Linda P. Pridgen: The “Jaded Traveller”: John Jasper’s Failed Psychic Quest

This the­sis is a Jun­gian study of John Jasper, the cen­tral char­ac­ter in Charles Dick­ens’s The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. Jasper fails to achieve psy­cho­log­i­cal whole­ness be­cause he suf­fers from what Carl G. Jung calls dis­so­ci­a­tion of con­scious­ness, a mal­a­dy that pre­vents Jasper from en­ter­ing the pro­cess of in­di­vid­u­a­tion — a pro­cess of self-dis­cov­ery. Jasper’s bore­dom, self-alien­ation, hypocrisy, and se­cret dou­ble life im­pede his search for self.

Faced with pro­jec­tions of his anima and shad­ow self, Jasper has many op­por­tu­ni­ties for psy­cho­log­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al growth. But rather than in­te­grate the as­pects of his per­son­al­i­ty that each of the anima and shad­ow fig­ures rep­re­sents, he re­jects their mes­sages or at­tempts to mes­mer­ize them into sub­mis­sion to his will.

Through­out the novel, the jour­ney motif con­stant­ly sur­faces, em­pha­siz­ing that Jasper is on a quest in search of his self. But it is a failed quest that leads to psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­in­te­gra­tion.