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Teaching Guide

Teaching Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Dr. Jekyll would have made a good teacher. Smart. Resourceful. The tendency to go off on a crazy rampage. Actually, scratch that last one, but we've all been there during a particularly frustrating lesson.

Students might think they know everything about this story—the literary equivalent of Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk. But it goes a lot deeper than "Hyde smash!" and we're here to decipher all the layers to this curious case.

In this guide you will find

  • activities to help students understand the Victorian ideals of the time and how infuriating they could be.
  • modern connections to works about multiple personalities, like Fight Club and Sybil.
  • discussion questions probing the mental health issues brought up by the text.

With this teaching guide, you can keep your Mr. Hyde side under wraps.

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Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop’s teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

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Instructions for You

Objective: Archaeologists study past societies by digging through the garbage that was left behind. For those of us who are not so keen on sanitation engineering, there are other options. Literary and historical texts can provide a glimpse into the psyche of civilizations gone by. Ancient Egyptians left us hieroglyphics, the Greeks left us The Odyssey, and the Victorians left us The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The point is that we can learn a lot about the values of a society by reading the stories that came out of that period. In order for those stories to make the most sense, however, it is also important to get a grasp on the history… no dumpster diving necessary.

This activity will get students familiar with the Victorian Era, a 64-year period where Queen Victoria straight up got things done! Students will research and analyze the historical context while evaluating how Stevenson's novella reflects the social consciousness of Londoners as the 19th century came to a close. You can expect to spend two class periods on this assignment.

Materials Needed:

  • Computers with internet access
  • Copies of the novella
  • Sticky notes

Step 1: In class, students should conduct a "Brain Dump." No, this isn't a junkyard for brains in disrepair (though we're sure you've got a few of those in your classroom), it's an opportunity for students to dump all their thinking about a particular topic on paper. Give them a few minutes to write down any thoughts about each of the following themes found in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and be sure to check out our Shmoop links for help).

Step 2: Sticky notes are great for annotating, plus they come in so many shapes and sizes these days, how can your students resist them? (We know you can't resist them; we've seen you at those Office Supply Addict meetings.) Equipped with their tacky tool, have the students scour the book to find examples of the themes listed in step one. When they find one of the themes, students should explain on their sticky note how the example from the book connects to the theme, then slap that puppy in the book, directly on the related text. Challenge students to make two annotations per theme, but be sure to remove the sticky notes from their possession before things devolve into a cartoon flip book session.

Step 3: The Victorian Era was not all fancy manners and poufy dresses, and before we can completely understand Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we'll need to dig into this period of history a bit. You can assign students to conduct some research on their own, or review these links together as a class. As they research, students should make note of anything that reminds them of the characters, themes, and situations in the novel.

Step 4: Now that the students are up-to-date on the suppressed Victorians, they will be able to easily answer this question: What you talkin' 'bout Robert Louis Stevenson?

Have students complete the following steps for each theme listed above. They may need to finish this step for homework depending on your schedule.

  • Write down the theme.
  • Provide two textual examples of that theme—hey, that's what those sticky notes are for!
  • Provide one historical fact that connects the theme to the Victorian Era. Don't forget to cite your source!
  • Provide a one-two sentence explanation for what Stevenson might be saying about Victorian Society.
  • Prepare to share using your best Victorian manners.

Step 5: Manners primed? Dresses puffed? Assignments finished? Great. Have students "take a turn about the room" with a partner. As they promenade (preferably arm-in-arm—it's the Victorian Era after all), they should share the information they compiled for at least three of their themes. Not only will they learn from one another, but they will also engage in a prudish activity that would make the Queen herself proud. Feel free to have students take a turn with more than one partner, and then regroup for a whole-class discussion:

  • What can we learn about Victorian society from this novel?
  • How does knowledge of Victorian society advance our understanding of the novel? For example, are there any themes or parts of the novel that make more sense now that you've researched this period of history?
  • What are some points you think the author might have been making about Victorian society? Is he critiquing or questioning certain aspects? Is he inviting readers to examine their society? How? Can you give a few specific examples?
  • What makes the setting of Victorian England so important to this story? How would the story be different if it were set in a different place/time with different social expectations?

Instructions for Your Students

Archaeologists study past societies by digging through the garbage that was left behind. For those of us who are not so keen on sanitation engineering, there are other options. Literary and historical texts can provide a glimpse into the psyche of civilizations gone by. Ancient Egyptians left us hieroglyphics, the Greeks left us The Odyssey, and the Victorians left us The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The point is that we can learn a lot about the values of a society by reading the stories that came out of that period. In order for those stories to make the most sense, however, it is also important to get a grasp on the history… no dumpster diving necessary.

In this activity, you'll get warm and cozy with the Victorian Era, a 64-year period where Queen Victoria straight up got things done! You will research and analyze the historical context while evaluating how Stevenson's novella reflects the social consciousness of Londoners as the 19th century came to a close.

Step 1: First, let's conduct a "Brain Dump." No, this isn't a junkyard for brains in disrepair (though a few of you could probably stand to at least clean out some cobwebs), it's an opportunity to dump all your thinking about a particular topic on paper. Take a few minutes to write down any thoughts about each of the following themes found in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and be sure to check out our Shmoop links for help). What do you remember about how these themes play out in the book?

Step 2: Sticky notes are great for annotating, plus they come in so many shapes and sizes these days, how can you resist them? Equipped with your tacky tool, scour the book to find examples of the themes listed in step one. When you find one of the themes, you should explain on your sticky note how the example from the book connects to the theme, then slap that puppy in the book, directly on the related text. We challenge you to make at least two annotations per theme. Oh, and no hoarding of sticky notes to create cartoon flip books; return the unused notes to your teacher, who needs them to feed her office supply addiction.

Step 3: The Victorian Era was not all fancy manners and poufy dresses, and before we can completely understand Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we'll need to dig into this period of history a bit. Conduct a little research (a tiny amount, we promise) on the period by checking out these links. As you research, make note of anything that reminds you of the characters, themes, and situations in the novel.

Step 4: Now that you are up-to-date on those suppressed Victorians, you're ready to answer the big question: What you talkin' 'bout Robert Louis Stevenson?

In other words, what's Stevenson really saying about Victorian life? To find out, complete the following steps for each theme listed above:

  • Write down the theme.
  • Provide two textual examples of that theme—hey, that's what those sticky notes are for!
  • Provide one historical fact that connects the theme to the Victorian Era. Don't forget to cite your source!
  • Provide a one-two sentence explanation for what Stevenson might be saying about Victorian Society.
  • Prepare to share using your best Victorian manners.

Step 5: Manners primed? Dresses puffed? Assignments finished? Great. It's time to "take a turn about the room" (fancy Victorian-speak for "walk around") with a partner. As you promenade (preferably arm-in-arm—it's the Victorian Era after all), you should share the information you compiled for at least three of the themes. We'll do this with a few different partners (like changing partners at one of those stuffy Victorian dances), and then regroup for a whole-class discussion:

  • What can we learn about Victorian society from this novel?
  • How does knowledge of Victorian society advance our understanding of the novel? For example, are there any themes or parts of the novel that make more sense now that you've researched this period of history?
  • What are some points you think the author might have been making about Victorian society? Is he critiquing or questioning certain aspects? Is he inviting readers to examine their society? How? Can you give a few specific examples?
  • What makes the setting of Victorian England so important to this story? How would the story be different if it were set in a different place/time with different social expectations?

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