Short summary - Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson

British literature summaries -

Short summary - Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson

The story takes place in London, at the end of the XIX century.

Mr. Atterson, a notary public, was an introverted man, laconic and awkward in society, and yet very pretty. He was strict with himself, but to the weaknesses of his neighbors he showed indulgence, preferring to help rather than condemn. Therefore, he often had to be the last decent acquaintance of many deserted people and the last good influence in their lives. It was precisely this kind of friendship bonds that connected Mr. Atterson with his distant relative, Mr. Richard Enfield, the famous London bon vivant. Both of them loved Sunday walks together, for the sake of which they sacrificed other activities.

One Sunday, an incident led them to a certain street in one of London's business districts. Its inhabitants succeeded, so the street looked clean and smart. This tidiness was violated only by one building, which has a sullen, non-residential appearance. Mr. Anfield told Atterson a strange story related to this building.

Once, Anfield was returning home at three in the morning through this street. Suddenly he saw a short man walking quickly along a street. A girl about nine years old ran across the cross street. At the corner they collided, a man stepped on a fallen girl and did not even turn around at her moans. Anfield rushed forward and grabbed the man by the collar. Around the girl, people have already gathered - native girls. Anfield noted that the man’s appearance aroused a feeling of hatred and loathing in everyone. To punish the man, he was forced to pay one hundred pounds to the girl’s relatives. He unlocked the door of this house and handed out a check signed with the name Hyde. From that night, Anfield began to observe this building and found out that no one lives there except Hyde. Most of Anfield was struck by Hyde's appearance. There was no obvious ugliness in him, but in his appearance there was some elusive unusualness that caused disgust and hatred.

Mr. Atterson returned home that evening in a painful mood. After lunch, he went to his office and took out a document from the safe, which read: "The will of Dr. Jekyll." According to the will of Dr. Jekyll, all his property was transferred to his friend Edward Hyde, not only in the event of the death of Dr. Jekyll, but also in the event of his disappearance or inexplicable absence for more than three months. This testament of an old friend had long bothered Atterson. Now he began to suspect that he was hiding some kind of crime or blackmail. Mr. Atterson's famous friend, Dr. Lenol, had not seen Jekyll for a long time and did not know anything about Hyde.

From then on, Mr. Atterson began to monitor the door in the shopping street. He knew that this building was owned by Dr. Jekyll. Atterson wanted to see Hyde's face. Finally his patience was rewarded. Even at a distance, the notary public felt something repulsive in him. Hyde was pale and squat, he gave the impression of a freak, although there was no noticeable ugliness in him. He smiled extremely unpleasantly, and his voice was hoarse, quiet and intermittent, but all this could not explain why Mr. Atterson had felt until now an unknown disgust, disgust and fear. «My poor Henry Jekyll, the seal of Satan is clearly visible on the face of your new friend,» muttered Atterson.

Immediately after meeting Hyde, Atterson turned a corner and knocked on the door of Dr. Jekyll’s house. The notary did not manage to meet with another. The butler Poole, who met him, said that the owner was not at home. Atterson wandered home with a heavy heart, reflecting on his friend's strange testament.

Two weeks later, Dr. Jekyll gave one of his dinners, which Mr. Atterson also attended. After lunch, left alone with a friend, Mr. Atterson began a conversation about the will. Jekyll was unpleasant about this topic. He refused to discuss his decision, asked Atterson not to intervene and help Hyde when the time came. Atterson had to agree.

Eleven months later, in October 18 **, London was shocked by a brutal crime, the victim of which was a man who held a high position. The only witness to the murder was a maid, who was left alone in a house near the river. That night, she could not sleep. She looked out the window and saw how two gentlemen met under her window: one — an elderly, very handsome, with snow-white hair; the other is short and nondescript, in which the maid recognized Mr. Hyde. A dispute began between them. Suddenly, Mr. Hyde became wildly furious, he knocked the elderly gentleman down with his cane and, with monkey anger, began to trample his victim and shower him with blows. Horror lost the maid. At two in the morning she woke up and called the police. A cane, a murder weapon, was broken in half, and the killer took one part with him.

In the morning, Atterson drove to the police station and identified Carew as Sir Danvers. Upon hearing that Hyde was suspected of murder, the notary decided to indicate his home to the police. He was not in the room that Hyde rented in one of the London slums, but a second fragment of a cane was found there. Hyde's fault was now undeniable. However, it was not easy to describe his signs: he did not have friends, could not find any of his relatives, and his features were too inconspicuous, and everyone described him in different ways. All converged only in the sensation of ugliness that came from Mr. Hyde.

In the evening, Atterson again went to see Dr. Jekyll. Poole immediately led a notary to the building in the back of the yard, called a laboratory or sectional. The doctor bought a house from the heirs of the famous surgeon, but, having a penchant for chemistry, changed the purpose of the building in the garden. As soon as Atterson got inside, he was seized by a strange painful feeling that all grew as he walked through the anatomical theater to Jekyll’s office. The pale and exhausted doctor assured Atterson that he had renounced Hyde forever. Jekyll gave the notary a letter in which Hyde called the doctor his benefactor and said that he had found a safe haven and would not bother anyone else. Atterson experienced some relief. When leaving, he asked Poole what the messenger who brought the letter looked like. Poole vigorously announced that there was no messenger on that day.

Atterson decided to consult with his senior clerk, Mr. Guest, from whom he had almost no secrets. He showed Guest a Hyde letter. Guest was a great connoisseur and lover of graphology. He compared the handwritings of Hyde and Jekyll, which turned out to be exactly the same, only the inclination of the letters differed. Atterson decided that Dr. Jekyll made a fake to save the killer, and the blood froze in his veins.

As time went. A reward of several thousand pounds was awarded for the capture of Mr. Hyde, but the police could not find any of his tracks, as if he had never existed. For Dr. Jekyll, a new life began. He renewed relations with friends, led an active life, was engaged in charity work. This went on for more than two months.

On January 8, Atterson and Lennion dined at Jekyll in a close, friendly circle. On the twelfth of January, and then on the fourteenth, the door of Dr. Jekyll was closed to the notary. Poole said the doctor was not coming out and was not accepting anyone. On the sixth day, Atterson went to see Dr. Lenion and was shocked by the change in his friend. Lenon was noticeably thinner and decrepit, his death sentence was clearly read on his face, and an inescapable secret horror was visible in his eyes. Lenon told Atterson that he had suffered a great shock and would no longer recover from it. Lenion refused to talk about Jekyll, saying that this man died for him.

Upon returning home, Atterson wrote to Jekyll, asking why he refused him home, and inquiring about the reason for the break with Lenol. The next day, an answer came in which Jekyll announced that he intended to lead a secluded life. He brought upon himself terrible punishment and danger, and now he must alone bear his heavy burden.

A week later, Dr. Lenion lay down, and died two weeks later. In the evening after the funeral, Atterson locked himself in his office and took out a letter from Lenon addressed to him. «Personal. To hand over only to G. J. Atterson, and if he dies before me, burn without opening »- such was the order on the envelope. The frightened notary opened the letter, in which there was another sealed envelope on which was written: "Do not open until the death or disappearance of Dr. Henry Jekyll." Having overcome the temptation to open the envelope immediately, Atterson put him in the most secluded corner of the safe. From that day on, Atterson was no longer looking for his friend's company, confining himself to brief conversations with Poole on the doorstep of the house. Jekyll was now constantly locked in his office above the laboratory and even spent the night there. Atterson's visits gradually became increasingly rare.

One Sunday, Mr. Atterson, as usual, took a walk with Mr. Anfield. They again found themselves in a shopping street in front of Jekyll's house. Entering the courtyard, they saw that the window in the office above the laboratory was open and Dr. Jekyll was sitting in front of him, inexpressibly sad and pale. Atterson spoke to him. Suddenly, an expression of such horror and despair appeared on the doctor's face that those standing below went cold. The window slammed shut at once.

One evening after dinner, a terrified Poole suddenly appeared to Atterson to the extreme. He said that Dr. Jekyll had locked himself in his office again and had not been leaving for a week. Poole believed that some crime had happened in there. Atterson followed the butler to Jekyll's house. All the doctor’s servants, seized with panic, crowded in the hallway near the fireplace. Atterson followed Poole through a dark laboratory to the door of Jekyll's office. Poole knocked and loudly announced Atterson's visit. An annoyed voice came from behind the door and said that it was not accepting anyone. He was completely different from Dr. Jekyll's voice. Poole told Atterson that for a whole week they had been receiving from the owner only notes demanding to buy some kind of potion. The doctor received the required medicine, immediately sent it back, and demanded the same, but another company. And some time ago, Poole saw a stranger in the laboratory, who was looking for something in the boxes folded there. At the sight of the butler, he screeched like a rat, and fled. This man was very short. Poole was sure he saw Mr. Hyde.

Atterson decided that he should crack the cabinet door. He placed the Bradshaw footman near the window, armed himself with a poker, and went to the door. The silence of the night was broken only by the sound of steps in the office. The steps were easy and strange, they did not resemble the doctor’s heavy tread. Atterson loudly demanded that Jekyll open the door, threatening to crack it. An alien voice came from the office, begging for pity on him. That was the last straw. The door was immediately hacked. In the middle of the study, a man lay curled up on the floor. His body shuddered in recent convulsions. Atterson and Poole turned him over and saw the features of Edward Hyde. The notary smelled the bitter almonds and realized that the unfortunate was poisoned with potassium cyanide.

Mr. Atterson and the butler carefully searched the office and the anatomical theater, but they did not find Dr. Jekyll, dead or alive. The door to the street was locked. Atterson found a broken key near her. A large envelope was found in the office on the table, on which Atterson's name was written in the handwriting of a doctor. It contained a will in which Jekyll left everything to Mr. Atterson, a short note and a puffy bag. In the note, Jekyll said goodbye to his friend, and in the packet was his confession.

Promising Poole to return before midnight to call the police, Atterson returned home. He wanted to read without interruption two letters that contained an explanation of the secret. The first letter was opened by Dr. Lennon.

Dr. Lenion's letter

On January 9th I received a registered letter written by my friend Henry Jekyll. The contents of the letter aroused my great perplexity. In it, Jekyll asked me for two services. First, I had to immediately go to his house, break open the cabinet door, take a box of powders, a glass bottle and a thick notebook from the cabinet and take it to me. Secondly, I have to give this box to the person who will come to me at midnight. Jekyll assured that his life depended on it.

After reading this letter, I was sure that my friend was crazy. Nevertheless, I fulfilled the first request of Jekyll and began to wait for midnight. At midnight there was a faint knock on the door. I opened and saw a man of very small stature. At the sight of a policeman walking down the street, the little man jumped and scuttled into the hallway. Then I had the opportunity to consider it. I was struck by the disgusting expression on his face and the unpleasant sensation that arose in me as he approached. A suit of good fabric was hopelessly large and wide for him, but he did not look ridiculous. There was something abnormal and ugly, creepy and vile in the essence of the stranger. His clothes only reinforced this impression.

Seeing the box, he let out a sobbing sigh, full of such relief that I was petrified. He took the beaker, poured liquids into it from the bottle and added one of the powders. Then he put the beaker on the table and asked for permission to leave my house without any explanation. I did not agree to let him go just like that. Then he gulped down the contents of the mezurka. There was a short cry, and suddenly I saw that it was changing, getting bigger, higher. A minute later, in front of me stood a pale and exhausted Henry Jekyll.

My life is crushed, the dream has left me, deadly horror guards me days and nights, and I feel that my days are numbered. Even in my thoughts, I can’t turn to that abyss of the most infamous immorality that this man revealed to me with tears of remorse. I will only say one thing: the one who came to me that night was the assassin of Carew.

Comprehensive explanation of Henry Jekyll

I was born in the year 18. heir to a great fortune, and there could be no doubt that a bright future awaited me. The worst of my flaws was an impatient pursuit of pleasure. I could not reconcile these inclinations with my desire to look in the eyes of society a man worthy and respectable, so I began to hide them. Those areas of good and evil that make up the nature of man in my soul were divided much more sharply and deeply than in the souls of most people. Both sides of my nature were my true identity. In the end, I realized that a person is actually not one, but binary. This thought led me to a discovery that doomed me to death. I decided to separate my two natures.

I found that some substances can transform the human body. Finally, I ventured to put this theory to the test of practice. I made a solution and bought a significant amount of the salt I needed from a wholesale pharmaceutical company. One damn night I mixed the ingredients and drank. Immediately I felt excruciating pain and mortal horror. Then this agony suddenly stopped, and I came to my senses, as if after a serious illness. I was younger, my body was permeated with a pleasant lightness, I felt reckless carefree, bonds of duty no longer constrained me, my soul regained freedom, far from serene innocence. I became much more vicious - a slave to the evil lurking in me. Leading secretly into my bedroom, I first saw the face and figure of Edward Hyde in the mirror.

The evil to which I transferred the ability to create an independent shell was less powerful and developed than the good that I rejected. That's why Edward Hyde was shorter, younger, and slender than Henry Jekyll. Hyde's face bore a sweeping stroke of evil, which left an imprint of ugliness and decay on him. However, that was me too. Then I did the last experiment: I drank the composition again and woke up already Henry Jekyll.

That night I came to the fatal crossroads. I still loved the entertainment, but they were not too worthy. The duality of my life every day became more and more painful for me. Unable to resist the temptation, I became the slave of my invention. I rented a room for Hyde in Soho and wrote a testament that outraged you. Safe from all possible accidents, I began to benefit from my strange situation. Hyde soon turned my not-so-worthy pleasures into something monstrous. By his nature, he was an evil and criminal creature, and his conscience slept in deep sleep.

About two months before the murder of Sir Danvers, I went to bed with Henry Jekyll, and woke up with Edward Hyde. This prophesied a formidable punishment to me. Recently, Hyde's body has become taller, wider and has become stronger. I gradually lost touch with my first and best «I» and began to merge with the second, worst, part of my being. I realized that I had to choose between them once and for all. I preferred an elderly doctor, dissatisfied with life, but respected and surrounded by friends, but I did not have the willpower to remain true to my choice. Time dulled the acuteness of my anxiety, and at the time of mental weakness I again composed and drank a magic drink.

My Devil burst out with a fierce desire to do evil. Hyde committed the murder that night. Again and again, I returned to the horror of this damned evening. Everything was finally decided. Since then, Hyde was out of the question. I was even glad that circumstances helped me get rid of him. Now Haidu appears, and he will be put to justice. I decided that my future would turn into a redemption of the past. I have done a lot for others, and it brought me joy.

Soon, I again succumbed to the temptation, and, remaining myself, did not resist the temptation. This brief concession to my evil principle turned out to be the last straw that irrevocably destroyed the balance of my soul. I was sitting in a park on a bench when a cramp ran through my body. I felt lightheadedness and chills and again turned into Hyde. I began to think about how to get to the medicine, and in the end I wrote a letter to Lenion. When I became myself again, I realized that a decisive change had taken place in me. I was afraid that I would remain Hyde forever.


From that day on, I managed to maintain the appearance of Jekyll only under the influence of the drug. As soon as I fell asleep, I woke up Hyde. This doomed me to insomnia and turned into a creature exhausted by horror. Hyde seemed to gain power as Jekyll faded away. My punishment could have lasted for many more years if the supplies of salt had not started to run low. I ordered a search of all the pharmacies in London, but in vain. Apparently in the salt that I used, there was some kind of impurity, and it was this admixture that gave strength to the drug.

About a week has passed since then. I add this explanation under the action of the last powder. Henry Jekyll thinks for the last time as Henry Jekyll, and for the last time sees his face in the mirror. I hope that I can protect this letter from Hyde's monkey malice. Will Hyde die on the scaffold? It does not matter to me. The hour of my real death has already come; further does not concern me. Now I will seal my confession, and this will end my unfortunate Henry Jekyll.