Fanny Stevenson was awakened one night by the cries of her husband, Robert Louis Stevenson. After waking him from his nightmare of monsters, instead of thanking her he yelled, "Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale." This nightmare became the central idea for many of the scenes of the book.
INTRODUCTION ESSAY "THE STRANGE CASE OF Dr. JEKYLL AND Mr. HYDE"
This is not only a good "bogey story", as Stevenson exclaimed when awakening from a dream, but also, and more importantly a story that lies closer to poetry than to fiction.
Is Jekyll good? No, he is a mixture of good and bad. Hyde is mingled with him, within him. Hyde is pure evil. Jekyll is not really transformed into Hyde but projects a concentrate of pure evil that becomes Hyde. There are really three personalities, Jekyll, Hyde and the Jekyll residue when Hyde takes over.
Jekyll is not pure good, and Hyde is not pure evil because just parts of the unacceptable Hyde dwell within the acceptable Jekyll, so they are always one in the same. Just as Jekyll is a mixture of good and bad, to is Jekyll's dwelling place.
Mr. Utterson is a wealthy, well-respected London lawyer, a reserved and perhaps even boring man who nevertheless inspires a strange fondness in those who know him. Despite his great respectability, he never abandons a friends whose reputations has been sullied or ruined.
Utterson nurtures a close friendship with Mr. Enfield, his distant relative and likewise a respectable London gentleman. The two seem to have little in common, and when they take their weekly walk together they often go for quite a distance without saying anything to one another; nevertheless, they look forward to these strolls as one of the high points of the week.
As the story begins, Utterson and Enfield are taking their regular Sunday stroll and walking down a particularly prosperous-looking street. They come upon a neglected building, which seems out of place in the neighborhood, and Enfield relates a story in connection with it. Enfield was walking in the same neighborhood late one night, when he witnessed a shrunken, misshapen man crash into and trample a young girl. He collared the man before he could get away, and then brought him back to the girl, around whom an angry crowd had gathered. The captured man appeared so overwhelmingly ugly that the crowd immediately despised him. United, the crowd threatened to ruin the ugly man’s good name unless he did something to make amends; the man, seeing himself trapped, bought them off with one hundred pounds, which he obtained upon entering the neglected building through its only door. Strangely enough, the check bore the name of a very reputable man; furthermore, and in spite of Enfield’s suspicions, it proved to be legitimate and not a forgery. Enfield hypothesizes that the ugly culprit had somehow blackmailed the man whose name appeared on the check. Spurning gossip, however, Enfield refuses to reveal that name.
Utterson then asks several pointed questions confirming the details of the incident. Enfield tries to describe the nature of the mysterious man’s ugliness but cannot express it, stating, ”I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why.” He divulges that the culprit’s name was Hyde, and, at this point, Utterson declares that he knows the man, and notes that he can now guess the name on the check. But, as the men have just been discussing the virtue of minding one’s own business, they promptly agree never to discuss the matter again.
Utterson, prompted by his conversation with Enfield, goes home to study a will that he drew up for his close friend Dr. Jekyll. It states that in the event of the death or disappearance of Jekyll, all of his property should be given over immediately to a Mr. Edward Hyde. This strange will had long troubled Utterson, but now that he has heard something of Hyde’s behavior, he…