“The Story of the Door”
The Story of the Door begins with a graphic portrait of Mr. Utterson, a fine gentleman and a lawyer whose mannerisms can be called rather peculiar, but typical of the Victorian epoch. Though, he was reserved and somehow boring, darling of sort of all who interacted with him as he never abandoned those whose social reputation was besmirched like other people would do in that society. His charitableness is seen when he says: “I let my brother go to the Devil in his own way”. For his bonhomie with his friends, he emerges as a loveable character. He is also described as austere and miserly when the author says that he drank gin when was alone and that, despite his love for theatre, he had not gone to any for twenty years. His friends had to be tested for a long time. It is, thus, quite strange that he, being not inclined to values, held dearly to his society in terms of respect for reputation or maintaining a gentleman’s mien. He makes a great friendship with his kinsman, Mr. Richard Enfield, who supports the dominant Victorian values, i.e. eschewing scandals and minding reputation while avoiding such habits as gossiping and idle chatter. Sometimes, these two friends are found on their Sunday stroll, making people wonder how they relate. They speak few words and share very little in common in demeanor.
With the help of these two characters, the author describes the real human nature. Sometimes, things do not meet one’s expectations and harmony is achieved in society when people are able to reconcile their conflicting characters. The fact that Mr. Enfield and Mr. Utterson look forward to their weekly excursions with eagerness means that discordant people could achieve harmony in society if tey get a common interest in coalesce around.
The theme of blackmail is introduced through the story told to Mr.Utterson by Mr. Enfield through a flashback when one day during their regular strolls, they came close to a neglected building along a busy street. This building awoke memories of one incident in Mr. Enfield. It was an early morning when he was returning home. An il-fated man emerged and crashed with a little girl coming from the opposite direction. The man trampled on her, but Mr. Enfield outran and captured him. Then people, mainly the girl’s relatives, gathered. The crowd es seethed with anger as they wanted to pounce on the ugly man. His ugly appearance provoke intense hatred. As this society valued one’s reputation, the crowd blackmailed him to ensure that his reputation was soiled, but in order to avoid that obviousness, he agreed to pay off 100 pounds. Clearly, it was a heavy price to protect reputation which the society highly regarded. One can pay anything to protect it. Strange enough that he agreed to pay money. He took Mr. Enfield and a few others to the neglected house to collect money. What puzzling is that he came out with a check which was signed by a very respectable person whom Enfield knew. The big question is what the connection between the ugly man and the reputable check drawer could be. At that point, Enfield thought the ugly man could have blackmailed the respectable man for his unknown past sins. Thanks to the detective streak in Mr. Utterson, we get to know the identity of the ugly man as Mr. Hyde, a metaphysical creature of some sort. Clearly, blackmail was a major issue in that society.
Mr. Utterson’s detective-like traits are shown when he cunningly quuizzed Mr.Ensfield, as he narrated his tale and managed to extract many details to draw his conclusion even when it was clear that Mr. Enfield was mean with details and did not want to gossip. We realize that Mr. Utterson was interested in getting the finer details of the story as the house owner was a person known to Mr.Utterson who then wanted to confirm some details. The running theme of discrepancy existence in society was brought by the author again when we are presented with two characters: Mr. Hyde and the person who signed the check. These two are quite different. Mr.Hyde is damnable while the later is ‘good’, ‘very pink of the propriety’. How could they be associated? There could be the only reason which is blackmail. Mr. Enfield called the house with the door “Blackmail House”.
The house is vividly described, but it looks like a mysterious place. The man who also trampled on the child was strange. This in a way captures the strangeness of the whole episode. In Mr. Enfield’s words, the man is detestable, must be deformed somewhere, yet no one can describe him. This could be interpreted as a symbol of the wider society indictment. Blackmail could be an example of deformation. The Victorian mannerism of minding one’s business comes out clearly when at the end, the two characters – Mr. Enfield and Mr. Utterson – agree not to talk again about the whole story.
In conclusion, this chapter manages to bring out the rational character of Mr. Utterson by presenting two dominant characters trying to unmask what seems mysterious through logic and common sense. It seems that the author suggests that those are the key values that society should be driven by.
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