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14. Chapter 8 – The Last Night (pp. 37-47)
About this Lecture
In this module, we read through the eighth chapter of the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) the idea of ‘foul play’ and the faint echoes of Hamlet at this point in the novel; (ii) the touch of domesticity with all of Jekyll’s servants gathered in the house at once; (iii) the influence of Gothic literature in the description of the dark, winding corridors that lead to the doctor’s private rooms; (iv) the different aspects of Jekyll’s transformation into Hyde – first it was his handwriting, now it is his voice; (v) the realistic nature of Jekyll’s withdrawal symptoms; (vi) the significance of Utterson once again getting it wrong – he thinks Dr Jekyll is merely unwell; (v) the difference in size and stature between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the sense that Mr Hyde gets continually smaller as we move through the novel; (vi) the significance of the reference to Mr Hyde as ‘it’ – a faint allusion, perhaps, to the creature in Frankenstein; (vii) the importance of keys; (viii) the fact that it is Mr Utterson, the lawyer, who ends up with all the money when all the dust has settled – a joke, perhaps?; and (ix) the importance, once again, of letters – two of which will form the final two chapters of the novel.
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 8 – The Last Night (pp. 37-47) [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/stevenson-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-mcrae/chapter-8-the-last-night-pp-37-47
McRae, J. "Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Chapter 8 – The Last Night (pp. 37-47)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Oct 2020, https://massolit.io/courses/stevenson-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-mcrae/chapter-8-the-last-night-pp-37-47