Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde By Robert Louis Stevenson Summary and Analysis Chapter 3 - Dr. Jekyll was Quite at Ease

Summary

Two weeks later, Dr. Jekyll gives a small dinner party, for which, we gather, he is well known, for the narrator refers to it as being "one of his pleasant dinners." Five or six of Dr. Jekyll's old cronies are invited, and among them is Mr. Utterson. As usual, the food is superb, the wine good, and Utterson manages to be the last guest to leave.

Utterson has often been one of the last guests to leave Jekyll's dinner parties, so Jekyll thinks nothing of Utterson's lingering behind. In fact, Jekyll is pleased, for he likes Utterson very much. Often, after his guests have departed, he and Utterson have sat and talked together, quietly relaxing after the noisy chatter of the dinner party.

Tonight, as they sit beside a crackling fire, Jekyll, a large man of perhaps fifty, warmly smiles at Utterson, and the lawyer answers Jekyll's smile with a question. He asks Jekyll about his will.

At this point, the narrator speaks to us directly; he says that "a close observer" might have detected that the topic was "distasteful" to Jekyll, but that Jekyll very carefully controlled his reactions to Utterson's question. Assuming a feigned, light-hearted and rather condescending tone, Jekyll chides Utterson for being so concerned about the will. He compares Utterson's anxiety to Dr. Lanyon's "hide-bound" stuffiness. Now, we realize that Dr. Lanyon did not reveal to Utterson his real reason for being so disappointed in Jekyll. Jekyll, however, unknowingly reveals more to us — and to Utterson — about Dr. Lanyon's distaste for Jekyll's scientific interests, interests which Dr. Lanyon told Jekyll were "scientific heresies."

Jekyll says that he still likes Lanyon, but that as a scientist, Dr. Lanyon is limited — too old-fashioned and conservative, too much of a "hide-bound pedant." Then Jekyll becomes more emotional. Dr. Lanyon, he says, is "an ignorant, blatant pedant. I was never more disappointed in any man than Lanyon."

Utterson, however, is firm about the subject at hand. He returns to the original subject of Dr. Jekyll's will. He says again that he strongly disapproves of the terms of Jekyll's will. In answer, Jekyll says that he knows that Utterson disapproves of the will. Utterson will not drop the subject. He tells Jekyll that he disapproves of the will more strongly now than ever because of some new information that he has concerning Edward Hyde.

When Jekyll hears the name of Hyde, the narrator tells us, "the large, handsome face of Dr. Jekyll" grows pale. Jekyll says that he wants to hear no more. But Utterson insists: "What I heard was abominable."

Jekyll becomes confused; he stammers. Concerning Hyde, Jekyll says that Utterson will never understand. His relationship with Hyde is "painful . . . a very strange one." Jekyll says that his relationship with Hyde is "one of those affairs that cannot be mended by talking."

Utterson pleads with his old friend to "make a clean breast"; he will keep everything confidential. He promises that, if he can, he will get Jekyll out of this "painful relationship." But Jekyll's mind is resolute. He says that he knows Utterson means well, and that of all his friends, he would trust Utterson to help him most, but that "it is not so bad as that." He says that he can, at any moment he chooses, "be rid of Hyde." He profusely thanks Utterson for his concern, and then asks him to look on the subject as a private matter and "let it sleep."

Utterson is silent; he gazes into the fire, then gets to his feet. Jekyll says that he hopes that the two of them will never talk about "poor Hyde" again. He says that he has "a very great interest in Hyde," and that if he is "taken away," he wants Utterson to promise him that Hyde will get everything entitled to him in Jekyll's will.

Utterson is blunt; he is sure that he can never like Hyde. Jekyll says that he doesn't ask Utterson to like Hyde; he merely asks Utterson to promise that he will give Hyde, as beneficiary, all of Jekyll's estate:

"I only ask for justice . . . when I am no longer here." Heaving a sigh, Utterson agrees: "I promise."

Analysis

This Chapter presents another side of Utterson; for example, we discover that "where Utterson was liked, he was well liked. Hosts loved to detain the dry lawyer." This quality in Utterson, therefore, allows him to linger after Jekyll's party so as to be able to discuss Jekyll's will with him.

And thus, for the first time in the novel, we meet the other character in the novel's title. And the most immediately noticeable thing about him is that he is an extremely handsome man. This, of course, contrasts with the other part of himself — that is, Hyde, who is extremely loathsome. Also, Jekyll is a well proportioned, large man, as contrasted to the dwarfish Hyde. Symbolically, then, Hyde, the evil part of Dr. Jekyll, represents only a small portion of the total makeup of Dr. Jekyll. Also, Hyde is much younger than Jekyll, suggesting that the evil portion of Jekyll has not existed as long as has the "total" Dr. Jekyll, and later in Jekyll's "confession," he does speak of his youthful indiscretions, which occurred probably in, or around, his twenties.

The contrast between Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon was presented in the last Chapter by Dr. Lanyon, who thought that Jekyll was "too fanciful" or too metaphysical, and he, therefore, rejected Dr. Jekyll's theories. Now we see that Dr. Jekyll views Lanyon as "a hidebound pedant" who is too distressed to investigate new and startling concepts. Ultimately, Dr. Jekyll refers to Lanyon as "an ignorant, blatant pedant."

When the two men discuss Dr. Jekyll's will, Utterson feels a professional obligation to advise his friend to change his will. In fact, Utterson tries to get Jekyll to confess what horrible sin or crime aligns him with this "abominable" Mr. Hyde: "Make a clean breast of this in confidence; and I make no doubt I can get you out of it." When Utterson confesses that he can never "like" this abominable man, Jekyll is also aware of this: "I don't ask that . . . I only ask for justice; I only ask you to help him for my sake, when I am no longer here." The irony, of course, is that while Utterson is so adamantly opposed to Hyde, he does not know that he is attacking a part of Jekyll to Jekyll's face.

This Chapter occurs early in the Jekyll/Hyde relationship, and Jekyll is able to assure Utterson that "the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde. I give you my hand upon that." But it is Jekyll's choice to keep Hyde around — for awhile. Originally, the ultimate aim of Dr. Jekyll's experiment was to discover his evil nature and isolate or reject it. But he became fascinated with this evil side of his nature. And as we will later see, Jekyll will reach a point where he can't control Hyde, who will begin to appear unexpectedly and begin to rule Jekyll's life.

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