For the characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, maintaining one’s reputation emerges as a vital activity. The prevalence of this system of self-worth is evident in the way that upright men such as Utterson and Enfield avoid gossip at all costs; they see gossip as a great demolisher of reputation. Similarly, when Utterson suspects Jekyll first of being blackmailed and then of sheltering Hyde from the police, he does not make his suspicions known; part of being Jekyll’s good friend is a disinclination to relinquish his secrets and not ruin his reverence. The importance of reputation in the novel also reflects the importance of appearances, facades, and surfaces, which often hide a sordid underside. In many instances in the novel, Utterson, true to his Victorian society, adamantly wishes not only to preserve Jekyll’s reputation but also to preserve the appearance of order and decorum, even as he senses a vile, unfortunate truth lurking, covertly, underneath.
The text repeatedly depicted Hyde as a creature of great evil and countless vices. Although the reader learned the details of only two of Hyde’s crimes, the nature of both underlined his depravity. Both involved violence directed against innocents in particular. In the first instance, the victim of Hyde’s violence is a small, female child whom he had trampled; in the second instance, it is a gentle and much-beloved old man. The fact that Hyde injured a girl and ruthlessly murders a man, neither of which has done anything to provoke his rage or to deserve death, emphasizes the extreme immorality of Jekyll’s dark side unleashed. Hyde’s brand of evil constitutes not just a lapse from good but an outright attack on it.
According to the indefinite remarks made by his overwhelmed observers, Hyde will appear repulsively ugly and deformed, small, shrunken, and hairy. His physical ugliness and deformity will indicate his moral hideousness and warped ethics. Indeed, for the audience of Stevenson’s time, the connection between such ugliness and Hyde’s wickedness would have been seen as more than symbolic. Many people believed in the science of physiognomy, which will hold that one could identify a criminal by physical appearance. Additionally, Hyde’s small stature may represent the fact that, as Jekyll’s dark side, he has will have been repressed for years, prevented from growing and flourishing. His hairiness may indicate that he is not so much an evil side of Jekyll as the embodiment of Jekyll’s instincts, the animalistic core beneath Jekyll’s polished exterior.