Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

How Real is Mr. Hyde?

Mr. Hyde is elusive in the fact that he is not well known by anyone, “[he] had numbered few familiars…his family could nowhere be traced; he had never been photographed”(17). By Mr. Hyde’s  unclear family history, he seems to have mysterious origins, similar to a gothic figure. In fact there is no proof of him ever existing, which makes the reader question if Mr. Hyde is even real. However, this may also be a question of sanity. The fact that there are varying accounts of Mr. Hyde is very unsettling, and makes the reader wonder if Mr. Hyde is a figment of an overactive imagination.

One thing is clear and that is his, “haunting sense of unexpressed deformity”(17). Haunting reinforces the gothic and elusive nature of Mr. Hyde. The word deformity is indicative of some sort of monstrous being, or at least some bodily incorrect aspect. There is something unspoken of Mr. Hyde’s presence that defies capture, which can be seen through the word, “unexpressed.” There is no photograph of Mr. Hyde, and from other works we have read, we know that portraits can be revealing, however there are none of Mr. Hyde. “Unexpressed” shows the inheritance of Mr. Hyde’s deformed nature, in that it is not necessarily visible but is simply there, but also that it defies description. As a result the reader knows that at the surface level there is something off about Mr. Hyde. It is beneath this facade of “unexpressed deformity, “ in which the reader will find the true Mr. Hyde.


  1. You present an interesting idea of Jekyll and Hyde being the same person, not just two separate figures who share a body. We gather only a shaky idea of how transformative the “drug” Jekyll takes is only at the very end of the novella, through a rushed explanation written by the doctor himself. Jekyll refers to feeling self-aware during his “bursts’ as Hyde, and – at least initially – enjoying his actions as a man who is chemically designed to feel no regret or guilt. Is the real horror of Jekyll and Hyde not the duality of the human soul, but rather that people are actually bad and society has demanded some “logical” sort of excuse or explanation for it? This would enable Jekyll to be his true self while putting the blame on another.

  2. This is an interesting suggestion. The idea of whether the narrator is “sane” has been a very common theme throughout the semester. We see the same idea in Dracula, how at the end it is suggested that perhaps no one will ever know if the story is true since it is only their journals narrating. Now that we have read more of Jekyll and Hyde, other people (namely the maid) have now seen Hyde so we do know that he wasn’t a figment of Utterson’s imagination, but I agree that the possibility of Hyde being an elusive figure in the beginning does lead us to question sanity.

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