Nearing the very end of the book, Jekyll proves that Hyde has taken his ability to control his personalities, which has been washed away, thus brings an unhappy end to his life. ‘… Half an hour from now, when I shall again and forever reindue that hated personality… ‘ – Jekyll fears that not long after writing his statement, he will once again turn into his monstrous dark side and ‘pace up and down’ in his ‘last refuge’.Order now
These words of Jekyll show that he has already locked himself away from the world, and that his last place of safety is where he sits now, not wanting to show his face just in case of transforming unexpectedly, that his obsession and desire has been taken too far. However, when Jekyll eventually changes into Hyde, Poole (Jekyll’s butler) and Utterson manage to break down the door to Jekyll’s laboratory, after hearing a voice they cannot identify (‘”Utterson”, said the voice, “for God’s sake, have mercy”‘) they find Jekyll to be nowhere.
Instead, they find Hyde twitching on the floor, various articles, chemicals, a cheval glass and a strange drug. Utterson also finds Jekyll’s latest will and learns that he has left the house in Utterson’s hands. All of the events in this chapter: ‘The Last Night’, is somewhat confusing for the first time reader. There are so many things that need to be understood, and only then can it be grasped what has actually happened i. e. Hyde being found on the floor, Jekyll’s sudden disappearance, and Jekyll’s will.
Poole comes to the conclusion that ‘… he must be buried here’, while Utterson believes that Jekyll ‘… may have fled’- both of these possibilities making the truth even more of a mystery to the reader. I believe it is only until the later chapters (‘ Dr Lanyon’s Narrative’ and ‘Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case’), that the reader will if not fully, then partially understand what as happened, as he/she may or may not have grasped that chapter 8 is just a mirror image of chapter 10.
Both of these chapters tell the same part of the story, only just from a different perspective, so it could be said there is duality to be found in the plot, ranging from Poole’s and Utterson’s understanding (chapter 8) to Jekyll’s (chapter 10). Stevenson’s work throughout the novel is tremendously clever and well written, and I believe that he does meet his goal in portraying the duality of human nature. There are so many elements in the story that agree with the idea of a double i. e. both Jekyll and Hyde’s different appearances, their ways of life and how they are in fact, complete opposites.
Stevenson shows this in exquisite detail by expressing himself in such a way that a clear picture is built up in the reader’s mind, which gradually builds up as more and more of the tale is revealed. There is perhaps one weakness in the novel that becomes present mainly in the second part i. e. from chapter 5 onwards. This is the confusing timeline of the story, as sometimes events don’t run chronologically, and has to be read carefully to understand the full message that is being brought across.
It could be said however, that this only concerns the first-time reader, and when read a number of times, and only when read a number of times, will the novel will be fully valued to its full degree. It is the sort of book that can be picked up and read many times, as the whole novel has brought with it a classic, timeless feel; an essence within itself. This is the reason why ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ will never grow old, and be respected just as much now as what it was nearly 150 years ago.