Katrina Young: Wanted: Edwin, Dead or Alive

First publisched: katrinayoung.wordpress.com

D

ICKENS pub­lished “The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood” in seg­ments, then left this world be­fore he could do us the favor of writ­ing the sec­ond half, or at least notes on the rest of the story. A shroud of mys­tery sur­rounds the so­lu­tions Dick­ens had in mind; ample stud­ies, the­o­ries, and pro­pos­als, all dif­fer­ing on one point or many points, prove fin­ish­ing a Dick­ens mys­tery novel to be a sig­nif­i­cant un­der­tak­ing. After read­ing a col­lec­tion of mys­tery nov­els from dif­fer­ent sub-gen­res and times through­out their his­to­ry, this was my fa­vorite. It was ag­o­niz­ing to know the in­tri­cate story’s sec­ond half will never be (at least not at the cal­iber of Dick­ens’ own first half), not to men­tion the fact that the mys­tery will re­main a mys­tery. John Forster, who was close to Dick­ens and read through many of his manuscripts and proofs, wrote this about Dick­ens’ last novel, “Dis­cov­ery of the mur­der was to be baf­fled till to­wards the close, when, by means of a gold ring which had re­sist­ed the cor­ro­sive ef­fects of the lime into which he had thrown the body, not, only the per­son mur­dered was to be iden­ti­fied, but the lo­cal­i­ty of the crime and the man who com­mit­ted it....” (Gadd). With all dis­cov­ery left for the end, a sud­den close in the mid­dle leaves read­ers in an eter­nal mys­tery for which peace of mind re­quests a so­lu­tion. More mys­te­ri­ous el­e­ments are left un­cov­ered than I will at­tempt to ex­plain; how­ev­er, a few of the key mys­ter­ies in the book are worth look­ing into. The first and ob­vi­ous ques­tion is whether or not Drood was ac­tu­al­ly mur­dered, but this ques­tion must be ad­dressed last. The other ques­tions are pri­mar­i­ly peo­ple rather than events. Who is Datch­ery? Princess Puffer? How does the array of char­ac­ters come to­geth­er into a co­he­sive whole? Dur­dles, Sapsea, Hon­eythun­der, Grew­gious, Deputy, Baz­zard: all de­mand fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion.

First is the ques­tion of Datch­ery, be­cause I be­lieve the an­swer holds an im­por­tant an­swer to the big­ger ques­tion of what hap­pened to Edwin Drood. Datch­ery en­ters the story at the be­gin­ning of Chap­ter 18. He pro­claims to be a new­com­er, a set­tler, and “an idle dog who lived upon his means” and re­quests lodg­ing that is “ar­chi­tec­tural”, then specif­i­cal­ly “any­thing Cathe­draly” (202-203). After two pages, when Deputy is walk­ing him to the cathe­dral, he some­how knows the iden­ti­ty of Jasper when Deputy names him. Datch­ery im­me­di­ate­ly feels it nec­es­sary to visit Jasper to ask his ad­vice, then leaves with Sapsea, whose pompous way Datch­ery al­ready seems adept at han­dling. His thick white hair is also stressed heav­i­ly, and he strange­ly for­gets his hat off while the two men walk out­side. “All this time Mr Datch­ery had walked with his hat under his arm, and his white hair stream­ing. He had an odd mo­men­tary ap­pear­ance upon him of hav­ing for­got­ten his hat, when Mr Sapsea now touched it; and he clapped his hand up to his head as if with some vague ex­pec­ta­tion of find­ing an­oth­er hat upon it” (208). Gadd claimed that Datch­ery must have worn a wig, he was sim­ply un­ac­cus­tomed to wear­ing one and I be­lieve that to be the case. This list of de­tails, not even ex­haus­tive, sug­gests Datch­ery is some­one be­sides who he claims to be. He­le­na, Drood, and Tar­tar have all been sug­gest­ed as can­di­dates for the true iden­ti­ty, but I be­lieve it to be Tar­tar. He­le­na is a woman and al­though Dick­ens told us she used to dress up as a boy, I think that de­tail is meant for a dif­fer­ent scene and sit­u­a­tion. Drood and Tar­tar, how­ev­er, are like­ly pos­si­bil­i­ties. Gadd draws strik­ing par­al­lels be­tween Tar­tar and Datch­ery, and I agree with this opin­ion. I ini­tial­ly pinned Datch­ery as Drood while I read the book, but I used pri­mar­i­ly the ev­i­dence I al­ready placed be­fore you for that opin­ion. One must also con­sid­er that chap­ters 17 through 21 are not told chrono­log­i­cal­ly but by place, Datch­ery is de­scribed to have a mil­i­tary air and Tar­tar is a mil­i­tary man, the two men have both placed them­selves im­me­di­ate­ly near the lodg­ings of the two sus­pects in the mur­der, and the two men are never brought to­geth­er to meet. Gadd quotes two seg­ments of the story to fin­ish his ar­ti­cle of com­par­ing the two char­ac­ters. “As mariners ap­proach­ing an iron-bound coast may look along the beams of the warn­ing light to the haven lying be­yond it that may never be reached, so Mr. Datch­ery's wist­ful gaze is di­rect­ed to this bea­con, and be­yond,” and “’Rosa thought... that [Tar­tar’s] far-see­ing eyes looked as if they had been used to watch dan­ger afar off, and to watch it with­out flinch­ing, draw­ing near­er and near­er.’ The par­al­lel is com­plete” (Gadd).

Dick­ens uses the phrase, “at about this time” at the be­gin­ning of Datch­ery’s first chap­ter to avoid clar­i­fi­ca­tion. “The Tar­tar the­o­ry has had one, and only one, se­ri­ous ob­jec­tion brought against it. That ob­jec­tion is the se­quence of the chap­ters” (122), wrote Percy Cardin. He pro­jects a plau­si­ble story line but gives no rea­son for his ar­range­ment of the events: he sim­ply states them. I agree that the plot is in­ten­tion­al­ly ar­ranged out­side of time; we can see how well that sim­ple strat­e­gy main­tains the mys­ter­ies of this book, even to this day. How­ev­er, he failed to ex­plain why Datch­ery/Tar­tar would know of the mys­tery or be in­ter­est­ed in it. I will re­turn to this point later.

The con­ver­sa­tion be­tween him and Princess Puffer pro­vides fur­ther in­sight into Datch­ery’s iden­ti­ty. Datch­ery’s coun­te­nance sud­den­ly changes when Puffer men­tions opium. After that point Datch­ery fum­bles with his change, stops to re­count it, and even drops it when the woman men­tions the name Edwin and de­scribes her en­counter with him. Saun­ders, to my ex­cite­ment, ac­knowl­edged my own the­o­ry, even though he pre­ferred to be­lieve oth­er­wise. “If Datch­ery is not Edwin, he can only have heard of this meet­ing from one of two per­sons, the woman her­self or Edwin; about that there can be no ques­tion” (104). This was my opin­ion when I read this scene, and I main­tain it now. Datch­ery can be Tar­tar or Edwin him­self, but if he is Tar­tar he has spo­ken with an alive Edwin, who in­formed him of the sit­u­a­tion. Saun­ders be­lieves Datch­ery to be a lawyer and a friend of Grew­gious, through whom he learns the na­ture of the mys­tery and Jasper’s opium habit. Grew­gious is sup­posed to have learned of the habit through some un­known way. Saun­ders sup­ports his hy­poth­e­sis with Grew­gious’ state­ment in chap­ter 21, “it is a busi­ness prin­ci­ple of mine, in such a case, not to close up any di­rec­tion, but to keep an eye on every di­rec­tion that may pre­sent it­self. I could re­late an anec­dote in point, but that it would be pre­ma­ture” (231). I have to admit this state­ment in­trigued me to the point of dis­com­fort be­cause I knew I would never learn what his anec­dote would be. How­ev­er, many other di­rec­tions could be taken with this state­ment and I pre­fer the first op­tion: that Datch­ery knows about this meet­ing from Edwin. Datch­ery is wear­ing a wig, too sim­i­lar to Tar­tar for co­in­ci­dence, and Grew­gious acts to new to the sit­u­a­tion in the rest of the scene to be­lieve that he is a mas­ter­mind be­hind the op­er­a­tion. “It was by no mean ap­par­ent that Mr Grew­gious knew what he said, though it was very ap­par­ent that he meant to say some­thing high­ly friend­ly and ap­pre­cia­tive” (232) and “’I don’t wish to be com­pli­ment­ed upon it, I thank you, but I think I have an idea,’ Mr Grew­gious an­nounced, after tak­ing a jog-trot or two across the room, so un­ex­pect­ed and un­ac­count­able that they had all stared at him, doubt­ful whether he was chok­ing or had the cramp” (233). This is not the way a man would act if he had planned the com­ing of Datch­ery, who we be­lieve to also be Tar­tar.

Edwin must have lived, then, which was my hy­poth­e­sis from the start. I looked at Dick­ens’s ideas for ti­tles and de­cid­ed too many of them cen­tered on Drood not ac­tu­al­ly being mur­dered. Loss, dis­ap­pear­ance, and flight were the words he con­sid­ered be­fore choos­ing the Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. One choice was even “Edwin Drood in hid­ing.” I only saw this mys­tery being ex­plored in the ti­tles, but in fact a sec­ond mys­tery is hid­ing in the ti­tles.

“I have a very cu­ri­ous and new idea for my new story; not a com­mu­ni­ca­ble idea (or the in­ter­est of the book would be gone) but a very strong one, though dif­fi­cult to work,” Dick­ens wrote to Forster (Saun­ders 2). Using this quote as his foun­da­tion, Saun­ders takes a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to solv­ing Dick­ens’s mys­tery. In­stead of swim­ming through the boun­ti­ful de­tails and blin­ders, he de­ter­mined Dick­ens’s pur­pose and in­tent for a lens through which to view the story. Saun­ders was not sat­is­fied that the ex­ist­ing the­o­ries sat­is­fied the words Dick­ens used to de­scribe his idea. After dis­cussing other the­o­ries and the ways they fail to be cu­ri­ous, new, not com­mu­ni­ca­ble, or dif­fi­cult to work, Saun­ders pre­sent­ed his the­o­ry: “the idea of a mur­der­er at­tempt­ing and in­tend­ing to fas­ten his crime on to an­oth­er, but in re­al­i­ty track­ing him­self, and in­vol­un­tar­i­ly putting the noose round his own neck” (7-8)! I had not orig­i­nal­ly framed the story in quite this way, but I em­brace it now. I thought Hon­eythun­der was in­volved from the start, bring­ing the Land­less sib­lings into town so Jasper could frame Neville. Jasper pounced on his first op­por­tu­ni­ty to pit the two against each other, drug them, and ig­nite sus­pi­cion in oth­ers. He re­ports the in­ci­dent im­me­di­ate­ly, keep­ing the guilt off of him­self but clear­ly es­tab­lish­ing the prob­lem be­tween the other two. The whole town knows of it think it is best if they make up, play­ing right into Jasper’s plan. Saun­ders’s ideas sup­port­ed this idea. He be­lieved that Hon­eythun­der and Jasper were both at Crisparkle’s din­ner so the char­ac­ters could be in­tro­duced nat­u­ral­ly to the read­ers with­out sus­pi­cion or at­ten­tion being drawn to their re­la­tion­ship.

This idea for a story res­onates through the other title op­tions: “Flight and pur­suit” takes on new mean­ing and “Sworn to Avenge it,” “One Ob­ject in Life,” “A Kins­man’s De­vo­tion,” and “The Two Kins­man” sud­den­ly con­vey a new com­plex­i­ty I had missed be­fore.

If Saun­ders is cor­rect, Jasper’s words are crafti­ly writ­ten al­most as prophe­cy of his own doom, and can be read lit­er­al­ly. Saun­ders men­tioned Jasper’s jour­nal en­tries and con­ver­sa­tions, my fa­vorite of which is in the gar­den scene with Japer and Rosa. “I have de­vot­ed my­self to the mur­der­er’s dis­cov­ery and de­struc­tion, be he whom he might, and that I de­ter­mined to dis­cuss the mys­tery with no one until I should hold the clue in which to en­tan­gle the mur­der­er in a net. I have since worked pa­tient­ly to wind and wind it round him; and it is slow­ly wind­ing as I speak” (Dick­ens 215-216). I love this quote be­cause it can be taken ex­act­ly as he says it. The net is wind­ing around Jasper as he speaks be­cause he is be­gin­ning a dead­ly chain of events against him­self by mak­ing Rosa afraid, then sus­pi­cious of him.

Saun­ders also po­si­tioned Sapsea and Baz­zard on Jasper’s side, work­ing to con­vict Neville but trap­ping Jasper in their web. I agree with this anal­y­sis as it was ob­vi­ous Sapsea was work­ing with Jasper, and Baz­zard was too mys­te­ri­ous and dark to not be in­clud­ed. Not only Saun­ders but also Car­den and sev­er­al oth­ers, in­clud­ing Forster him­self, be­lieve the con­clu­sion of the story is to come about by way of the ring in Edwin’s pos­ses­sion when he dis­ap­peared. Some of these the­o­rists have sug­gest­ed Baz­zard to be the tool through which Jasper learns of the ring and the con­clu­sion is set in mo­tion, in­ten­tion­al­ly or oth­er­wise. I be­lieve Jasper does learn of the ring through Baz­zard, who Dick­ens so care­ful­ly made wit­ness to the trans­fer of the ring from Grew­gious to Edwin. I also be­lieve it was in­ten­tion­al. Saun­ders sug­gests Baz­zard has a mys­tery of his own that we will never learn of or imag­ine. “Why [else] was it nec­es­sary for the read­er to be in­formed that Baz­zard’s fa­ther was a Nor­folk farmer” (145)? Dick­ens made Grew­gious seem­ing­ly aware, but yet tol­er­ant of Baz­zard’s be­hav­ior. He stops him­self from de­scrib­ing him on one oc­ca­sion and later claims Baz­zard has taken care of him. “No, I haven’t,” Baz­zard replies, but Grew­gious laughs and de­cides he must have taken care of him­self with­out being aware of it. These scenes make Grew­gious a sus­pi­cious char­ac­ter as well, but I will not ven­ture into that much depth for this paper.

Sapsea’s in­volve­ment with Jasper ex­plains the sig­nif­i­cance of the Eight Club seg­ment. Though I have no ex­pla­na­tion for the event of the Eight Club it­self, I have my own hy­poth­e­sis about the scene and how it fits into the plot. We have al­ready es­tab­lished Datch­ery as a dis­guised char­ac­ter, and a con­ve­nient place­ment of he and Tar­tar near both Jasper and Neville. Whether Tar­tar is near Neville to keep an eye on him or to pos­si­bly elic­it a help or a tes­ti­mo­ny out of him I do not know, though I sus­pect the lat­ter. Re­gard­less, mys­te­ri­ous new char­ac­ters con­ve­nient­ly place them­selves near the im­por­tant char­ac­ters and I be­lieve Sapsea to be a cru­cial char­ac­ter. He re­cent­ly buried his wife in the grave­yard, he re­cent­ly be­came mayor, and he is con­vinced of Neville’s guilt. I be­lieve the new char­ac­ter in­tro­duced as Poker to be an­oth­er dis­guise of our Tar­tar. Also, I do not be­lieve Tar­tar to be work­ing alone, es­pe­cial­ly not as time goes on. I pro­ject that he began the task alone on Edwin’s re­quest, but even­tu­al­ly draft­ed at least Crisparkle to his side, if not Grew­gious. I hes­i­tate to in­clude Grew­gious, though, be­cause I feel that it is no co­in­ci­dence he em­ploys Baz­zard and that he made cer­tain Baz­zard knew of the ring. If Dick­ens want­ed to make some­thing of this dis­guise theme, he could even make Jasper or Sapsea to be dis­guised as Baz­zard. Grew­gious cared for Rosa’s moth­er and there­fore would have a fas­ci­nat­ing con­flict of in­ter­ests, but this paper has nei­ther the space nor the scope to ex­plore this in de­tail.

Now we can con­tin­ue to the other char­ac­ters. Al­ready crit­i­cal in the story is Princess Puffer, but we have not ex­plored yet the crit­i­cal de­tails she re­veals to the story. No doubt she would have re­vealed even more had the story con­tin­ued, but al­ready in the first half she has shown us the only hon­est look, how­ev­er brief or vague, into Jasper’s psy­che. “’What vi­sions can she have?’ the wak­ing man muses… ‘Vi­sions… of an in­crease of hideous cus­tomers, and this hor­ri­ble bed­stead set up­right again, and this hor­ri­ble court swept clean? What can she rise to, under any quan­ti­ty of opium, high­er than that! – Eh?’” In the first scene Jasper dis­counts Puffer’s po­ten­tial and for that rea­son I be­lieve she will amount to more than he ex­pects. She al­ready would sur­prise him if he were aware of her role in all that hap­pened. He goes to her, un­sus­pect­ing, but we learn that she has an in­ter­est in him that rises far above that of any other hideous cus­tomer. She fol­lows him twice, the first time un­know­ing­ly warn­ing “Ned” and the sec­ond time giv­ing an im­por­tant clue or two to Datch­ery, worth a chalk mark in his cab­i­net. When he comes to her the sec­ond time for opium in her den, he gives away sig­nif­i­cant de­tails found nowhere else in the book. He dreams of killing Edwin every time he uses opium and he be­lieves he suc­ceed­ed in killing him this time, even though it failed to ful­fill him. Puffer is supreme­ly in­ter­est­ed in his tale, and is al­ready fa­mil­iar with what he is telling her about. Saun­ders as­serts that she must have a strong mo­tive to fol­low him, which he claims can only be ha­tred and de­sire for re­venge. He brings the shriek Dur­dles men­tioned from ear­li­er in the story to ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion. “The stretch of imag­i­na­tion nec­es­sary to en­able us to con­nect to­geth­er Jasper, the mid­night death shriek, and the opium woman with her strong ha­tred of him, is not a very great one, and … I … haz­ard a guess that she sus­pect­ed him strong­ly of a crime al­ready com­mit­ted in which some rel­a­tive or con­nex­ion of hers had fig­ured as the vic­tim” (115). Much to my ex­cite­ment, Saun­ders claimed that Dick­ens would not cre­ate a char­ac­ter if he or she did not hold an im­por­tant place in the story. Each must have a rea­son, a role. “I very much doubt whether Dick­ens would have brought the boy on the scene with­out con­nect­ing him close­ly with some of the prin­ci­pal per­son­ages” (117). In the case of Deputy I had no fur­ther in­volve­ment for him in my own the­o­ry, but Saun­ders used Dick­ens’s notes about a child and a boy that are never men­tioned in the story to pro­pose an in­volve­ment be­tween Deputy and the Puffer woman and Jasper. Jasper could have killed Deputy’s moth­er, a pos­si­ble re­la­tion to the Puffer woman. Jasper could have been the fa­ther. Deputy also is es­tab­lished to throw stones at Dur­dles if he is out after ten be­cause Dick­ens wants it to be nat­u­ral for Deputy to be out that late to wit­ness some­thing. We know Deputy is against Jasper by his speech to Datch­ery on their walk. Deputy re­fus­es to go near Jasper. Dick­ens could eas­i­ly use Deputy to tes­ti­fy against Jasper to con­vict him and bring out Puffer’s mo­ti­va­tion for her ha­tred.

He­le­na Land­less re­mains to be un­der­stood. Her char­ac­ter was given tremen­dous re­spect and po­ten­tial: strength, in­tel­li­gence, self-con­trol, and the abil­i­ty to dress up like a man. Crisparkle was aware that he was teach­ing her while he was teach­ing Neville, and Neville tells us of their back­ground that dis­played He­le­na’s strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion. While I doubt Dick­ens would make her dress up to be Datch­ery, she could be Poker if she was work­ing to­geth­er with Tar­tar. We know lit­tle about Poker but his char­ac­ter seems weak­er but still in­tel­li­gent and crafty than that of Datch­ery or Tar­tar. How­ev­er, Car­den pre­sents an­oth­er fas­ci­nat­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty. Wal­ters em­pha­sizes that He­le­na promised Rosa aid in chap­ter seven and he af­firms that she would keep her word. I agree, and Car­den’s ex­pla­na­tion is a plau­si­ble way for that to take place. Jasper learns of the ring and re­turns to the tomb to re­trieve it, to plant it in Neville’s be­long­ings. How­ev­er, He­le­na is aware of this (in my the­o­ry be­cause she is work­ing with Tar­tar and, in par­tic­u­lar, Poker) and de­cides the only way to con­vict Jasper in­stead of her broth­er is for Jasper to con­fess. She dress­es up as Edwin and meets him in the tomb to upset him and force the con­fes­sion. This is how Car­den’s story came to a con­clu­sion and I en­joyed it as a way to tie it up re­gard­less of Dick­ens’s in­ten­tions. This also ex­plains the il­lus­tra­tion of the two in the tomb at the bot­tom of the cover. If you look at the char­ac­ter on the left, it looks im­pres­sive­ly fem­i­nine for a man, and oth­ers be­sides Car­den have noted that.

I have cited Saun­ders sev­er­al times be­cause he sup­port­ed a ma­jor­i­ty of my the­o­ry and pre­sent­ed some ideas that I loved and added to my own ver­sion of the end­ing. How­ev­er, many oth­ers have made ex­cel­lent ar­gu­ments against what I have pre­sent­ed thus far. I want to men­tion J. Cum­ing Wal­ters in par­tic­u­lar. He pre­sent­ed his own the­o­ry to­geth­er with the work of sev­er­al other the­o­rists, or “Drood­ists,” and made a strong case. He quotes Dick­ens’s daugh­ter in sup­port of the fact that Drood must have died.

It was not upon the Mys­tery alone that [my fa­ther] re­lied for the in­ter­est and orig­i­nal­i­ty of his idea. The orig­i­nal­i­ty was to be shown, as he tells us, in what we may call the psy­cho­log­i­cal de­scrip­tion the mur­der­er gives us of his temp­ta­tions, tem­per­a­ment, and char­ac­ter, as if told by an­oth­er; and my fa­ther speaks open­ly of the ring to Mr. Forster. … I do not mean to imply that the mys­tery it­self had no strong hold on my fa­ther’s imag­i­na­tion … [but] he was quite as deeply fas­ci­nat­ed and ab­sorbed in the study of the crim­i­nal Jasper, as in the dark and sin­is­ter crime that has given the book its title. And he also speaks to Mr. Forster of the mur­der of a nephew by an uncle. He does not say that he is un­cer­tain whether he shall save the nephew, but as ev­i­dent­ly made up his mind that the crime is to be com­mit­ted (225).

He goes on to in­clude an­oth­er state­ment by fam­i­ly of Dick­ens that he would never have kept such a se­cret from Forster or led him to be­lieve some­thing he ac­tu­al­ly had no in­ten­tion of car­ry­ing out. Forster would have ad­vised him poor­ly with­out an un­der­stand­ing of what was to hap­pen. One of the the­o­rists Wal­ters de­scribes is William Archer. In his the­o­ry, Drood es­caped from Jasper’s at­tack and re­turned as Datch­ery. Drood was at­tacked while drugged and was un­sure of who his as­sailant was. Drood made con­tact with Grew­gious and they agreed to keep silent and trap Jasper at the tomb with the ring. How­ev­er Jasper killed Neville, in a rage over being con­front­ed, and was con­demned to a cell for his mur­der of Neville. With­out Neville and Grew­gious, this is my orig­i­nal the­o­ry so I was in­ter­est­ed to see what Wal­ters would say in an­swer to it. His ar­gu­ment is a good one, so I will in­clude a piece of it here. “Drood, if at­tacked, could not so eas­i­ly have es­caped from the scene; … there was no ev­i­dence he was dis­fig­ured; [and] nei­ther he nor Grew­gious could hu­man­ly and hon­ourably have kept si­lence for months when they dis­cov­ered the fur­ther plots of Jasper against Rosa and Neville” (240). Other the­o­ries and ar­gu­ments in this book are also fas­ci­nat­ing but I will limit this paper to this. My re­sponse to this par­tic­u­lar ar­gu­ment is that Datch­ery is in­stead Tar­tar, thus no need for dis­fig­ure­ment in him, and Edwin did not go to Grew­gious, al­though he could have. Edwin could be Baz­zard! But it is un­like­ly that this should be the so­lu­tion. More of a hint in this di­rec­tion prob­a­bly would have been given.

Whether or not Edwin died is not the ques­tion, though it has been ar­gued as if it was the only mys­tery in the book. The frame of the story, a mur­der­er con­vict­ing him­self un­know­ing­ly, cre­ates a clear­er vi­sion of the char­ac­ters and the drama. After con­sid­er­ing this hy­poth­e­sis and the many the­o­ries that exist about the out­come of the story, I care much less about whether or not Edwin died be­cause he is not the in­ter­est­ing part of this book. His dis­ap­pear­ance only start­ed the un­rav­el­ing of much greater things that we un­for­tu­nate­ly miss out on. I pre­fer to be­lieve Edwin lived be­cause it makes the most sense to me in how I read the book, and I would like to see Jasper con­vict him­self of a crime he didn’t even com­mit. He is guilty of some­thing else if not that, such as some­thing on the pre­vi­ous Christ­mas Eve.

Through­out the semester of read­ing mys­tery nov­els I have pre­ferred the ones that give un­ex­pect­ed end­ings and in­volve sev­er­al twists and con­nec­tions that have been hint­ed at but never es­tab­lished be­fore. Dick­ens has cre­at­ed a fan­tas­tic com­bi­na­tion of char­ac­ters and amaz­ing plot po­ten­tial. With­out an end­ing it is still my fa­vorite book of the semester. “Fire Sale” was too ob­vi­ous in the end­ing, but I thor­ough­ly en­joyed the book. Smith’s book was my least fa­vorite, even though par­al­lels could be drawn be­tween it and the Dick­ens piece. Dick­ens has an over­ar­ch­ing theme and in­serts de­tails and di­ver­sions that do not have an ob­vi­ous con­nec­tion until the end. How­ev­er, Dick­ens could have been a model to Smith be­cause it ac­com­plished his far bet­ter, even with half a story. “The Woman in White,” though was the clos­est in com­par­i­son. In ad­di­tion to being writ­ten at a sim­i­lar time and the two au­thors know­ing each other, these sto­ries are on a sim­i­lar level of com­plex­i­ty and in­trigue that I did not get from the rest. These two books drew me in bet­ter than any of the rest. “The Woman in White” did not end when we learned the iden­ti­ty of the woman in white or the mys­ter­ies that ini­tial­ly in­trigued us. I feel the same would have been true of “The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood.” Edwin’s mys­tery is only the be­gin­ning, and that’s what I love about it.

Brief Overview of My End­ing

Jasper drugged both Neville and Edwin on Christ­mas Eve, and he also in­dulged in some opium. The evening events were un­clear for them all, but Jasper re­mem­bers “killing” Edwin just like in his drug-in­duced dreams, Edwin re­mem­bers being at­tacked by some­one but he is un­sure who, and Neville re­mem­bers mak­ing amends with Edwin then leav­ing on his jour­ney. Edwin, when he re­al­izes the sig­nif­i­cance of the event, de­cides to flee to the East. We all know Edwin was never a hero of a char­ac­ter. On his way he meets Tar­tar who has de­cid­ed to set­tle down from his naval life. They spend some time to­geth­er, re­al­ize their con­nec­tion through Crisparkle, and Edwin en­trusts the mys­tery to Tar­tar. Tar­tar moves into the apart­ment next to Neville, then goes to Clois­ter­ham to keep an eye on Jasper as Datch­ery. Later on, when it is ob­vi­ous that Jasper is not work­ing alone, he also dress­es up as Poker to learn what he needs to from Sapsea.

Datch­ery is able to gain valu­able in­for­ma­tion from Puffer, who hates Jasper be­cause he mur­dered her sis­ter, Deputy’s mom, the pre­vi­ous year to keep the se­cret of his child quiet. His ul­ti­mate plan is to be with Rosa and no pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship or chil­dren can get in the way of that. Puffer has al­ready want­ed to catch Jasper in the act of mur­der­ing some­one else, so she is happy to work with Datch­ery.

Grew­gious and Baz­zard are mys­te­ri­ous char­ac­ters until the very end be­cause they jump back and forth be­tween the good and bad. Grew­gious badly wants to care for Rosa but gen­er­al­ly is not a re­spectable man so he finds it dif­fi­cult to es­cape pre­vi­ous en­gage­ments and re­la­tion­ships. Baz­zard is more evil, work­ing clos­er with Jasper and be­tray­ing to Jasper that Edwin had been car­ry­ing the ring.

Crisparkle, Neville, He­le­na, Rosa, and even Miss Twin­kle­ton in some small ways, work to­geth­er to fit clues to­geth­er. Grew­gious is oc­ca­sion­al­ly pre­sent but seems to be more trou­ble than help to the group. He­le­na is con­vinced that the only way to vin­di­cate her broth­er is to force a con­fes­sion from Jasper.

Jasper be­gins to close in on Rosa, and even­tu­al­ly alien­ates Grew­gious from his group of sup­port­ers be­cause of this. In a dra­mat­ic scene in which Grew­gious re­lives a scene of his past with Rosa’s moth­er, Grew­gious leaves Jasper, Baz­zard and Sapsea to tell Rosa of Jasper’s fear about the ring. He­le­na dress­es as Edwin and meets him in the tomb, where Tar­tar knows is the sus­pect­ed buri­al place for Edwin be­cause of Sapsea’s in­abil­i­ty to keep from brag­ging and vis­its with Dur­dles. Jasper is fright­ened by the ghost and the truth is re­vealed, con­demn­ing Jasper to a cell for the mur­der of Edwin Drood. When they in­ves­ti­gate the tomb they dis­cov­er the body of Deputy’s moth­er in­stead of Sapsea’s wife. Sapsea’s wife was stashed away in an­oth­er tomb by Jasper the night he was with Dur­dles, in an­tic­i­pa­tion for the mur­der of Edwin. How­ev­er, in Jasper’s state he was able to mis­take the woman’s body, pre­served in quick-lime, for Edwin’s and Edwin was able to es­cape. Through­out the end of the story, par­tic­u­lar­ly the last chap­ters in which Jasper is locked in his cell, Jasper de­clines into mad­ness and guilt – with­out the aid of opium. The end!