Posted in Reading, Teaching

ENG 242: From Wonderland to London Labyrinth

As I reread the last chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, John Tenniel’s illustration of the cards “flutter[ing] down” on Alice reminded me of my earliest memories of Robert Louis Stephenson. He was part of my childhood not only as the man behind A Child’s Garden of Verses but also as one of the faces that stared out from the cards in my hand when my sister, my cousins, and I played the game of Authors.

Writing of Stevenson as a children’s author, the Scottish novelist Margot Livesey notes:

That I and so many others came to his work so young has made us consider him a children’s author from whom we have little to learn as adults. This opinion is one that his contemporaries would not have shared, either in his particular case or as a general rule. Victorian adults felt free to embrace so-called children’s books without apology. Stevenson’s father often reread The Parent’s Assistanta volume of children’s stories, and Virginia Woolf records being taken to Peter Pan on her twenty-third birthday with no signs that this was a childish treat.

Though Stevenson’s first commercial successes were two of his books for children—Treasure Island and A Child’s Garden of VersesThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde marks a major departure from the realm of childhood, a journey into what Livesey calls “[t]he labyrinthine streets through which we pursue Hyde.”

Writing of the experience of reading Stevenson’s Gothic tale, Livesey observes that

[s]lowly but inexorably we are being led into a strange country, where the relationship between Jekyll’s prim white hand and Hyde’s orgiastic hairy paw will be revealed. The two are not merely opposites, or alter egos. In [novelist Vladimir] Nabokov’s helpful analogy Hyde is a precipitate of Jekyll. We might also think of him as Jekyll’s son.

That idea of Hyde as Jekyll’s son inspired the first option for this week’s assignment.

Option One:

Henry Jekyll’s scientific ambition and its monstrous product, Edward Hyde, link Stevenson’s novella to one of its Gothic precursors, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Do the similarities between Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll seem more apparent in Dr. Hastie Lanyon’s accounts of Henry Jekyll, or in Jekyll’s own “Full Statement of the Case”? Why?

Option Two:

The editor of the Victorian volume of The Norton Anthology of British Literature notes that “our familiarity with the outline of the story may not prepare us for the psychological and ethical complexity of the original” (Robson 766). What passage in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde best exemplifies that complexity?

Option Three:

In “The Double Life of Robert Louis Stevenson,” Margot Livesey names Mr. Utterson, Jekyll’s lawyer, as “the best possible witness to the horror of Hyde.” Do you think Utterson is the best character to guide readers through the story? Which other character might serve as guide, and how would that change alter the narrative?

Extra Credit:

Early in “Dr. Lanyon’s Narrative,” Robert Louis Stevenson made an error that went unnoticed by his editor. What is it?

Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.

Works Cited

Livesey, Margot. “The Double Life of Robert Louis Stevenson.” The Atlantic, , Nov. 1991, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

Robson, Catherine. Biographical Note: “Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Victorian Age. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W.W. Norton, 2018. pp. 765-66.

48 thoughts on “ENG 242: From Wonderland to London Labyrinth

  1. Honestly, it is a bit of a stretch but I do believe that Jekyll’s own “Full Statement of the case” shows a lot more “Frankenstein” in him more than Dr. Hasite. Jekyll was under the assumption of that he was doing “good” but it ended with the bad that was supposed to be “good” took over the good side and all that remains is evil.

  2. I believe that Mr. Utterson was the best character to tell the story of Jekyll and Hyde. Mr. Utterson was a well-respected man who would not risk sullying his career by telling a biased or twisted story about Jekyll and Hyde simply for entertainment. If the story was written from Jekyll’s point of view, the subjects of Jekyll and Hyde’s evil adventures would be unavoidable. Also, having Mr. Utterson tell the story instead of telling it directly from Jekyll’s point of view creates more suspense.
    The error in “Dr. Lanyon’s Narrative” relates back to Chapter 8. In chapter 8 it is seen that they attend dinner on January 8th, meaning that the letter should have arrived on January 9th, since it was noted to have arrived the day after. However, the letter is dated December 10th.

  3. In “The Double Life of Robert Louis Stevenson”, I think that Utterson was a good character to guide us through the story. I agree with Margot Livesey when she says he was the best to guide reader through the story although he is often overlook by readers.

  4. A part of the story of Jekyll and Hyde that can be considered ethically complex is when Jekyll talks about him wanting to “be rid of Mr. Hyde” (chapter 3). This can be considered ethically complex because while he is getting rid of evil, he is also getting rid of a part of himself.

    1. “Frankenstein” is a book focused on the gray area between good and bad. I believe the “Full Statement of the Case” provides a similar idea. As Ruben said Dr. Jekyl talks more of the morals between him and mr. Hyde.

  5. I believe that “Full Statement of the Case” is more similar to Frankenstein. This is because Dr. Jekyl talks more about morals the fighting between his good and his bad morals the literal embodiment being him and Mr. Hyde. In Frankenstein, the majority of the story is based on morals whether playing God was good or bad. However, in Dr. Hastie Lanyon’s accounts of Henry Jekyll, we see more of how deranged Dr. Jekyl has become.

  6. The similarities between Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll is more apparent in Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case”. In Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case” he talks about how Hyde, his evil side starts to take over and he can not control that side anymore. In Frankenstein Victor could not control his monster just like how Jekyll could not control Hyde.

  7. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde exemplifies a complexity that most people are unfamiliar with. Most people are familiar with the story and do not realize the psychological and ethical complexity that the story offers. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde states in passage 83, ¨With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two. I say two, because the state of my own knowledge does not pass beyond that point.¨ This passage shows the complexity of this story because the character is wrestling with his mind. The reader gets an inside look at the psychological state of the character.

  8. Mr. Utterson, I believe is a good character to guide readers through the story. Just like Margot Livesey said, it is his reserve of himself and his knowledge of the horror that Hyde went through that made it easy for Mr. Utterson to guide through the book. Having another character to do what Mr. Utterson did, readers may have not gotten the same experience.

  9. I agree with Breanna Bowman. I believe that Mr. Utterson was the best character to tell the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Utterson was a trustworthy man and a great lawyer. He was able to do his job well. If he was to make up a story, he would ultimately risk destroying his career. Since he is in direct contact with Dr. Jekyll, it makes the most sense for him to tell the story.

  10. I agree with Breanna Bowman. Mr.Utterson was the best choice of character to tell the story of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde. Mr. Utterson was a respected man and he did his job well. He is in contact with Dr.Jekyll so it’s best for him to tell the story.

  11. I find the similarities between Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll to be more apparent in Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case”. As Luke Noble stated, in Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case”, the account on Hyde talks about how “his evil side starts to take over and he can not control that side anymore”. I agree with what Luke said about how it is keenly similar to when Victor Frankenstein couldn’t control his monster and Jekyll not being able to control Hyde. However, I also find it eerily similar to when Victor Frankenstein let his ambitions in natural sciences get the best of him and led him to create the monster. Frankenstein essentially let his “evil side” take control of him and he could no longer control that side anymore until it was too late and he came in the realization of his mistake in creating the monster.

  12. I agree with Breanna Bowman and Ashton Canipe. I personally that Margot Livesey should name Mr. Utterson as being able to tell what really happened with Mr. Hyde. For the main point that if anyone knows what went on and the horrors he saw, he could best tell them because he was there. Mr. Utterson experienced it as a first-hand account, so no one could tell the story, that would be more credible, than his.

  13. The passage that I believe best exemplifies the psychological and ethical complexity of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is in “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case”. It is here that Dr. Jekyll gives the best commentary relating to his peculiar situation. As he notes, “With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two” (Chapter 10). This observation of his relates to the theme of the duality of man that is present throughout the story. This theme calls attention to the existence of good and evil that resides in every person and highlights the consequences that arise when one attempts to separate the two.

  14. As Margot Livesy states, In “The Double Life of Robert Louis Stevenson”, I think Mr. Utterson is the best character to guide readers throughout the book because he is usually a salient, cold, and reserve man makes for an interesting plot point when finds out the horrors of Hyde. Furthermore, a police officer investigating the case of Hyde might make an interesting guide point too, due to the fact that it might have brought a more mysterious and detective mood to the story.

  15. I think Dr. Jekyll’s ¨Full Statement of the Case¨ shows more similarities between him and Victor Frankenstein. This is mainly because both characters pretty much tried to play God in what they created, and I think Dr. Jekyll’s statement shows this more because it gives a personal account of what he was going through at the time.

  16. I believe that Mr. Utterson was the best person to guide readers through this story. Mr. Utterson worked as a lawyer, so he was used to guiding people through their legal problems. Being a lawyer also meant that he was a trustworthy and respectable man.

  17. Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case” is closely similar to that of Frankenstein. The similarities occur when Victor Frankenstein could contain his creation, while Hyde could not contain his evil side from taking over. Hyde’s other side is described by being “the evil side of my nature”(Robinson Chapter 10), which shows how he had an evil side that could not be contained.

  18. In Jekyll´s “Full Statement of the Case,” one can more clearly see the connections to Frankenstein. This is because, as Eden Austin refers to, Dr. Jekyll’s own account of the story and how the evil comes out of his mind is given. Victor Frankenstein goes through some of the same things when his monster comes to life and he can feel the guilt of creating evil. Good and evil and the balance between the two is represented in “Frankenstein” and Jekyll’s ¨Full Statement of the Case”.

  19. The similarities between Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll seems most apparent, to me, in Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case”. Both Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll had an intense curiosity and both had a vision of what they were hoping to achieve. They both were planning to conduct a series of experiments with good intentions. However, in the process of feeding into their curiosity, they each ended up creating something that caused darkness to enter into their world.

  20. For this assignment, I chose to address the third option. I feel that Mr. Utterson is the best character to guide readers through the story because he is Jekyll’s lawyer and friend. Like Madison Starnes mentions, Utterson’s profession would lead us to believe that he is a “trustworthy and respectable man.” In fact, Utterson admits this himself in saying, “I am a man to be trusted” (Stevenson ch.3). Also, he had access to important documents, such as Dr. Jekyll’s will, and one-on-one conversations with Dr. Jekyll himself and others related to the horrors of Mr. Hyde; thus, making Utterson a great guide for the story. I feel that Poole, Jekyll’s butler, could possibly serve as another character to guide the readers through the story because of his closeness with Jekyll. Poole could provide details about Jekyll’s emotions and/or actions, interactions between Jekyll and Hyde, and conversations between important characters like Mr. Utterson. Along with details witnessed in the Jekyll household, as a guide, Poole would add more suspicion and mystery to the narrative.

    Works Cited

    Starnes, Madison. Comment on “ENG 242: From Wonderland to London Labyrinth.” Jane Lucas, 27 Apr. 2020, 10:27 p.m., https://janelucas.com/2020/04/27/eng-242-from-wonderland-to-london-labyrinth/#comments. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.

    Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 1886. Project
    Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/42/pg42-images.html. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.

  21. I personally think Utterson is the best character to guide the readers. I think this because as he learns more and so does the reader aadn it creates a very good reading experience.

  22. I believe that Mr. Utterson was truly the best possible guide through the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His good-natured and yet logical personality combined with his good reputation throughout London assures the reader that what they are getting is an unbiased tale of the events that unfolded in the town.

  23. Henry Jekyll’s scientific ambition and its monstrous product, Edward Hyde, link Stevenson’s novella to one of its Gothic precursors, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.The similarities between Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll seem more apparent in Dr. Hastie Lanyon’s accounts of Henry Jekyll, or in Jekyll’s own “Full Statement of the Case”. Due to Henry Jekyll’s ambition to create something more just as Dr. Frankenstein’s ambition to conquer life they both created something that they would later regret creating at all.

  24. The story of Frankenstein can be more related to Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case” for many different reasons, the main one being that Jekyll speaks of how his other half, Mr. Hyde, is the bad part of him which he can not control. In Frankenstein, Victor plays the role of God by creating life, and ends up making something evil that he could not control.

  25. Utterson’s narration of the story of Jekyll and Hyde gives a reader access to many different sources of information, like the conversations between Utterson and his friend Enfield or Utterson’s internal realization that Jekyll wrote to Hyde a sum of money in his will. However, I think it would be very interesting to see the story narrated by multiple characters. For instance, one chapter could be in the point of view of Mr. Enfield when he sees Mr. Hyde trample the young girl, another chapter could be narrated by Dr. Jekyll when he realizes he cannot control when he “turns,” and another chapter could be in the point of view of Utterson finding Mr. Hyde to be dead in the lab.

  26. I agree with Breanna Bowman’s statement that Mr. Utterson, Jekyll’s lawyer was indeed the best witness and most fit to guide readers throughout the story. As a lawyer he must maintain a certain reputation, so he is far less likely to tell a biased story than any other character. For example, if it were written from solely Dr Jekyll’s perspective, the reader may view him with more sympathy.

  27. Mr. Utterson was the best character to narrate the story of Jekyll and Hyde. He was a well respected man and he was also trustworthy. Mr. Utterson was a lawyer which that showed alot of trust and respect. If the story was put in Jekyll’s point of view it would be filled with alot of different things than what Mr.Utterson talked about. Mr.Utterson telling the story other than telling it in Jekyll’s point of view changed on how much suspence there is for the reader.

  28. I think that the “Full Statement of the Case” is similar to Frankenstein. In Frankenstein, Victor can be seen portraying God as he createws a monster that he is unable to control. In Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case,” Jekyll talks about the bad side of Hyde and how he is not able to take control of it anymore.

  29. I think that Henry Jekyll full statement of the case is more similar to Frankenstein than the other accounts because of the way that Jekyll speaks of his own life and ambitions. The Way that Victor Frankenstein tells his own story has the same sort of format as Henry Jekyll full statement of the case. In books the main character finds themselves facing an evil the cannot control.

  30. In my opinion, the “Full Statement To The Case” is more like Frankenstein because Victor can be viewed as if he portrays God because he created a form of life. In Jekyll’s “Full Statement To The Case” Jekyll talks about how he lost control of the Hyde.

  31. I agree with Breanna Bowman, I think Utterson is trustworthy and was able to really pull together the story of Jekyll. I also agree with Kenna Sipe, in her statement of “if he was making this up, he would be destroying his career.”

  32. in the “the double life of Robert Louis Stevenson” I believe that Mr.Utterson is the best guide choice for the readers. the reason I believe that is because he is the lawyer and he knows more important things than all the other characters do.

  33. I agree with Margot Livesey’s statement that Mr. Utterson was the best person to recount Jekyll and Hyde’s story. He can give an unbiased opinion that allows the reader, from his third person point of view, to hear the story without influence from the persons involved. Had Dr. Jekyll given his account it would have only been one sided as opposed to Mr. Utterson, who views the whole picture of the story.

  34. I chose to write about option one. I believe that the similarities between Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll are more apparent in his “Full Statement of the Case.” Lanyon’s accounts of Henry Jekyll are more of a summary of the letter he received and the actions he took upon reading the letter. Jekyll’s own statement highlights his similarity to Frankenstein more elaborately. For example, Frankenstein’s motives for creating the monster was to find the secrets to life and death. Dr. Jekyll’s motives to creating the potion was to separate the good and evil because he believes man is merely two not one. The good and evil of Jekyll’s interests are an analogy to Frankenstein’s life and death. All of these things were expressed in Jekyll’s statement rather than in Lanyon’s account, henceforth, Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case” makes the similarities between him and Victor Frankenstein more apparent.

  35. As Jacob Palmer said, the similarities between Henry Jekyll and Victor Frankenstein are more apparent in the “Full Statement of the Case” because Henry Jekyll discusses how he has created a “duplicity of life” (ch. 10). Like Victor Frankenstein, Henry Jekyll said other people would have “blazoned such irregularities [he] was guilty of” (ch. 10) and that he has “hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame” (ch. 10). Henry Jekyll just feels like he has done something that he cannot take back, just like Victor Frankenstein creating the Monster. This is a better comparison than Dr. Lanyon’s accounts because he views the situation as “abnormal and misbegotten” (ch. 9).

  36. I find Jekyll’s testimony to contain more similarities to Frankenstein than Lanyon’s. Jekyll’s testimony contains a great deal of regret for the monster he has created, which is how Frankenstein feels about the creation of his monster throughout the vast majority of the novel. In Lanyon’s account, Jekyll is excited about the completion of his project, which is something that is rarely, if not never, seen from Frankenstein after he completes the monster.

  37. As Joe Robbins stated, “Full statement”, shows more of the personality of “Frankenstein”. I feel this way because Victor Frankenstein, and Jeckle both have almost an instant changing personality, however “Full statement” gives us a better understanding of it.

  38. I do not feel as if Utterson is the best character to guide readers through the story, consequently I feel Dr. Lanyon is a better option. Lanyon is knows for his good reputation, many of his characteristics can be paralleled. He is one of Jekyll’s former acquaintances, who can be noted would illuminate the mysticism within Jekyll himself.

  39. It is easier to see simialrly between Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll in Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case”. In Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case” Hyde, his evil half is starting to take over to the point where Jekyll has little to no control. In the later part of Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein could not longer command his monster just like how Jekyll could not control Hyde.

  40. I agree with Breanna Bowman’s statement that Mr. Utterson was the best fit for narrating. As Jekyll’s lawyer, he was able to tell his point of view in a conversation we would only read about in his point of view. He was known as a trustworthy man and was a “witness to horror”. He also wouldn’t have risked his career.

  41. The story of Frankenstein correlates to Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case” for a lot of reasons, the one that stands out to me is when Jekyll tells us about how Mr. Hyde is his other half and that he is the bad part. He claims to not being able to control this. Victor plays the role of God in Frankenstein which ends up making something evil that he ended up not being able to control at all.

  42. I agree with Madison Starnes and Ahira Yanez when they say Mr. Utterson was the best character to narrate the story. Mr. Utterson was a lawyer and a carrer in law usually comes with a lot of respect.

  43. I believe that Jekyll’s similar mindset is show best in his own “Full Statement of the Case”. In this statement, Jekyll talks about how he lost control of his evil side, much like how Victor lost control of his creation the Monster.

  44. In my opinion there are more similarities between Dr. Jekyll’s “Full Statement of the Case” and Frankenstein than that of Dr. Hastie Lanyon’s accounts with Henry Jekyll. In Jekyll’s case, he speaks of his morals, and the constant battle between the idea of embodiment of himself and Mr. Hyde. Frankenstein, however, constantly battles nature with his experiment, and in the end Frankenstein is run over with fear and diembarks to other places to flee from his creation.

  45. In my opinion, there are many similarities between Dr. Jekyll and Frnakstien then that of Dr. Lanyons accounts with Henry Jekyll. Jekyll speaks of his morals and the constant battle between the idea of the embodiment of himself and Mr.Hyde. Frankenstein, however, speaks on the constant battles of nature with his experiment and in the end, is run over with fear and flees from his own creation.

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