Study Guide

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Friendship

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Friendship

Chapter 1
Mr. Gabriel Utterson

"We told the man we could and would make such a scandal out of this as should make his name stink from one end of London to the other. If he had any friends or any credit, we undertook that he should lose them." (1.8)

The loss of friendship is a serious threat in Victorian society.

But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove. "I incline to Cain's heresy," he used to say quaintly: "I let my brother go to the devil in his own way." In this character, it was frequently his fortune to be the last reputable acquaintance and the last good influence in the lives of downgoing men. (1.1)

Mr. Utterson is a steadfast friend, even when his friends are social outcasts or criminals.

Chapter 2
Mr. Gabriel Utterson

At sight of Mr. Utterson, he sprang up from his chair and welcomed him with both hands. The geniality, as was the way of the man, was somewhat theatrical to the eye; but it reposed on genuine feeling. For these two were old friends, old mates both at school and college, both thorough respecters of themselves and of each other, and what does not always follow, men who thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. (2.4)

Dr. Lanyon and Mr. Utterson have a strong friendship.

And the lawyer, scared by the thought, brooded awhile on his own past, groping in all the corners of memory, least by chance some Jack-in-the-Box of an old iniquity should leap to light there. (2.50)

His friend’s hypothetical situation prompts Mr. Utterson to examine whether he might have traveled down a similar path.

Or else he would see a room in a rich house, where his friend lay asleep, dreaming and smiling at his dreams; and then the door of that room would be opened, the curtains of the bed plucked apart, the sleeper recalled, and lo! there would stand by his side a figure to whom power was given, and even at that dead hour, he must rise and do its bidding. (2.13)

Rather than believe that Dr. Jekyll is in fact friends with Mr. Hyde, Mr. Utterson’s first conclusion is that Mr. Hyde has some sort of control over Dr. Jekyll. This interpretation is most likely colored by their friendship.

He gave his friend a few seconds to recover his composure, and then approached the question he had come to put. (2.10)

Mr. Utterson is considerate, but never abandons his objectives.

Dr. Hastie Lanyon

"We had," was the reply. "But it is more than ten years since Henry Jekyll became too fanciful for me. He began to go wrong, wrong in mind; and though of course I continue to take an interest in him for old sake's sake, as they say, I see and I have seen devilish little of the man. Such unscientific balderdash," added the doctor, flushing suddenly purple, "would have estranged Damon and Pythias." (2.9)

Dr. Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll are estranged because they disagree over science. This suggests an initial frailty to their friendship in contrast to the strength of Lanyon and Utterson’s relationship.

Chapter 3
Dr. Henry Jekyll

"Jekyll," said Utterson, "you know me: I am a man to be trusted. Make a clean breast of this in confidence; and I make no doubt I can get you out of it."

"My good Utterson," said the doctor, "this is very good of you, this is downright good of you, and I cannot find words to thank you in. I believe you fully; I would trust you before any man alive, ay, before myself, if I could make the choice; but indeed it isn't what you fancy; it is not as bad as that; and just to put your good heart at rest, I will tell you one thing: the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde. I give you my hand upon that; and I thank you again and again; and I will just add one little word, Utterson, that I'm sure you'll take in good part: this is a private matter, and I beg of you to let it sleep." (3.10)

Mr. Utterson offers his unconditional help to Dr. Jekyll; Dr. Jekyll says he trusts Mr. Utterson unequivocally, but refuses the offer.

A close observer might have gathered that the topic was distasteful; but the doctor carried it off gaily. "My poor Utterson," said he, "you are unfortunate in such a client. I never saw a man so distressed as you were by my will; unless it were that hide-bound pedant, Lanyon, at what he called my scientific heresies. O, I know he's a good fellow—you needn't frown—an excellent fellow, and I always mean to see more of him; but a hide-bound pedant for all that; an ignorant, blatant pedant. I was never more disappointed in any man than Lanyon."

"You know I never approved of it," pursued Utterson, ruthlessly disregarding the fresh topic.

"My will? Yes, certainly, I know that," said the doctor, a trifle sharply. "You have told me so." (3.3)

Mr. Utterson will not back down if he believes he is acting in his friend’s best interests.

A fortnight later, by excellent good fortune, the doctor gave one of his pleasant dinners to some five or six old cronies, all intelligent, reputable men and all judges of good wine; and Mr. Utterson so contrived that he remained behind after the others had departed. This was no new arrangement, but a thing that had befallen many scores of times. (3.1)

Dr. Jekyll is friends with only men of good standing, intelligence, and solid judgment of wine. He seems to have assimilated Victorian standards.

Mr. Gabriel Utterson

To this rule, Dr. Jekyll was no exception; and as he now sat on the opposite side of the fire—a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness—you could see by his looks that he cherished for Mr. Utterson a sincere and warm affection. (3.1)

Dr. Jekyll has warm feelings of friendship for Mr. Utterson.

Chapter 4
Mr. Gabriel Utterson

A purse and gold watch were found upon the victim: but no cards or papers, except a sealed and stamped envelope, which he had been probably carrying to the post, and which bore the name and address of Mr. Utterson.

This was brought to the lawyer the next morning, before he was out of bed; and he had no sooner seen it and been told the circumstances, than he shot out a solemn lip. (4.2)

Mr. Utterson’s friendships help him obtain crucial information regarding the mysterious Jekyll/Hyde connection. This is how friendship drives the plot forward.

This last, however, was not so easy of accomplishment; for Mr. Hyde had numbered few familiars—even the master of the servant maid had only seen him twice; his family could nowhere be traced; he had never been photographed; and the few who could describe him differed widely, as common observers will. Only on one point were they agreed; and that was the haunting sense of unexpressed deformity with which the fugitive impressed his beholders. (4.18)

In other words, Mr. Hyde doesn’t have any friends. His isolation is a consequence of his evil nature.

Chapter 5
Mr. Gabriel Utterson

The newsboys, as he went, were crying themselves hoarse along the footways: "Special edition. Shocking murder of an M.P." That was the funeral oration of one friend and client; and he could not help a certain apprehension lest the good name of another should be sucked down in the eddy of the scandal. It was, at least, a ticklish decision that he had to make; and self-reliant as he was by habit, he began to cherish a longing for advice. (5.21)

Mr. Utterson does not want the murder of one friend to cause the ruin of another—yet his conscience does prick him regarding Hyde’s letter.

Chapter 6
Mr. Gabriel Utterson

A week afterwards Dr. Lanyon took to his bed, and in something less than a fortnight he was dead. The night after the funeral, at which he had been sadly affected, Utterson locked the door of his business room, and sitting there by the light of a melancholy candle, drew out and set before him an envelope addressed by the hand and sealed with the seal of his dead friend. "PRIVATE: for the hands of G. J. Utterson ALONE, and in case of his predecease to be destroyed unread," so it was emphatically superscribed; and the lawyer dreaded to behold the contents. "I have buried one friend to-day," he thought: "what if this should cost me another?" And then he condemned the fear as a disloyalty, and broke the seal. (6.12)

Although Mr. Utterson worries that Dr. Lanyon’s last testament will unforgivably incriminate Dr. Jekyll, he brushes his unease aside.

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)

For Mr. Utterson, friendship trumps curiosity—even when one friend is in the grave.

On the 8th of January Utterson had dined at the doctor's with a small party; Lanyon had been there; and the face of the host had looked from one to the other as in the old days when the trio were inseparable friends. On the 12th, and again on the 14th, the door was shut against the lawyer. "The doctor was confined to the house," Poole said, "and saw no one." On the 15th, he tried again, and was again refused; and having now been used for the last two months to see his friend almost daily, he found this return of solitude to weigh upon his spirits. The fifth night he had in Guest to dine with him; and the sixth he betook himself to Dr. Lanyon's. (6.2)

Mr. Utterson is accustomed to dining with friends, in contrast to the evil and solitary Mr. Hyde.

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)

Mr. Utterson finally begins to doubt Dr. Jekyll’s good character—and is in fact relieved to be denied admittance into his friend’s house.

Chapter 8
Mr. Gabriel Utterson

The lawyer put it in his pocket. "I would say nothing of this paper. If your master has fled or is dead, we may at least save his credit." (8.97)

Mr. Utterson is concerned with saving his friend’s reputation.

"These are all very strange circumstances," said Mr. Utterson, "but I think I begin to see daylight. Your master, Poole, is plainly seized with one of those maladies that both torture and deform the sufferer; hence, for aught I know, the alteration of his voice; hence the mask and the avoidance of his friends; hence his eagerness to find this drug, by means of which the poor soul retains some hope of ultimate recovery—God grant that he be not deceived! There is my explanation; it is sad enough, Poole, ay, and appalling to consider; but it is plain and natural, hangs well together, and delivers us from all exorbitant alarms." (8.42)

We’ll go out on a limb and say that this passage may prove that Poole knows Dr. Jekyll better than, or as well as, Mr. Utterson does.

Poole

"O, sir," cried Poole, "do you think I do not know my master after twenty years? Do you think I do not know where his head comes to in the cabinet door, where I saw him every morning of my life? No, sir, that thing in the mask was never Dr. Jekyll—God knows what it was, but it was never Dr. Jekyll; and it is the belief of my heart that there was murder done." (8.43)

Poole’s steadfast loyalty to Dr. Jekyll is borne out of twenty years of being his servant, not out of being his friend.

Chapter 9
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 complies with the letter’s requests more out of curiosity than out of loyalty to his friend.

Dr. Henry Jekyll

"Dear Lanyon,—You are one of my oldest friends; and although we may have differed at times on scientific questions, I cannot remember, at least on my side, any break in our affection. There was never a day when, if you had said to me, 'Jekyll, my life, my honour, my reason, depend upon you,' I would not have sacrificed my left hand to help you. Lanyon my life, my honour, my reason, are all at your mercy; if you fail me to-night, I am lost. You might suppose, after this preface, that I am going to ask you for something dishonourable to grant. Judge for yourself." (9.3)

Dr. Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll actually have a strong friendship—or at least Dr. Jekyll thinks so.

Chapter 10
Dr. Henry Jekyll

When I came to myself at Lanyon's, the horror of my old friend perhaps affected me somewhat: I do not know; it was at least but a drop in the sea to the abhorrence with which I looked back upon these hours. A change had come over me. It was no longer the fear of the gallows, it was the horror of being Hyde that racked me. (10.25)

The disapproval of an old friend has the power to make Dr. Jekyll fear the fate of permanently being Mr. Hyde.

To cast in my lot with Jekyll, was to die to those appetites which I had long secretly indulged and had of late begun to pamper. To cast it in with Hyde, was to die to a thousand interests and aspirations, and to become, at a blow and forever, despised and friendless. (10.16)

Even Dr. Jekyll admits that Mr. Hyde has no friends.