Teaching Students About The Importance of Dr. Jekyll’s First Name


Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” has captivated readers and students for generations. As teachers, our goal is to engage students in the study of literature, which often means diving deeper into characters and themes. An interesting aspect that sometimes goes unexplored is the significance of a character’s first name. In this article, we will discuss the importance of teaching students about Dr. Jekyll’s first name and how it can enrich their understanding of the story.

Dr. Jekyll’s First Name: Henry

Despite being known by his title and last name throughout most of the novella, Dr. Jekyll’s first name is actually Henry. This seemingly trivial piece of information holds significant value when we consider it within its historical and literary context.

The Significance of “Henry”

1. Connection to historical figures:

Dr. Henry Jekyll shares his first name with famous individuals who wielded power in their respective times, such as King Henry VIII of England and the scientist Sir Isaac Newton (middle name: Henry). By naming him Henry, Stevenson may be drawing parallels between Dr. Jekyll and those influential figures, showing that like them, he has a significant impact on society.

2. Exploration of duality and human nature:

The name “Henry” may also symbolize two sides of a personality – one that is respectable and controlled (Dr. Jekyll) and the other that is wild, dark, and dangerous (Mr. Hyde). Connecting this duality to the character’s name encourages students to think deeply about themes such as human nature and the struggle between good and evil.

Teaching Strategies

1. Engage in discussion:

To promote a deeper understanding of the character’s role in the story, facilitate a classroom discussion about why Stevenson might have chosen the name “Henry” for Dr. Jekyll. Encourage students to brainstorm, share ideas, and make connections to historical figures or themes.

2. Character analysis:

After discussing the importance of Dr. Jekyll’s first name, ask students to analyze how this newfound knowledge contributes to our understanding of his personality traits, motives, and actions.

3. Creative writing:

Instruct students to write a short story involving a character with two opposing traits that are reflected in the names they go by – one being their first name and the other their last name. This exercise will help reinforce the concept of duality and allow students to explore themes similar to those presented in the novella.


Understanding the significance of Dr. Jekyll’s first name can provide an enriching experience for students as they study this literary classic. By incorporating this focus into lesson plans and incorporating engaging activities, teachers can foster deeper connections to characters and themes, ultimately enhancing students’ comprehension and enjoyment of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

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