provoking and chilling tale that delves into the duality of human nature and the consequences of suppressing one’s darker impulses. Through the characters of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and Mr. Utterson, Stevenson explores themes of duality, repression, and societal expectations. This novella serves as a timeless reminder of the dangers of denying one’s true nature and the potential for destruction when one tries to separate the good from the evil within.

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