Study Guide

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Curiosity

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Curiosity

Chapter 1
Mr. Enfield

"No, sir: I had a delicacy," was the reply. "I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgment. You start a question, and it's like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden and the family have to change their name. No sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask." (1.14)

Mr. Enfield differs from Mr. Utterson in terms of their respective curiosity.

But there was one curious circumstance. I had taken a loathing to my gentleman at first sight. So had the child's family, which was only natural. But the doctor's case was what struck me. He was the usual cut and dry apothecary, of no particular age and colour, with a strong Edinburgh accent and about as emotional as a bagpipe. Well, sir, he was like the rest of us; every time he looked at my prisoner, I saw that Sawbones turn sick and white with desire to kill him. (1.8)

Despite Mr. Enfield’s self-professed lack of curiosity, he has an eye for picking out a "curious circumstance."

Chapter 2
Mr. Gabriel Utterson

And still the figure had no face by which he might know it; even in his dreams, it had no face, or one that baffled him and melted before his eyes; and thus it was that there sprang up and grew apace in the lawyer's mind a singularly strong, almost an inordinate, curiosity to behold the features of the real Mr. Hyde. If he could but once set eyes on him, he thought the mystery would lighten and perhaps roll altogether away, as was the habit of mysterious things when well examined. (2.13)

Mr. Utterson is a curious person, but also very rational and not disposed toward supernatural explanations. He believes that mysteries can be solved by thorough inquiry.

From that time forward, Mr. Utterson began to haunt the door in the by-street of shops. In the morning before office hours, at noon when business was plenty, and time scarce, at night under the face of the fogged city moon, by all lights and at all hours of solitude or concourse, the lawyer was to be found on his chosen post. (2.14)

Mr. Utterson is a man who acts on his curiosity, unlike Mr. Enfield.

Chapter 6
Mr. Gabriel Utterson

It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it; and it may be doubted if, from that day forth, Utterson desired the society of his surviving friend with the same eagerness. He thought of him kindly; but his thoughts were disquieted and fearful. He went to call indeed; but he was perhaps relieved to be denied admittance; perhaps, in his heart, he preferred to speak with Poole upon the doorstep and surrounded by the air and sounds of the open city, rather than to be admitted into that house of voluntary bondage, and to sit and speak with its inscrutable recluse. Poole had, indeed, no very pleasant news to communicate.

The doctor, it appeared, now more than ever confined himself to the cabinet over the laboratory, where he would sometimes even sleep; he was out of spirits, he had grown very silent, he did not read; it seemed as if he had something on his mind. Utterson became so used to the unvarying character of these reports, that he fell off little by little in the frequency of his visits. (6.13-14)

Mr. Utterson’s curiosity allows his imagination to overpower his usually unquestioning belief in Dr. Jekyll’s good character.

A great curiosity came on the trustee, to disregard the prohibition and dive at once to the bottom of these mysteries; but professional honour and faith to his dead friend were stringent obligations; and the packet slept in the inmost corner of his private safe. (6.12)

Mr. Utterson’s moral code supersedes any stirrings of curiosity.

Chapter 9
Dr. Henry Jekyll

"And now," said he, "to settle what remains. Will you be wise? will you be guided? will you suffer me to take this glass in my hand and to go forth from your house without further parley? Or has the greed of curiosity too much command of you?" (9.28)

By asking if curiosity or prudence will win out, Mr. Hyde is taunting Dr. Lanyon.

Dr. Hastie Lanyon

Upon the reading of this letter, I made sure my colleague was insane; but till that was proved beyond the possibility of doubt, I felt bound to do as he requested. The less I understood of this farrago, the less I was in a position to judge of its importance; and an appeal so worded could not be set aside without a grave responsibility. (9.10)

Dr. Lanyon cooperated with the letter’s requests more out of curiosity than out of loyalty to his friend.

But here I took pity on my visitor's suspense, and some perhaps on my own growing curiosity. (9.21)

As one might expect from a man of science, Dr. Lanyon has an active curiosity.

Chapter 10
Dr. Henry Jekyll

But the temptation of a discovery so singular and profound at last overcame the suggestions of alarm. I had long since prepared my tincture; I purchased at once, from a firm of wholesale chemists, a large quantity of a particular salt which I knew, from my experiments, to be the last ingredient required; and late one accursed night, I compounded the elements, watched them boil and smoke together in the glass, and when the ebullition had subsided, with a strong glow of courage, drank off the potion. (10.3)

After creating the potion, Dr. Jekyll is much too curious not to drink it.