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5. Chapter 1 – Story of the Door (pp. 7-10)
About this Lecture
In this module, we go through the last part of the first chapter of the novel, in which Mr Enfield tells ‘the story of the door’. In particular, we think about: (i) the ‘character’ of house; (ii) our first experience of Mr Hyde; (iii) the theme of characters ‘knowing’ what other characters are thinking; (iv) the way Mr Hyde looks; (v) the contrast between (a) how Mr Hyde looks and acts and how rich he is; and (b) the shabbiness of the house that Mr Hyde enters and the amount of money he hands over; (vi) the theme of blackmail in the Victorian novel – secrets from the past that must be hushed up; (vii) the presence of dark and mysterious houses in Victorian novels; (viii) the difficulty of pinning Mr Hyde down, the contrast between his loathsome features and the difficulty of actually describing him (“He’s an extra-ordinary looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way”); (ix) the importance of keys in the novel; (x) the novel’s precise timeframe (“I have been pedantically exact … I saw him use it not a week ago”); and (xi) the contrast between silence and telling, secrets and stories.
In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. In the first two modules, we provide a broad introduction to the social, historical, cultural context of the novel, focusing in particular on Stevenson’s life and career, his literary and cultural influences, and his own influence on later writers. In the seventeen modules that follow, we read through the novel chapter-by-chapter, providing close reading and analysis, including commentary on themes and motifs, the structure of the novel, its multiple narrators and narratives, significant objects (keys, doors, hands, mirrors, etc.), literary influences (Shakespeare, Marlowe, James Hogg, etc.), intellectual influences (Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud), important elements from Stevenson’s own life – and much, much more.
Note: Page numbers in these lectures refers to the Penguin Classics edition of the novel (‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror’, ed. Robert Mighall). Students using a different version of the novel may encounter slight differences in page numbering.
John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.
Cite this Lecture
McRae, J. (2020, October 22). Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Chapter 1 – Story of the Door (pp. 7-10) [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/stevenson-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-mcrae/chapter-1-story-of-the-door-pp-7-10
McRae, J. "Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Chapter 1 – Story of the Door (pp. 7-10)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Oct 2020, https://massolit.io/courses/stevenson-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-mcrae/chapter-1-story-of-the-door-pp-7-10