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Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

19. Chapter 10 – The True Hour of Death (pp. 63-70)

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through the final part of the tenth chapter of the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) Jekyll's description of "the bargain" being "unequal" and the idea of the Faustian pact; (ii) Jekyll's understanding of the universal significance of his story ("Strange as my circumstances were, the terms of this debate are as old and commonplace as man"); (iii) the echoes of Shakespeare and the Bible, especially in the line "to be tempted, however slightly, was to fall" (cf. Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, the Book of Genesis); (iv) the way in which the narrative in the final chapter oscillates between Jekyll and Hyde, reflecting Jekyll's psychological battle with Hyde; (v) the evocation of Robert Wringham (the protagonist in James Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner) in an easy-to-miss pun ("not even the nightmares that wrung me could avail to break"); (vi) the importance (once again) of the father-son relationship ("…destroying the portrait of my father"); (vii) the concept of devolution, i.e. reverse evolution, the transformation from man to ape; and (viii) the ending 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

APA style

McRae, J. (2020, October 22). Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Chapter 10 – The True Hour of Death (pp. 63-70) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Chapter 10 – The True Hour of Death (pp. 63-70)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Oct 2020,