Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde – Themes

Social Appearances

The main motivations for the characters in the novel seem to be a form of preventing their names from being tarnished. Utterson works unstintingly to protect the reputation of his friend, Jekyll, who would lose a great deal if his association with Hyde became well-known. Bear in mind that the public might question his scientific studies, let alone their results, he needs his friends to be discreet. The protagonists are all members of the upper class and aristocracy and are aware of the expectations of their society. It is paramount at all times to be seen to do the right thing.

In the first chapter, Enfield is careful about sharing the story as he knows that gossip can destroy a reputation. Later, following the murder of Carew, Utterson does not tell the police of Jekyll’s connection to Hyde purely so his reputation can remain intact. Instead, he chooses to discuss the matter with Jekyll directly.

This crosses into the notion of pathetic fallacy, where Hyde’s lair is run-down and degenerate. In contrast, Jekyll’s house is opulent and well-kept. Later we learn that the two properties are joined by a back entrance, and thus the houses act as a clear metaphor for the main characters and their relationship.

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