Fog in Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde: Symbolism, Analysis & Quotes

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  • 0:04 Fog and Growing Suspicions
  • 0:53 Struggle Between Good and Evil
  • 2:29 Fog as Confusion and Blindness
  • 3:19 Fog as the Downfall of Jekyll
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Celeste Bright

Celeste has taught college English for four years and holds a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature.

Fog is a curious phenomenon in 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.' We'll analyze quotes about fog in Robert Louis Stevenson's chilling novella and learn how they shape its symbolism.

Fog and Growing Suspicions

Have you ever felt that fog was a bad omen? A careful reading of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reveals that fog is heavily linked with the nebulous relationships between Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Utterson, and the evil Mr. Hyde.

Fog first appears in the novella at the beginning of Utterson's investigation of Hyde. We encounter this quintessentially London weather as ''Mr. Utterson began to haunt [Hyde's] door... in the morning before office hours, at noon when business was plenty, and time scarce, at night under the face of the fogged city moon.'' In this instance, fog isn't a particularly dominant feature, yet the fog can be understood as representing Utterson's suspicion, though not much more. However, it becomes more prevalent as evidence begins to stack up against Hyde.

An image of the criminal Hyde stalking through a fog
Hydes foggy character

Struggle Between Good and Evil

After identifying Carew's body and recognizing the murder weapon as Jekyll's stolen walking stick, Utterson brings a police officer to Hyde's house to search for more evidence. They take a cab through ''the first fog of the season,'' which Stevenson describes as ''a great chocolate-colored pall lowered over heaven'' with ''the wind... continually charging and routing these embattled vapours.'' It's quite a dramatic scene that mirrors what's going on behind the scenes.

Because we know that Jekyll struggles against the temptation to change into Hyde and eventually loses his ability to control the transformation, we can also think about fog as his internal battle against evil. From this perspective, the fog symbolizes Hyde, and Jekyll is the wind and sunlight fighting against it.

During the ride, Utterson ''beheld a marvelous number of degrees and hues of twilight; for here it would be dark like the back-end of evening; and there would be a glow of rich, lurid brown, like the light of some strange conflagration; and here, for a moment, the fog would be quite broken up, and a haggard shaft of daylight would glance in between the swirling wreaths.'' It's so dark that the street lamps are on, even though it's 9 a.m., and for Utterson, the London district of Soho is ''like a district of some city in a nightmare.''

London, Houses of Parliament. The Sun Shining through the Fog (painting by Claude Monet)
Monets foggy London

Although Utterson doesn't know it yet, Jekyll has indeed been living a nightmare, as we find out from his personal writings at the end of the novella. His struggle to defeat Hyde has made his life miserable and caused him to realize that the only way out is suicide.

A foggy double-exposure photo of Richard Mansfield and Jekyll and Hyde
Double exposure Jekyll and Hyde

Fog as Confusion and Blindness

When they arrive at Hyde's house, the fog continues to shift, and it literally alters Utterson's ability to see clearly. At first the fog ''lifted a little and showed him a dingy street,''but ''the next moment the fog settled down again upon that part, as brown as umber, and cut him off from his blackguardly surroundings.'' A blackguard is an archaic British term for a rude or untrustworthy person. Here, Utterson is about to make the important discovery that Hyde is a murderer, but he's soon baffled by Jekyll's decline in health as well.

While Jekyll endures his secret internal battle, Utterson struggles to understand what is happening to him. Each new clue seems to be accompanied by another enigma, so we can also read fog as a symbol of Utterson's confusion and blindness with regard to his friend's true nature.

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