Gabriel John Utterson
Gabriel John Utterson was a close friend of Henry Jekyll as well as his lawyer. He was distressed when Jekyll named Edward Hyde his beneficiary in his will, as Hyde was a troublemaker and Utterson couldn't understand what Dr. Jekyll saw in him, especially after he learned of an incident in which Hyde trampled a child. He became convinced that Hyde was blackmailing Jekyll and sought to persuade his friend to change the will.
When Utterson's client Sir Danvers Carew was murdered, Utterson, inspecting the murder weapon, recognized it as Hyde's cane. Together with Inspector Newcomen, Utterson hunted for Hyde but could not find him. Confronting Jekyll, Utterson was put at ease when the doctor promised to have no more to do with Hyde, even showing the lawyer a handwritten note from Hyde promising to leave London and never return.
Utterson later learned that Hyde's handwriting was identical to Jekyll's, only slanted differently. He became convinced Jekyll had forged it and was protecting Hyde.
Later, Jekyll's butler Poole came to Utterson to inform the lawyer of grave happenings at the Jekyll residence. Dr. Jekyll had locked himself in his study and would not come out. The butler as convinced that Hyde had murdered his master and now occupied the room. Utterson returned to the house with Poole, who battered down the study door with an axe. There the two discovered Edward Hyde, dead by his own hands.
Finding no sign of Jekyll's body, Utterson set about reading a series of letters written to him by Jekyll, as well as one by the late Dr. Lanyon. From these, Utterson learned the shocking truth: Jekyll was Hyde! The two men were the same person, Jekyll's experiments to separate his evil self only resulting in the one body transforming, thus creating Edward Hyde.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1986)
Utterson's role is much the same as in the novel. He is aware of Jekyll's experiments from the beginning although he does not believe it is possible to separate man's two halves. However, he is far more supportive of Jekyll than their small-minded mutual colleague Dr. Lanyon.
He suspects Hyde of blackmailing Jekyll and learns of the man's many atrocities through his cousin Richard Enfield. When Poole comes to him thinking Hyde has murdered Jekyll and secreted himself in the doctor's study, he and Poole break down the door to discover Hyde sitting dead at Jekyll's desk, having poisoned himself.
They learn the truth from Jekyll's papers and Utterson also discovers that Jekyll has left his entire fortune and estate to his childhood friend and lawyer. Sometime later, Utterson, along with Poole and the rest of Jekyll's servants, attend Edward Hyde's funeral, after which they make a mutual agreement never to reveal that Jekyll was Hyde, so as not to besmirch the doctor's good name.
- Despite the title, Utterson is the main character of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (or at least its reader identification figure), with the title characters playing supporting roles in a mystery story told entirely from Utterson's perspective.
- Curiously, despite this Utterson is either omitted entirely from film and stage adaptations of the novel or else his role is diminished, usually filled by the character of Dr. Lanyon, as in the 1931 film described above.
- Notable exceptions to this include the loose adaptation I, Monster in which Jekyll and Hyde's names are inexplicably changed to Blake and Marlowe, and Utterson's first name is changed to Frederick. Here, Utterson, despite the changed names, serves at the main heroic character of the story and is even Hyde/Blake's undoer at the film's climax.