“Cover her Face” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”

P. D. James wrote ‘Cover Her Face’, a crime novel that was first published in 1962. The book details Adam Dalgliesh’s investigations into the death of a young woman, James’ poetry-writing detective.The victim, Sally Jupp works at Maxie’s house and apparently the eldest son has feelings for her. After announcing the engagement, Sally is killed. The announcement the engagement gave people in the house a motive to kill her. The author takes the reader through the investigation process of the mysterious death. The novel connects with the ideas in “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde” written by Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish author, published in 1886. Through an inquisitive lawyer, Mr Gabriel Utterson, the reader is taken through the investigation process of Mr Hyde and Dr. Jekyll. “Cover her Face” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde” are connected by their themes and story structure.

Both James’s “Cover her Face” and Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” focus on discovering mysterious events. The authors have achieved this by structuring their stories into two parts, the first section that focuses on the mystery event and the second part that focuses on revealing the mystery. The first part of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde” focuses on the peculiar relationship between Mr Hyde and Dr. Jekyll. In this part, Mr Utterson investigates the strange relationship between the two characters. The reader is taken through the process of putting pieces together with a purpose of discovering the truth. The second part involves revealing of the mystery. The letters by Lanyon and Jekyll retells the events that happened which helps in revealing the mystery. This structure maintains suspense throughout the story and helps to answer any questions a reader may raise. In a similar manner, James’s book ‘Cover Her Face’ takes the structure where the author starts by presenting a mystery and in part two the mystery is resolved. The story starts with a presentation of various events that leads to the mysterious death of Sally a night after revealing her proposal to Stephen, Maxie’s eldest son. The reader is taken through the investigation of the mysterious death by Dalgliesh, the detective. The last part of the story focuses on revealing of the mystery where Mrs Eleanor confesses to the murder. Both stories use backward reasoning to in the investigation process enabling them to reveal the mysteries.

Both stories share some common themes. The first is on lies and deceit. Throughout the story, Stevenson presents deception and secrecy. For instance, the relationship between Mr Hyde and Dr Jekyll is hidden. The omission of the scenes where Mr Hyde was taking the serum to undergo the transformations leaves the reader with wild imaginations. Similarly, James’ work is full of lies and deceit. Sally keeps secrets of being married. The narrator says, ‘Mrs Maxie had employed unmarried mother’ (3). Miss Liddell says, ‘Sally has been obstinate and won’t tell the father’ (13). These quotes show that Sally kept secrets. Maxie deceives Martha that he takes his tablets yet he hides them under the bed. Martha secretly drugs Sally to have her dismissed after being discredited. Eleanor also secretly kills Sally. Both stories demonstrate the wickedness of the world through the theme of lies and deceit.

Another theme is curiosity. Stevenson’s characters seek to understand Mr Hyde and Dr Jekyll because of curiosity. The curiosity is also transferred to the readers who seek to understand the mystery together with Utterson. For instance, Mr Utterson curiosity on the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde drives him to conduct an investigation including questioning Jekyll. Mr Poole is also curious to know more about Jekyll. Similarly, in James work, people in Maxie’s house were curious to know who had killed Sally leading to the investigation of the event. The story arouses curiosity with the murder as the reader is confused as to whether the murder is related to the investigations in London or related to her engagement to Stephen.

Good and evil is another theme connecting the two stories. According to Jekyll’s letter to Utterson, he was becoming evil and he feared that people would discover and therefore resulted to transform to Hyde to prevent discovery. While Jekyll was good, Hyde was evil. Stevenson (74) says “severed in those provinces of good and evil that divide and compound the dual nature of man”. This shows how human struggle with good and evil personality. This theme shows how human lives with the good and bad personality. James also incorporates the theme into her story. For instance, on one side Martha is presented as a good devoted servant while on the other side she is presented as evil when she drugs Sally with intention of having her dismissed. Sally is also presented as a good servant who is an unmarried mother while on the other side she is presented as a liar who uses her brain to get what she wants.

In both stories it is through the lead investigators that that the main perspectives are revealed. Stevenson uses Mr Utterson a fair minded character to reveal the mystery. Through the unbiased perspective, Utterson helps in unfolding the complicate events. He shows concern when he realizes that Jekyll changed his will by making Hyde the sole beneficiary. His concern for Jekyll and Hyde makes Lanyon leave him a letter which helps in revealing the mystery. Because of his objective opinion, Jekyll also leaves him a letter that explains the events that helped reveal the mystery. In a similar manner, Galgliesh who is a chief superintendent takes an unbiased approach to the investigation process. He suspects every character in the house and used elimination method by revealing the movements of every character on the night of murder which led to Eleanor confession to Sally’s murder. Through the unbiased approaches of Utterson and Galgliesh, the reader is able to understand the truth behind the mysterious happenings.

Although “Cover her Face” and “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” differ on the choice of tone, setting, and on many other literary elements, they share a connection on themes and structure. Both novels have a similar structure which involves creating a suspense and then revealing the mystery. They share some themes such as curiosity, good and evil, and lies and deceit. The themes are clearly presented in the two novels. In both novels, the investigators perspective which is bias-free takes the reader through the process of discovering the truth. These connections are important because they indicate that the novels belong to a group of writers who believe in the power of fiction in driving the message to the target population.

Work cited

James. P. D. Cover Her Face: An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery. Touchstone; 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction. Ed. 2012.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Famous Tales. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1961. Print.