Study Guide

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Science

By Robert Louis Stevenson


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In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, science becomes a cover and justification for supernatural activities. Dr. Jekyll ostensibly derives his potion in some sort of scientific manner, as opposed to finding a magical amulet or something that releases evil as you might find in other stories. Dr. Jekyll’s brand of science, however, veers towards the "transcendental" (indeed, supernatural), while Dr. Lanyon adheres to a more traditional set of scientific notions. This disagreement causes an irreparable rift in their relationship, especially after Dr. Lanyon witnesses Dr. Jekyll’s transformation with his own eyes.

Questions About Science

  1. Is Dr. Jekyll a good scientist?
  2. What would the novel look like if Stevenson chose not to veer into supernatural transformations? If, say, Mr. Hyde were simply Dr. Jekyll with a mask on?
  3. Why did Dr. Jekyll begin transforming into Mr. Hyde without the aid of a potion? Why couldn’t he transform in the reverse direction?
  4. Note that no one in the novel ever suspects that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the same person. Why do you think the novel is constructed this way?

Chew on This

The physical transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde—albeit scientifically impossible—is a premise necessary to fully explore the idea of good and evil warring inside one man.