What Extent Does The Opening Chapter Of The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll And Mr.Hyde Essay

In this assignment, I will be reading through the opening chapter of this novel and trying to explain to what extent the characters reveal things about themselves and what they keep to themselves. Also I will illustrate the way people’s reputation is presented. I will use examples from the text itself to back up my explanations and focus on the four main characters which are Utterson, Enfield, Jekyll and Hyde. I feel that privacy and reputation is very important to the plot of this story.

Mr. Utterson is a lawyer, he is described as a man of ‘rugged countenance’, that was never lightened by a smile; cold, scanty and ’embarrassed in discourse’; ‘backward in sentiment’; lean, long, dusty, dreary, ‘and yet somehow lovable’. He seems to be insecure with the fact that he keeps things to himself. He only has a few friends whom are related therefore he has become very acquainted with them for a very long period of time.

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He is not very social and appears not to favour visiting places. ‘He enjoyed the theatre, but had not crossed the door of one for twenty years’.

Mr. Utterson freely reveals that he is a true believer of ‘Cain’s heresy’, which at that moment in time was generally thought to be wrong.

I feel this is why he was very lonely.

I think that he thought that everyone had an evil side lurking inside of them, little did he know that Dr. Jekyll had invented such a formula to separate the good from the evil in human beings. I have found out that the one thing that Mr.Utterson hasn’t revealed about himself is why he has such a bond with his fellow kinsman Mr. Richard Enfield.

Mr. Enfield is ‘the well-known man about town’. It is strange to think that Mr. Enfield, a man who by all is considered to be popular would enjoy the company of a man who doesn’t seem to talk much and I suppose many think is not popular at all. Although they rank their excursions ‘the chief jewel of each week’. The book says ‘It was a nut to crack for many, what these two could see in each other’. When they are together they both become singularly dull, which is odd for Mr. Enfield as he is not a dull man, in fact he is the complete opposite.

On one of their weekly excursions, the two men passed a familiar door.

Mr. Utterson pointed with his cane, and Mr. Enfield replied with ‘a very odd story’. Late one night Enfield was walking when he saw a little man slumping along the street. He collided with a young girl running at the corner of the street. The horrible part was that the man continued to trample over the girl and did not stop. Enfield ran after him and tried to stop him.

The man was calm and gave no resistance but he did give Mr. Enfield a very ugly look. A group had settled around the girl, including a doctor.

‘The women acted like harpies’. The man pleaded for the incident to be kept a secret. The book said ‘…wishes to avoid a scene’. He was even willing to pay �100 to the girl’s family. They followed him back to his home (the door Utterson pointed too) and he whipped out a check from Coutts, a well respected bank for respectable and important people. Enfield knew deep down that something wasn’t right and this cheque didn’t belong to him, it couldn’t be, he needed to set his mind at rest.

Utterson and Enfield both agreed not to delve into other peoples business, and would not discuss this incident again. This is an example of how the characters use privacy to try and protect people’s reputation (Dr. Jekyll).

In this particular time period (Late 19th Century/Early 20th Century) a person’s reputation was very important and keeping it that way was necessary even if you had to keep your darkest secrets private. This is portrayed well in this novel.

Mr. Utterson. After hearing the story, reacts in a serious manner rather then the way Enfield does which isn’t . He agrees to everything he says and then says ‘It is a bad and sad story’. We know that secretly he believes that anyone is capable of doing bad deeds and deep down it doesn’t bother him at all. To be honest, I don’t think he even cares. He presents himself to be much more serious then he really is.

Each person involved with the incident has different reasons for keeping it private. They all want no one to find out what actually happened.

The girls family did not say a word as they had financial difficulties and wanted the �100 to help ease there problems. If people found out they might loose this money so it benefited them to keep quiet as they were not prepared to risk it.

Mr. Enfield wanted the incident to remain private as well due to the fact he knew how important a person’s reputation was. He thought that someone was being blackmailed and had an inklin it was Dr. Jekyll, he knew that Jekyll was very well respected. Also Enfield wanted to remain the man about town. Utterson followed the instructions that Enfield gave him as he was a loyal friend who respected Enfields opinions.

The reasons why Utterson and Enfield are reluctant to pry any further into Hyde’s connection with Jekyll are that later on in the novel Hyde commits another crime of brutality, except this time it is murder. The victim, Sir Danvers Carew. The policeman in charge of the Carew case was weirdly happy about this particular murder. ‘His eyes lit up with professional ambition’. He only wanted to improve his own reputation but at the risk of someone else’s. This is another example of reputation and how important it is to the plot and is also clear to see.

Enfield manages to find a link between the two men, as the murder weapon was a gift given to Jekyll by Mr. Enfield himself. This raised even more suspicion. Later on in the story Utterson and Enfield came across Hyde’s dreary house in Soho. They stumble upon the other half of the cane used to kill Sir Danvers Carew. This time Utterson was sure it was the very same cane that he had given to Jekyll. They both find expensive items which all help to link the two men together. At this point they stop themselves from searching anymore and try not to strengthen their own opinions.

I feel that they don’t even want to ruin Dr. Jekyll’s reputation as he is a well respected man.

If people were to find out about these sequences and that he could be such an evil man he would instantly loose his recognition and therefore Utterson and Enfield would feel very guilty indeed. Once again this proves the importance of privacy to maintain a person’s reputation.

I can sum up the opening chapter of “The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” by saying to what extent privacy and reputation is illustrated.

Enfield and Utterson explain many times that they will not interfere with the situation and that they should keep quiet about everything. They know by now that Dr.Jekyll has something to do with it but aren’t 100% sure whether it is the well respected doctor who is to blame. That’s why they want to keep private what they know so that no one else will find out.

This suggests that things are best kept private as there are lots of secrets about everyone and if you would like your reputation then it’s in your best interests that they are never leaked out. Respect for Jekyll is clear and Utterson and Enfield are sure that this will affect him in a great deal. Even Jekyll would now that his livelihood is under jeopardy and his evil side should be kept private no matter what.

I have shown how important these can be, especially in this time period, you’re life could depend on your reputation and you must keep that intact at all costs. You must keep your ‘evil’ side private for it to stay that way.


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