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Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

8. Chapter 3 – At Ease (pp. 19-20)

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through the third chapter of the novel, ‘Dr Jekyll was Quite at Ease’, focusing in particular on: (i) the title of the chapter, and the sudden change in mood from the tension at the end of the previous chapter (“It turns me cold to think of this creature”); (ii) the contrast between characters agreeing not to talk about Hyde … and then continuing to talk about him, cf. Utterson to Enfield in Ch. 1, “Let us make a bargain never to refer to this again”; (iii) the strength of the word ‘abominable’; (iv) the theme of coherency and incoherency, both in terms of character and plot; and (v) the hollowness of Dr Jekyll’s claim that he can be rid of Hyde any time he wants (“the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde”).


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 3 – At Ease (pp. 19-20) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Chapter 3 – At Ease (pp. 19-20)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Oct 2020,