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Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Analysis: Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Initial Situation

Mr. Utterson discovers that his friend, Dr. Jekyll, plans on leaving his entire estate to an evil, evil man.

Quite a dramatic way to start things off. You might even call this shilling shocker "shocking." Mr. Utterson hears a story from his friend concerning the evil-doings of a Mr. Hyde. We find out that this name is familiar to Mr. Utterson – Mr. Utterson’s respectable friend Dr. Jekyll plans on leaving his entire estate to Mr. Hyde. This obviously sparks Mr. Utterson’s curiosity, and sets up the book’s central mystery: what’s the connection between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Conflict

Dr. Jekyll is less-than-forthcoming about his relationship to Mr. Hyde.

Mr. Utterson hunts down Mr. Hyde, who is rude and refuses to answer any questions. Mr. Utterson also questions Dr. Jekyll, who is polite and refuses to answer any questions. Thus, despite Mr. Utterson’s best efforts, Mr. Hyde remains an enigmatic character. Enigmatic – that sounds like conflict to us.

Complication

Sir Danvers Carew is killed by Mr. Hyde.

Mr. Hyde becomes a wanted man throughout London. Yes, that complicates things considerably. Dr. Lanyon dies and, in the grand tradition of dying characters everywhere, leaves documents with Mr. Utterson

Climax

Dr. Jekyll’s servants turn to Mr. Utterson, and they break into Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory.

This is climactic because it’s like the cops finally breaking down the door of a drug den. Actually, Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory really is a drug den.

Suspense

Mr. Hyde is dead on the floor, Dr. Jekyll is nowhere to be found, and there are documents for Mr. Utterson.

This is only momentarily suspenseful, because the last two chapters of the book are the documents that Mr. Utterson hastens home to read. The kimono is opened, and all is revealed.

Denouement

From Dr. Lanyon’s narrative, we learn that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are one and the same.

All those mysterious connections between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are finally explained.

Conclusion

From Dr. Jekyll’s narrative, we learn how he landed in such a complicated situation.

Dr. Jekyll gives his firsthand account of why and how he transformed into Mr. Hyde. We also find out that he really, really liked being evil, but that his conscience wouldn’t stand for it.

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