This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at character. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson has very few named characters, most of whom form part of Dr Jekyll’s close social circle. With the exception of Mr Poole, Jekyll’s butler, and Mr Bradshaw, another of his servants, most of the characters are professional men. Dr Lanyon and Mr Utterson are long-time friends of Dr Jekyll and are both deeply concerned for his well-being. Mr Hyde is a mysterious character, and anyone who reads the novel without already knowing its famous plot would be surprised to discover that he is the same person as Dr Jekyll.
London appears to be a city full of strangers, despite the close friendships at the heart of the text.
Both Dr Lanyon and Mr Utterson express discomfort at the thought that they are unlikely to make new friends in their elderly years. In some ways, these men are nearly as isolated as Dr Jekyll is. Although the friends see the devastating effects of Dr Jekyll’s terrible internal struggle, they are ignorant to its cause, viewing Mr Hyde as a malign external source of distress to their old friend.
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is related through limited third-person narration. The narrator only knows whatever Mr Utterson knows, being able to report the lawyer’s thoughts without knowing what other characters think or feel. This aspect of the text increases the suspense and sense of surprise when the reader finally learns what happened to Dr Lanyon, as well as learning the precise details of the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde. How do the personal accounts at the end of the novella affect your recollection of events that you have only seen from Mr Utterson’s perspective?
When reading fiction, pay attention to how each character interacts with others, as well as noting whether characters change over time. Can you identify anyone (other than Dr Jekyll) whose behaviour is inconsistent? How would you explain, for example, the growing disease felt by Mr Utterson as he attempts to discover the cause of his old friend’s troubles and unsociability?
Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.