Linda P. Pridgen: The “Jaded Traveller”, Part I



So much ink and paper has in fact been ex­pend­ed on at­tempts to wrest from the por­tion Dick­ens com­plet­ed the se­cret he took with him to the grave, that the only pre­lim­i­nary de­mand like­ly to be made by the prospec­tive read­er is my ex­cuse for in­trud­ing where so many an­gels have del­i­cate­ly passed be­fore.

Felix Aylmer, The Drood Case


he sheer bulk and va­ri­ety of re­sponse to Charles Dick­ens’s last and, re­gret­tably, un­fin­ished nov­el — The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood — at­tests to its broad and ap­par­ent­ly un­fad­ing ap­peal. The var­i­ous re­spons­es to the text range from dra­mat­ic, mu­si­cal, and film adap­ta­tions, se­quels, con­tin­u­a­tions, and con­clu­sions of the novel, par­o­dies of the plot, tele­vi­sion and radio dra­mas, and even sev­er­al mock tri­als held to de­ter­mine the guilt or in­no­cence of the main char­ac­ter, John Jasper. The over­whelm­ing amount of crit­i­cal com­men­tary alone would make the com­pi­la­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive Drood bib­li­og­ra­phy a daunt­ing pro­ject. For­tu­nate­ly, how­ev­er, Don Richard Cox did not allow what oth­ers might in­ter­pret as a Her­culean task to stop him from com­pil­ing just such a bib­li­og­ra­phy. Cox points out in his pref­ace to his 1998 an­no­tat­ed bib­li­og­ra­phy on The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood that this near­ly com­pre­hen­sive com­pi­la­tion lists “nine­ty” to “nine­ty-five per­cent” “of the Drood com­men­tary that has ever been pub­lished” (ix). Be­cause it is both a re­cent pub­li­ca­tion and a near­ly com­plete work, Cox’s bib­li­og­ra­phy pro­vides the best overview of Drood crit­i­cism now avail­able.

It is im­por­tant to note that Cox has di­vid­ed the ma­te­ri­al on lit­er­ary crit­i­cism and anal­y­sis into two sec­tions — one from 1871 to 1939, the other from 1940 to 1997. This di­vi­sion, Cox ex­plains in his pref­ace, “re­flect[s] the gen­er­al­ly ac­knowl­edged shift in Dick­ens stud­ies that comes with Ed­mund Wil­son’s [1940] ar­ti­cle, “Dick­ens: The Two Scrooges” (xi). Be­fore the pub­li­ca­tion of Wil­son’s ar­ti­cle, Cox re­minds us, the focus of most schol­ar­ship and de­bate was on find­ing a so­lu­tion to the “mys­tery” (xi). Cox as­serts that Wil­son’s ar­ti­cle goes be­yond this nar­row focus and “stress­es the im­por­tance of this novel to our un­der­stand­ing of Dick­ens and his work” (xi). Fur­ther­more, Cox uses this di­vi­sion in dates to em­pha­size an­oth­er major change in Dick­ens schol­ar­ship — “the chang­ing of the guard” that in­evitably oc­curred as fore­most schol­ars of the ear­li­er era passed away, and new schol­ars with new in­sights came to the fore­front (xi).

When re­view­ing the mas­sive amount of com­men­tary about Drood, a re­searcher should keep in mind what stim­u­lat­ed such an out­pour­ing. Felix Aylmer ex­plains the rea­sons for the over­whelm­ing re­sponse to Dick­ens’s last novel in The Drood Case when he writes that “as the last work of our best-loved nov­el­ist and one of the most fa­mous puz­zles in lit­er­a­ture, it is bet­ter known, and has won more crit­i­cal at­ten­tion, than any com­pa­ra­ble book that can be cited” (1). Thus Aylmer ob­serves that it was both Dick­ens’s char­ac­ter — or at the very least the read­ing pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of his char­ac­ter — and the na­ture of his last work that en­gen­dered an en­tire in­dus­try of crit­i­cal re­sponse to The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. Dick­ens’s sud­den death fol­low­ing a stroke, while in the pro­cess of com­pos­ing the work, left his read­ers in a state of shock. The fact that Dick­ens had died while in the mid­dle of writ­ing a mys­tery fu­eled even greater cu­rios­i­ty about his un­fin­ished novel. In order to sat­is­fy not only the cu­rios­i­ty of the pub­lic but their own as well, many crit­ics felt com­pelled to com­pose an end­ing to the work and, thus, pro­vide some sense of clo­sure to Dick­ens’s life and work.

The first of these “con­tin­u­a­tions,” as Cox points out, was writ­ten in 1870, the year of Dick­ens’s death. Sur­pris­ing­ly, it was a par­o­dy en­ti­tled The Cloven Foot writ­ten by Or­pheus Kerr, the pseudonym of R. N. Newell (Cox xvii). The most bizarre con­tin­u­a­tion, The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood Com­plete. Part Sec­ond of the Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. By the Spir­it-Pen of Charles Dick­ens, Through a Medi­um, was of­fered to the world by Thomas P. James, who swears Dick­ens, using James as a medi­um, wrote the re­main­der of the novel from be­yond the grave (Cox 175). Sev­er­al au­thors, ob­vi­ous­ly still in­trigued by the mys­tery, have con­tin­ued to write con­tin­u­a­tions. In fact, ac­cord­ing to Cox, two of the best end­ings were pub­lished in 1980 — The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood by Leon Garfield and The De­cod­ing of Edwin Drood by “hus­band and wife team mys­tery writ­ers,” Mavis and Gor­don Philo, who write under the pseudonym of Charles Forsyte (466). Cox points out that one of the strengths of these two con­clu­sions is the au­thors’ abil­i­ty to im­i­tate Dick­ens’s style (170, 171).

Many crit­ics were not so much in­ter­est­ed in writ­ing con­clu­sions to the mys­tery as they were in ar­gu­ing about the var­i­ous so­lu­tions that were being of­fered, or quib­bling over what they con­sid­ered im­por­tant is­sues in the novel that had never been sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly ad­dressed. Ac­cord­ing to Cox, it all start­ed in­no­cent­ly enough in 1884 with the anony­mous pub­li­ca­tion of an ar­ti­cle in The Corn­hill Mag­a­zine (xix-xx). This anony­mous essay, which was later at­tribut­ed to Henry Suther­land Ed­wards, mere­ly sug­gests that “Datch­ery was a de­tec­tive [. . .] hired by Grew­gious” (Cox xx). In propos­ing this idea, Ed­wards had un­wit­ting­ly stirred other Drood­i­ans to think about the role of Datch­ery, which, in turn, led them to pon­der other ques­tions, es­pe­cial­ly the cen­tral ques­tions of whether Drood was ac­tu­al­ly dead and if he were, had Jasper done the dirty deed? As a re­sult of this re­think­ing of var­i­ous el­e­ments of the plot, a new school of thought emerged — that of the so-called “res­ur­rec­tion­ists” — who as­sert­ed that Drood was not dead at all, an idea that re­fut­ed state­ments Dick­ens’s bi­og­ra­pher John Forster had made (Cox xx).

One of the ad­vo­cates of the res­ur­rec­tion­ist the­o­ry was J. Cum­ing Wal­ters. His book, Clues to the Mys­tery of Edwin Drood, was pub­lished in 1905, a sem­i­nal year in the his­to­ry of Dick­ens schol­ar­ship. In that year, not only did Wal­ters in­tro­duce a scan­dalous new in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the role of He­le­na Land­less, but two other major events oc­curred: “the Dick­ens Fel­low­ship was formed and The Dick­en­sian began pub­li­ca­tion” (Cox xxi). As Cox points out, when Wal­ters’s book was pub­lished “there was an au­di­ence ready and wait­ing to scru­ti­nize it” (xxi). Ac­cord­ing to Cox, Wal­ters’s “the­o­ry” that He­le­na Land­less was ac­tu­al­ly Datch­ery “in a white wig and trousers” “shocked many,” es­pe­cial­ly those “Dick­en­sians who found this cross-dress­ing im­prop­er or even a lit­tle provoca­tive” (xxi). Over the next three years, the de­bate grew so in­tense that B.W. Matz, the ed­i­tor of The Dick­en­sian , de­clared a mora­to­ri­um on pub­li­ca­tion of Drood com­men­tary, an edict that would not be lift­ed until 1911 (Cox xxii-iii). It was in that year that Henry Jack­son, Pro­fes­sor at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty, pub­lished his schol­ar­ly trea­tise on the novel, About Edwin Drood. Cox con­tends that Jack­son’s po­si­tion as an es­teemed pro­fes­sor gave a sense of “le­git­i­ma­cy” to the study of the novel (xxii). How­ev­er, Jack­son’s book — square­ly on the side of Forster who had con­signed Drood to the grave — al­so re­vived the de­bate with the res­ur­rec­tion­ists. Let­ters and es­says deal­ing with the topic of Drood once again began pour­ing into the of­fices of The Dick­en­sian.

The de­bate was in full swing again by 1912 when W. Robert­son Nicoll’s The Prob­lem of Edwin Drood was pub­lished. By re­ly­ing on “state­ments by Dick­ens to fam­i­ly and friends” (Cox 336), Nicoll em­ploys “bi­o­graph­i­cal ev­i­dence to con­clude that Drood was dead and that He­le­na was Datch­ery,” two of the burn­ing ques­tions that J. Cum­ing Wal­ters had ear­li­er posed in his Clues to the Mys­tery of Edwin Drood (Cox xxiii). Nicoll points out in his pref­ace that not only does he ex­plore some old ques­tions about Drood, but that he also adds to the dis­course in sev­er­al ways. First of all, his book points out some tex­tu­al er­rors in the first edi­tion cre­at­ed by Forster, who “had ig­nored Dick­ens’s era­sures, and had re­placed all the omit­ted pas­sages in the text” (3). To rem­e­dy this prob­lem, Nicoll print­ed the pas­sages that Dick­ens omit­ted in the later proofs (xi). In his book, Nicoll also pub­lished “for the first time Dick­ens’s notes and plans for the novel,” tes­ti­monies of friends and fam­i­ly, and “an ac­count of the un­act­ed play” about Drood coau­thored by “Charles Dick­ens the younger and Joseph Hat­ton” (xii).

In the year fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of Nicoll’s book, the in­ter­est and com­men­tary on Drood con­tin­ued to grow. Cox ob­serves in his in­tro­duc­tion to the Drood bib­li­og­ra­phy that in­ter­est in Drood had grown so great at this junc­ture that mem­bers of the Dick­ens Fel­low­ship “de­cid­ed to cap­i­tal­ize on the furor and hold a pub­lic ‘trial’ of Jasper” (xxiii). Cox notes that the idea to con­duct a trial “was in many ways an un­prece­dent­ed event in the his­to­ry of let­ters,” but con­veys to some de­gree “how deeply feel­ings about [Drood] were run­ning” (xxiii). Be­cause of the amount and in­ten­si­ty of crit­i­cal at­ten­tion that Drood at­tract­ed at the turn of the cen­tu­ry, crit­ics now des­ig­nate 1905 to 1914 as the gold­en age of Drood crit­i­cism (Cox xxv).

Early crit­i­cal re­spons­es dis­played a de­cid­ed­ly Pick­wick­ian qual­i­ty, in­so­far as their au­thors tend­ed to focus on minor and some­times even triv­ial de­tails of plot and char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. Like the mem­bers of the Pick­wick Club who en­gaged in their pseu­do- sci­en­tif­ic in­ves­ti­ga­tions of rel­a­tive­ly in­con­se­quen­tial phe­nomenon — such as Pick­wick’s re­search on “Tit­tle­bats” — these early crit­ics ex­ag­ger­at­ed the im­por­tance of in­signif­i­cant mat­ters that later crit­ics would large­ly ig­nore in lieu of more sig­nif­i­cant the­mat­ic and psy­cho­log­i­cal stud­ies (The Pick­wick Pa­pers 25). For ex­am­ple, Cox re­counts that in the 1920s, crit­ics, for the most part, aban­doned their for­mer plot de­bates and fo­cused more on the themes in Drood. Aubrey Boyd was one of this new breed of crit­ics who dis­missed the im­por­tance of know­ing Datch­ery’s iden­ti­ty and ex­plored in­stead the “themes of mes­merism and ori­en­tal­ism” that he be­lieved “were at the heart of the novel” (xxvi). Cox adds that Aubrey Boyd’s ar­ti­cle “A New Angle on the Drood Mys­tery” was to be a major in­flu­ence on Ed­mund Wil­son (xxvi).

In the 1930s, Cox notes, Howard Duffield emerged as an im­por­tant crit­ic of Drood (xxix). Ac­cord­ing to Cox, Duffield was an “Amer­i­can physi­cian” as well as a “sound lit­er­ary crit­ic,” who amassed a siz­able col­lec­tion of “ma­te­ri­als re­lat­ed to Drood — a col­lec­tion he later do­nat­ed to the Dick­ens House Mu­se­um (xxix). Cox re­ports that Duffield’s major con­tri­bu­tion to the study of Drood — in ad­di­tion to his do­nat­ed col­lec­tion of ma­te­ri­als — was his ar­ti­cle “John Jasper — Stran­gler,” which iden­ti­fied John Jasper as a Thug and in­tro­duced a whole new way of read­ing the novel (xxix).

Ed­mund Wil­son was strong­ly in­flu­enced by Duffield’s Thug the­o­ry and drew on it ex­ten­sive­ly as the basis for his sem­i­nal essay pub­lished in 1940, “Dick­ens: The Two Scrooges.” Cox com­ments on the tremen­dous im­pact this ar­ti­cle has had on Dick­ens schol­ars, going so far as to de­clare that Wil­son’s ar­ti­cle is “the most in­flu­en­tial Dick­ens essay of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry” (xxx). Ac­cord­ing to Wil­son’s essay, which ex­plains Duffield’s Thug the­o­ry in de­tail, Jasper be­longed to an In­di­an cult whose mem­bers wor­shipped “Kali, the Hindu god­dess of de­struc­tion” (Wil­son 87). In his essay Wil­son draws nu­mer­ous analo­gies be­tween Jasper and the typ­i­cal Thug cult mem­ber. For ex­am­ple, as Wil­son ex­plains, both Jasper and the Thug are “de­vot­ed” kins­men who hold “po­si­tions of honor in the com­mu­ni­ty” (94). It is also be­lieved that Thugs kill only trav­el­ers and then gen­er­al­ly by stran­gu­la­tion. Wil­son ar­gues that Jasper does not de­vi­ate from these stip­u­lat­ed be­hav­iors, since his nephew Edwin Drood is in fact a trav­el­er on his way to Egypt, and that as ear­li­er com­men­ta­tors had tes­ti­fied, Jasper does use his long black scarf to stran­gle his nephew. 1

Even though the elab­o­rate Thug the­o­ry seems fair­ly far-fetched to the mod­ern read­er, Wil­son points out in his ar­ti­cle that Dick­ens would have been fa­mil­iar with the cult, be­cause two mem­bers of the British gov­ern­ment, who had worked to sup­press Thug ac­tiv­i­ty dur­ing the 1830s, had writ­ten books — one a fic­tion­al­ized ac­count — about their ex­pe­ri­ence (86). Fur­ther­more, as Wil­son notes, “Dick­ens him­self had men­tioned the Thugs in 1857 in con­nec­tion with a gar­rot­ing epi­dem­ic in Lon­don,” and his friend Ed­ward Bul­w­er Lyt­ton had also “con­sid­ered using this theme” (86).

While Wil­son’s ex­po­si­tion of Duffield’s Thug the­o­ry may help ex­plain Jasper’s bizarre be­hav­ior, other as­pects of Wil­son’s essay seem even more sig­nif­i­cant, par­tic­u­lar­ly his sug­ges­tion that stu­dents of Dick­ens should be in­ter­est­ed in Drood be­cause of “the psy­cho­log­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties of [Jasper’s] char­ac­ter”(85). With this com­ment, Wil­son in­vit­ed other crit­ics to ex­plore the psy­cho­log­i­cal di­men­sions of the novel. In fact, as point­ed out ear­li­er, Cox sug­gests in the pref­ace to his Drood bib­li­og­ra­phy that Wil­son’s essay prompt­ed a “gen­er­al shift in Drood com­men­tary,” a shift that led crit­ics to focus more on what Cox calls the “psy­cho­log­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion” for Jasper’s be­hav­ior (xxxi).

Vic­to­ri­ans ex­pressed a widespread in­ter­est in psy­cho­path­ic mur­der­ers like Jasper. Richard D. Altick notes that Vic­to­ri­ans ac­tu­al­ly en­joyed read­ing about mur­der: “shud­der they did when they read of a fresh out­rage; but it was an ap­pre­cia­tive re­sponse, a form of plea­sure. [. . .] the fact is that mur­der was above all a pop­u­lar en­ter­tain­ment” (302). Along with Dick­ens, Robert Brown­ing stands out as yet an­oth­er Vic­to­ri­an artist who ex­hibits a keen in­ter­est in de­pict­ing psy­chopaths and their homi­ci­dal ten­den­cies. Clear­ly, there is a re­la­tion­ship be­tween Jasper and the psy­chopaths

Robert Brown­ing de­picts in his po­et­ry, par­tic­u­lar­ly the speak­er in “Por­phyr­ia’s Lover” and the Duke of Fer­rara, who is the speak­er in Brown­ing’s “My Last Duchess.” Like Jasper, the Duke and Por­phyr­ia’s killer are pos­sessed by patho­log­i­cal jeal­ousy and ob­sessed with the woman they love, so much so that they ul­ti­mate­ly de­stroy the very thing they pro­fess to love.

The psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pect of the Vic­to­ri­an mur­der­er as em­bod­ied in Jasper was not the only area that Wil­son ex­plored. He also chart­ed new ter­ri­to­ry in bi­o­graph­i­cal crit­i­cism by sug­gest­ing that there was a cor­re­la­tion be­tween Jasper and Dick­ens (102-03). Wil­son’s in­flu­ence can be traced in Edgar John­son’s 1952 bi­og­ra­phy of Dick­ens — Charles Dick­ens: His Tragedy and Tri­umph — which, ac­cord­ing to Cox, re­mains the defini­tive bi­og­ra­phy (xxxi). John­son’s chap­ter, “The Dying and Undy­ing Voice,” re­sumes the psy­cho­log­i­cal anal­y­sis of Jasper that Wil­son had in­tro­duced in “The Two Scrooges,” and fur­ther sug­gests that “Jasper may be the pro­jec­tion of a dilem­ma Dick­ens had part­ly sym­bol­ized in Hard Times, the po­si­tion of the artist and his re­la­tion to Vic­to­ri­an so­ci­ety” (1123). John­son fur­ther ex­pands on this con­nec­tion be­tween Dick­ens and Jasper by sug­gest­ing that He­le­na Land­less may have been a fic­tion­al Ellen Ter­nan, the young woman who many now be­lieve was Dick­ens’s mis­tress (1123). If the link be­tween the two women is ac­cu­rate, John­son sus­pects that Dick­ens may have been plan­ning a “strug­gle of wills” to ensue be­tween Jasper and He­le­na, sim­i­lar to that which Dick­ens may have al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced with Ellen (1123).

In ad­di­tion to John­son’s bi­og­ra­phy, an­oth­er sig­nif­i­cant crit­i­cal work on Drood ap­peared in the 1950s — The Drood Mur­der Case by Richard M. Baker. Baker’s book is a col­lec­tion of five es­says on Drood . What is sig­nif­i­cant about Baker’s work is that it con­tin­ues to ex­plore the psy­cho­log­i­cal theme that, a decade ear­li­er, Ed­mund Wil­son had in­tro­duced. Ac­cord­ing to Brad­ford A. Booth, who wrote the in­tro­duc­tion to Baker’s book, Baker is draw­ing a di­rect com­par­i­son be­tween Dick­ens and Jasper by sug­gest­ing that in Drood Dick­ens “was ex­am­in­ing his own psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­cess­es” (ix).

In the 1960s Felix Aylmer reemerged after a forty-year hia­tus from pub­lish­ing, pro­mul­gat­ing a rev­o­lu­tion­ary in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the novel. Aylmer as­serts in The Drood Case that Jasper is in­no­cent, a major de­vi­a­tion in thought from the tra­di­tion­al­ly-held view that Jasper had ac­tu­al­ly com­mit­ted the ghast­ly mur­der. Aylmer had in­tro­duced this rad­i­cal the­o­ry as early as 1924, but as Cox points out, it must have caught “read­ers by sur­prise,” be­cause it “did not draw the fire one might have ex­pect­ed” (xxvi).

Al­though Aylmer took a dif­fer­ent tack, his book was es­sen­tial­ly an ex­plo­ration of Jasper’s char­ac­ter, an area of crit­i­cal con­cern that had moved to the fore­front since Ed­mund Wil­son’s 1940 essay had in­tro­duced the idea that Jasper’s be­hav­ior sug­gest­ed a psy­cho­log­i­cal depth that de­served ex­am­i­na­tion. Other stud­ies fol­low­ing Wil­son’s lead ap­peared be­tween 1959 and 1969. These stud­ies will serve as the spring­board for my anal­y­sis of the char­ac­ter of Jasper. Each of the stud­ies ex­plores Jasper as a man who pos­sess­es what Wil­son calls a “dual per­son­al­i­ty” (92).

One of the ar­ti­cles from this pe­ri­od that ex­plores the psy­cho­log­i­cal di­men­sion of Jasper’s char­ac­ter is Lau­ri­at Lane’s “Dick­ens and the Dou­ble,” pub­lished in The Dick­en­sian in 1959. Lane’s ar­ti­cle ex­am­ines sev­er­al of Dick­ens’s char­ac­ters who rep­re­sent what he calls an “archety­pal fig­ure of the dou­ble” (47). Lane as­serts that Jasper “is an ex­am­ple of the pure­ly in­ter­nal dou­ble” (52). He means, by this, that the fea­ture of Jasper’s “dou­ble­ness [is] en­tire­ly with­in the char­ac­ter” and not rep­re­sent­ed by a sep­a­rate char­ac­ter as we see, for ex­am­ple, in “Con­rad’s The Se­cret Shar­er “ (47). Be­cause Jasper’s “outer moral self con­trast[s] vi­o­lent­ly with [his] inner de­prav­i­ty,” Lane com­pares Jasper to other fic­tion­al “in­ter­nal dou­bles,” such as “M.G. Lewis’s lech­er­ous monk and Hawthorne’s guilty min­is­ter” (53).

Charles Mitchell’s “The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood : The In­te­ri­or and Ex­te­ri­or of Self” in some ways echoes Lane’s study in that it ex­am­ines close­ly the du­al­ism in Jasper’s per­son­al­i­ty. How­ev­er, Mitchell goes sev­er­al steps fur­ther by as­sert­ing that there are sev­er­al char­ac­ters in the novel who suf­fer from a sim­i­lar du­al­i­ty. Mitchell’s ar­ti­cle, al­though not a Jun­gian study of Jasper, does point out that Jasper’s du­al­ism is linked to his re­la­tion­ships with other char­ac­ters, an as­pect of the novel that I will ex­plore in depth in later chap­ters.

In ad­di­tion to the psy­cho­log­i­cal stud­ies of Jasper that ap­peared in the 1960s, Cox re­ports in the in­tro­duc­tion to his Drood bib­li­og­ra­phy that this pe­ri­od also saw “the emer­gence of an im­por­tant new Drood crit­ic, Arthur J. Cox” (xxxii). One of Arthur Cox’s main con­tri­bu­tions to Drood­i­ana is his 1974 Pen­guin edi­tion of the novel, which ac­cord­ing to Don Cox, “has be­come the most pop­u­lar edi­tion of the book” (xxxii-iii).

From the 1970s to the pre­sent, crit­ics have con­tin­ued to in­ves­ti­gate themes, sym­bols, and mo­tifs found in the novel that have rarely, if ever, been ex­plored. These would in­clude stud­ies of the novel’s Goth­ic el­e­ments, stud­ies of the sym­bol of the river and the cathe­dral, and stud­ies of the theme of im­pe­ri­al­ism (Cox xxxi­ii-vi). Dur­ing this decade, Jim Gar­ner also point­ed out that Dick­ens may have taken the idea for the Drood plot from an in­fa­mous mur­der com­mit­ted by a Har­vard pro­fes­sor (Cox xxxi­ii). It is a well-known fact that Dick­ens had a life-long in­ter­est in crim­i­nal be­hav­ior, so this hy­poth­e­sis is not with­out its pro­po­nents.

As the cen­tu­ry drew to a close, lit­tle was being pub­lished on the psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pects of Drood. Ac­cord­ing to Cox, there was, how­ev­er, a de­vel­op­ing in­ter­est in the novel’s re­li­gious “themes of res­ur­rec­tion and re­demp­tion” and a bur­geon­ing in­ter­est in the po­lit­i­cal­ly cor­rect theme of ho­mo­sex­u­al­i­ty (xxxv-vi). Per­haps schol­ars began ex­am­in­ing fresh top­ics be­cause they found the psy­cho­log­i­cal di­men­sion to be thor­ough­ly ex­haust­ed. De­spite the rea­sons for its de­cline, I have de­cid­ed to res­ur­rect the psy­cho­log­i­cal ap­proach by ex­am­in­ing Jasper from a Jun­gian point of view. While for­mer psy­cho­log­i­cal stud­ies sug­gest that Jasper suf­fers from a dual con­scious­ness, they fail to apply Jun­gian con­cepts to the novel as a way of ex­plain­ing and un­der­stand­ing Jasper’s aber­rant be­hav­ior. By re­lat­ing Jun­gian con­cepts to the novel, this study will ex­plore Jasper as one who suf­fers not so much from the de­bil­i­tat­ing ef­fects of a dual con­scious­ness, as one who can­not achieve psy­chic whole­ness be­cause he suf­fers from utter frag­men­ta­tion.

As a Jun­gian frag­ment­ed self, Jasper suf­fers from what Carl G. Jung calls “dis­so­ci­a­tion of con­scious­ness,” a mal­a­dy of the self that may be brought about by un­der­ly­ing com­plex­es, “re­pressed emo­tion­al themes that can cause con­stant psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tur­bances or . . . in many cases the symp­toms of neu­ro­sis” (Man and his Sym­bols 24, 27). Jung as­serts that “for the sake of men­tal sta­bil­i­ty [. . .] the un­con­scious and the con­scious must be in­te­gral­ly con­nect­ed [. . . ] [for] if they are split apart or ‘dis­so­ci­at­ed,’ psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tur­bance fol­lows” (52). This study will show that Jasper lacks men­tal sta­bil­i­ty be­cause his con­scious and un­con­scious selves are torn apart and un­able to in­te­grate. Marie-Louise von Franz writes in “The Pro­cess of In­di­vid­u­a­tion” (a chap­ter of Man and his Sym­bols) that psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tur­bances in cases of dis­so­ci­a­tion may take the form of “ex­ces­sive day­dream­ing, which in a se­cret way usu­al­ly cir­cles around par­tic­u­lar com­plex­es” (213). As this study will show, Jasper suf­fers from ex­ces­sive day­dream­ing and other psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tur­bances, ex­ac­er­bat­ed by his use of opium. He is also plagued by an over­whelm­ing sense of bore­dom, an in­tense jeal­ousy of his nephew Drood whose life holds ex­cit­ing prospects, and an ob­ses­sion­al lust for his nephew’s fiancée, Rosa.

In Jung’s view, the chief goal of the in­di­vid­u­al is to achieve psy­chic har­mo­ny through a pro­cess known as “in­di­vid­u­a­tion [. . .] the con­scious com­ing-to-terms with one’s own inner cen­ter [. . .] or Self” (Man and his Sym­bols 166). Through­out The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood Jasper in­ter­acts with a va­ri­ety of char­ac­ters, many of whom rep­re­sent pro­jec­tions of his an­i­ma — what Jung and von Franz call the “per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of all fem­i­nine psy­cho­log­i­cal ten­den­cies in a man’s psy­che” (177). For in­stance, Rosa Bud, He­le­na Land­less, and Princess Puffer are anima fig­ures that Jasper is in­ca­pable of in­te­grat­ing. In ad­di­tion, Sep­ti­mus Crisparkle, Neville Land­less, and other male fig­ures rep­re­sent pro­jec­tions of Jasper’s shad­ow self. Jasper’s in­ter­ac­tion with these char­ac­ters re­veals his un­sat­is­fac­to­ry and frus­trat­ing at­tempts to achieve in­di­vid­u­a­tion.

By the end of the novel, hopes of his ever achiev­ing in­di­vid­u­a­tion are lost as he plunges deep­er into frag­men­ta­tion and mad­ness.

En­cour­aged by the psy­cho­log­i­cal stud­ies that have al­ready been done, I hope to build on the psy­cho­log­i­cal in­sights they pro­vide and, through a Jun­gian in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the novel, offer yet an­oth­er way to par­tic­i­pate in the imag­i­na­tive ex­pe­ri­ence that Dick­ens of­fers us in The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood.



If it is true that no other Vic­to­ri­an nov­el­ist re­lied as often as Dick­ens did upon man’s homi­ci­dal pro­cliv­i­ties, it is also true that no pop­u­lar or would- be pop­u­lar nov­el­ist of the six­ties and early sev­en­ties whol­ly over­looked the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the sub­ject.

Richard D. Altick, Vic­to­ri­an Stud­ies in Scar­let


num­ber of crit­ics have com­ment­ed on Dick­ens’s fas­ci­na­tion with the crim­i­nal mind, a fas­ci­na­tion that he chose to an­i­mate in the array of crim­i­nal char­ac­ters he cre­at­ed. Philip Collins has de­vot­ed a book-length study to the sub­ject. In Dick­ens and Crime Collins as­serts that John Jasper is the final in a long line of crim­i­nal char­ac­ters who pop­u­late Dick­ens’s fic­tion be­gin­ning with Bill Sikes in Oliv­er Twist (296-97). But Collins also em­pha­sizes that this par­tic­u­lar vil­lain stands apart from the rest be­cause he “is still more in­tel­li­gent, more com­plex psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly, more re­spectable, and more am­bigu­ous in his re­la­tion to so­ci­ety, than his pre­de­ces­sors” (296-97). Wendy Ja­cob­son as­tute­ly points out in her essay “The Gen­e­sis of the Last Novel: The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood “ that al­though Sikes and Jasper ap­pear on the sur­face to be ut­ter­ly dif­fer­ent, that “they are both wrought from the same source: from the fig­ure of the man whose evil pur­sues and de­stroys him, the man who kills the thing he loves” (206-07). Ed­mund Wil­son main­tains in his essay “Dick­ens: The Two Scrooges” that with the cre­ation of John Jasper Dick­ens was “car­ry­ing the theme of the crim­i­nal, which has haunt­ed him all his life, to its log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment in his fic­tion. [ . . .] to ex­plore the deep en­tan­gle­ment and con­flict of the bad and the good in one man” (99). Angus Wil­son echoes this sen­ti­ment in his in­tro­duc­tion to the Pen­guin edi­tion of the novel, point­ing out that in his es­ti­ma­tion The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood de­picts Dick­ens’s “pre­oc­cu­pa­tion” with the “fight be­tween the forces of Good and Evil as ex­em­pli­fied in con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety, with par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis upon the anal­y­sis and per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Evil” (14). Angus Wil­son also records in his in­tro­duc­tion that state­ments by Dick­ens's “life­long friend and bi­og­ra­pher John Forster” (15) val­i­date that with John Jasper, Dick­ens in­tend­ed to cre­ate “a di­vid­ed man whose evil side was cut off from his ev­ery­day self” (23). Robert Barnard notes Jasper’s in­sid­i­ous hyp­o­crit­i­cal na­ture, ob­serv­ing that “[. . .] to the world John Jasper is a man of piety, dili­gence and sense of duty, but in his heart he is tor­ment­ed, lust­ful and mur­der­ous” (134).

Based on the state­ments of these crit­ics, it is pos­si­ble to sur­mise that Dick­ens had am­bi­tious plans for Jasper. Be­cause Jasper em­bod­ies many of the same con­flicts that rid­dled Vic­to­ri­an so­ci­ety, it is pos­si­ble to see him as a per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of those con­tra­dic­to­ry el­e­ments. There­fore, Jasper, on one level, may func­tion as a ve­hi­cle where­by Dick­ens ex­plores, not only clash­ing forces with­in the man him­self, but dis­cor­dant char­ac­ter­is­tics of Vic­to­ri­an so­ci­ety as a whole. Through this com­plex crim­i­nal char­ac­ter it may be pos­si­ble that Dick­ens was ex­plor­ing un­set­tling fea­tures of the Vic­to­ri­an mind, such as re­pres­sion, hypocrisy, and malaise.

If, in fact, Jasper is a man in con­flict with him­self, he re­flects the same di­vi­sive­ness and iden­ti­ty cri­sis that per­me­at­ed Vic­to­ri­an Eng­land. As the cul­ture around him was un­der­go­ing tremen­dous so­cial up­heaval, so, too, was he at­tempt­ing to en­dure his own tor­ment­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al cri­sis. Com­ments by var­i­ous crit­ics of the pe­ri­od help to sub­stan­ti­ate this view. For ex­am­ple, Masao Miyoshi in her in­tro­duc­tion to The Di­vid­ed Self: A Per­spec­tive on the Lit­er­a­ture of the Vic­to­ri­ans quotes A. N. White­head as say­ing that dur­ing the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry “each in­di­vid­u­al was ‘di­vid­ed against him­self’” (ix). Miyoshi ob­serves that as a re­sult of this in­ter­nal con­flict, the Vic­to­ri­an pe­ri­od was an age of great “per­plex­i­ty” and “con­fu­sion” (ix). Many of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the age that Wal­ter E. Houghton ex­plores in The Vic­to­ri­an Frame of Mind — char­ac­ter­is­tics such as iso­la­tion, hypocrisy, re­li­gious doubt, and en­nui — are the very fea­tures of Jasper’s life that Dick­ens choos­es to ex­plore in The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. Jasper, whose own psy­che is racked with con­fu­sion and tur­moil, epit­o­mizes the very na­ture of the so­ci­ety in which he finds him­self. He tries to pre­sent a face of re­spectabil­i­ty to the com­mu­ni­ty, while hid­ing a dark, se­cret self. Miyoshi has ob­served that Jasper may in fact be a pre­cur­sor of the Jekyll-and-Hyde char­ac­ters that emerged in the “dual per­son­al­i­ty novel” of the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry (278).

Like Robert Louis Steven­son’s Jekyll-and-Hyde char­ac­ter, Jasper is also a psy­chopath who pos­sess­es what Dick­ens would call the “crim­i­nal in­tel­lect” (Drood 233). On the sur­face, Jasper ap­pears to be an up­stand­ing mem­ber of the Clois­ter­ham com­mu­ni­ty, rou­tine­ly car­ry­ing out his du­ties as cathe­dral choir­mas­ter and busi­ly demon­strat­ing his af­fec­tion for his nephew Edwin Drood. How­ev­er, Dick­ens shows us right from the start that Jasper is in no way a con­ven­tion­al char­ac­ter or con­ven­tion­al crim­i­nal for that mat­ter. He is in re­al­i­ty an opium ad­dict who fre­quents the seamy opium dens of Lon­don. As Peter Ack­royd points out in his bi­og­ra­phy of the nov­el­ist,

Dick­ens had first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of opium dens (1046). With his Amer­i­can friend, J.T. Fields, Dick­ens re­port­ed­ly vis­it­ed an opium den that may have be­come the model for the one Jasper vis­its (Ack­royd 1046).

And it wasn’t just opium dens that at­tract­ed Dick­ens. He was in­ter­est­ed in all as­pects of crim­i­nal life. Richard D. Altick as­serts that “of all Vic­to­ri­an writ­ers, Charles Dick­ens was the most pow­er­ful­ly at­tract­ed by crime” (127). Ac­cord­ing to Altick, Dick­ens had been in­ter­est­ed in the world of crime from his youth and got his first taste for sen­sa­tion­al crime by read­ing the penny dread­fuls (71). It was an ap­petite that con­tin­ued to grow through­out his life. To il­lus­trate that Dick­ens had more than a pass­ing in­ter­est in crime, Ja­cob­son pro­vides a par­tial list­ing of his large col­lec­tion of books on pris­ons, crim­i­nals, and ac­counts of crim­i­nal tri­als (158-59). Collins re­ports that “at one pe­ri­od [Dick­ens] even con­tem­plat­ed be­com­ing a paid Metropoli­tan Mag­is­trate.

[. . .] [an] am­bi­tion [that] came to noth­ing, for he lacked the nec­es­sary qual­i­fi­ca­tions [...]” (1).

It is, there­fore, not in­signif­i­cant that the last days of Dick­ens’s life were spent cre­at­ing a crim­i­nal char­ac­ter whom many crit­ics con­sid­er his most com­plex. This may be the case be­cause Dick­ens was so in tune with pop­u­lar taste and un­der­stood that his mid­dle-class au­di­ence was gen­er­al­ly look­ing for three char­ac­ter­is­tics in their read­ing ma­te­ri­al — what Altick lists as “melo­dra­ma, sus­pense, and mur­der” (74).

But Dick­ens was also weav­ing his tales of “melo­dra­ma, sus­pense, and mur­der” with an eye to de-ro­man­ti­ciz­ing crim­i­nal be­hav­ior. Ac­cord­ing to a lec­ture given by Pro­fes­sor Sty­ron Har­ris, Dick­ens’s crime fic­tion was to a large ex­tent a re­ac­tion against the New­gate Cal­en­dar school of fic­tion, one of the most pop­u­lar forms of fic­tion of his day, but one that tend­ed to glo­ri­fy crime and the life of the Lon­don un­der­world. While pro­po­nents of the New­gate Cal­en­dar school de­fend­ed their work by say­ing they were de­pict­ing the re­al­i­ty of the crim­i­nal world, Dick­ens thought there should be made avail­able to the pub­lic a more bal­anced treat­ment of the crim­i­nal el­e­ment.

Not only did Dick­ens con­ceive of fic­tion­al crim­i­nals, he also took a keen in­ter­est in ac­tu­al crim­i­nal events, at­tend­ing pub­lic ex­e­cu­tions, writ­ing let­ters stress­ing his view that ex­e­cu­tions should be con­duct­ed pri­vate­ly, and pub­lish­ing ar­ti­cles about crime in his jour­nal­House­hold Words. In one of his more fa­mous ar­ti­cles, “The De­meanour of Mur­der­ers,” Dick­ens ex­plic­it­ly states his be­lief about the na­ture of the crim­i­nal. Much of what he says here can be ap­plied to Jasper. Re­fer­ring to an in­fa­mous trial of the 1850s, Dick­ens ex­plains to the pub­lic that they should not be duped by the al­lur­ing charm, cheer­ful­ness, and su­per­fi­cial com­po­sure of the al­leged poi­son­er Dr. William Palmer. Rather, Dick­ens ad­vis­es his read­ers to keep in mind that this man is a mas­ter of chi­canery who uses his ap­peal­ing traits to en­trap his un­wit­ting vic­tims. One of the most in­sight­ful com­ments Dick­ens makes in this essay has to do with the poi­son­er’s abil­i­ty to be­guile his vic­tims by pre­tend­ing to pro­fess friend­ship for them. Dick­ens as­serts that while the crim­i­nal claims to be de­vot­ed to his vic­tims, he is qui­et­ly stir­ring ar­senic in their tea. Dick­ens main­tains that crim­i­nals can mur­der their vic­tims with­out pangs of con­science be­cause they lack an es­sen­tial as­pect of their hu­man­i­ty that Dick­ens calls “sen­ti­ment” (505). From the ex­pla­na­tion that Dick­ens of­fers, sen­ti­ment is syn­ony­mous with em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion. Dick­ens doesn’t ven­ture a guess as to how these crim­i­nals lose their abil­i­ty to feel, but it may tie in with his be­lief, as ex­pressed in Drood , that the “crim­i­nal in­tel­lect” is a “hor­ri­ble won­der apart” which even crim­i­nal ex­perts “per­pet­u­al­ly mis­read, be­cause they per­sist in try­ing to rec­on­cile it with the av­er­age in­tel­lect of av­er­age men” ( 233). In other words, the crim­i­nal mind does not par­take of the nor­mal human pro­cess of think­ing and feel­ing. Be­cause of some un­known fac­tor — per­haps a wound to the psy­che — the crim­i­nal mind re­mains for Dick­ens “a hor­ri­ble won­der apart.”

Al­though Dick­ens’s ar­ti­cle on mur­der­ers ap­peared in 1856, it is pos­si­ble to link sev­er­al of its themes with those we see at work in Drood. For ex­am­ple, as Felix Aylmer points out in The Drood Case, Dick­ens de­scribes as­pects of Jasper by using the word “good.” The de­scrip­tion of Jasper from the novel runs as fol­lows:

Mr. Jasper is a dark man of some six-and-twen­ty, with thick, lus­trous, well- ar­ranged black hair and whisker. He looks older than he is, as dark men often do. His voice is deep and good, his face and fig­ure are good, his man­ner is a lit­tle som­bre. (43)

Aylmer cites Dick­ens’s use of the word “good” to sup­port his ar­gu­ment that Jasper is in­no­cent of any crim­i­nal be­hav­ior and, above all, in­no­cent of the mur­der of his nephew. Sure­ly, Aylmer main­tains, Dick­ens would not em­ploy the word “good” if he did not in fact mean to imply that Jasper is a good man. It is ob­vi­ous to me after read­ing “The De­meanour of Mur­der­ers,” how­ev­er, that Dick­ens is using the word “good” to show that Jasper is su­per­fi­cial­ly ap­peal­ing, just as the poi­son­er William Palmer stand­ing in the docks dur­ing his trial be­came ap­peal­ing to the court­room au­di­ence be­cause of his good looks, charm, and calm de­meanor. Per­haps Dick­ens is using the word “good” as an iron­ic al­lu­sion to his ear­li­er de­scrip­tion of crim­i­nals, re­mind­ing the cir­cum­spect read­er to pay close at­ten­tion to what Jasper says and does. Lau­ri­at Lane ar­gues in “Dick­ens and the Dou­ble” that Dick­ens like­wise em­ploys the word “de­cent” to de­scribe Bradley Head­stone, a mur­der­er and cen­tral char­ac­ter in Our Mu­tu­al Friend whose hyp­o­crit­i­cal dou­ble life in many ways mir­rors that of Jasper (50). Lane ob­serves that Head­stone’s “de­cen­cy is sur­face-deep,” an as­sess­ment that could just as eas­i­ly be ap­plied to the de­cep­tive Jasper (50). It is in­ter­est­ing to note that in the evo­lu­tion of Dick­ens’s crim­i­nal char­ac­ters, one-di­men­sion­al char­ac­ters like Bill Sikes and Fagin would even­tu­al­ly give way to the more com­plex and con­flict­ed Head­stone and Jasper.

In his crime fic­tion, Dick­ens ex­hibits his keen in­ter­est in ex­plor­ing the crim­i­nal’s abil­i­ty to em­ploy hypocrisy and sub­terfuge to achieve evil ends. Altick points out that Dick­ens and his con­tem­po­raries “had some­times dig­ni­fied their use of mur­der by at­tempt­ing to de­pict ‘the crim­i­nal mind,’ a topic which un­der­stand­ably had a spe­cial at­trac­tion for the Vic­to­ri­ans” (83-84). The ques­tion fol­lows why did the Vic­to­ri­ans, and Dick­ens in par­tic­u­lar, find the topic of mur­der so provoca­tive? Altick sug­gests that the Vic­to­ri­ans found “sen­sa­tion­al mur­ders” sup­plied “ex­cite­ment, or in more strict­ly psy­cho­log­i­cal terms the al­ter­na­tive out­let for in­nate ag­gres­sive im­puls­es, which in other eras were pro­vid­ed by fierce po­lit­i­cal-re­li­gious con­tro­ver­sy or by wars [. . .]” (288). He fur­ther ex­plains that “the Vic­to­ri­an psy­che may have found mur­der to be a kind of im­moral equiv­a­lent to war” (288). It is also pos­si­ble to see a con­nec­tion be­tween Altick’s idea and that of Houghton who states in The Vic­to­ri­an Frame of Mind that many Vic­to­ri­ans were suf­fer­ing from a gen­er­al malaise (333). The ennui that Houghton de­scribes is a facet of life that Jasper also wres­tles with. He open­ly ad­mits that he is in fact bored with his life, con­fess­ing to Drood that he hates “the cramped monotony of [his] ex­is­tence,” the “daily drudg­ing round” of his life as a “monotonous cho­ris­ter and grinder of music” (Drood 48,49). Would Jasper’s bore­dom at least par­tial­ly ex­plain his mo­tive for killing Drood? Is he, like other Vic­to­ri­ans de­scribed by Altick, turn­ing his “in­nate ag­gres­sive im­puls­es” out­ward to­ward Drood in order to elim­i­nate his sense of ennui (288)?

Jasper’s sense of malaise is also a symp­tom of a frag­ment­ed self that is strug­gling to achieve in­di­vid­u­a­tion. As ex­plained in chap­ter one, Carl G. Jung de­fines in­di­vid­u­a­tion as “the con­scious com­ing-to-terms with one’s own inner cen­ter (psy­chic nu­cle­us) or Self” (166). In Jung’s view, the chief goal of the in­di­vid­u­al is to achieve the psy­chic har­mo­ny that re­sults from the pro­cess of in­di­vid­u­a­tion. Marie-Louise von Franz, a col­league of Jung’s, points out in “The Pro­cess of In­di­vid­u­a­tion” that one of the im­ped­i­ments to achiev­ing in­di­vid­u­a­tion may be “a dead­ly bore­dom that makes ev­ery­thing seem mean­ing­less and empty” (166-67). By his own ad­mis­sion Jasper suf­fers from just such an over­whelm­ing sense of bore­dom.

Houghton ar­gues that in ad­di­tion to feel­ing bored, Vic­to­ri­ans of “the upper lev­els of so­cial and in­tel­lec­tu­al life suf­fered from a marked feel­ing of im­po­tence and timid­i­ty” (332). It is ap­par­ent that Jasper also suf­fers these feel­ings of in­ad­e­qua­cy; in fact, his very words sup­port this in­ter­pre­ta­tion. For in­stance, when he pro­vokes Neville Land­less into a con­fronta­tion with Edwin, it is on the basis that Edwin has an ex­cit­ing life wait­ing for him. As Jasper ex­plains to the al­ready alien­at­ed Neville, “the world is all be­fore [Edwin] where to choose. A life of stir­ring work and in­ter­est, a life of change and ex­cite­ment, a life of do­mes­tic ease and love!” (Drood 100-01). In con­trast, Jasper em­pha­sizes that he and Neville have noth­ing “but the te­dious, un­chang­ing round of this dull place” to be en­dured each wak­ing hour (101). To over­come his feel­ings of im­po­tence, Jasper takes opium and en­ters into a fan­ta­sy in which he rules as Sul­tan.

As a pow­er­ful Sul­tan, Jasper ex­er­cis­es — at least with­in the realm of his imag­i­na­tion — the power to grant life or death. Jasper re­peat­ed­ly en­gages in this de­praved fan­ta­sy so that he may re­hearse the mur­der of his nephew. As Jasper ex­plains to the opium woman, he rel­ish­es the re­hearsal of the act — though he never dis­clos­es to her the na­ture of the act — and the jour­ney he re­peat­ed­ly takes in his imag­i­na­tion (269).

Jasper’s ad­mis­sion that he con­sis­tent­ly nur­tures the fan­ta­sy that we are led to be­lieve is the re­hearsal of his nephew’s mur­der sup­ports an ob­ser­va­tion made by Arthur J. Cox in his ar­ti­cle “The Morals of Edwin Drood.” Cox ar­gues that Jasper is a mur­der­er sim­i­lar to Head­stone in Our Mu­tu­al Friend, who, we are told, is a crim­i­nal who “strug­gles” to achieve mur­der (34). As a prospec­tive mur­der­er, Head­stone does not look for ways to avoid car­ry­ing out the mur­der but, ac­cord­ing to Cox, ex­ults in the “state of mind which the con­tem­pla­tion and com­mis­sion of the act en­gen­ders” (34). In a sim­i­lar way, Jasper, who may not have an ex­cit­ing ca­reer ahead of him in Egypt as Drood an­tic­i­pates, can re­hearse in his imag­i­na­tion the de­tails of the planned mur­der and even­tu­al­ly carry them out as a means of mit­i­gat­ing the crush­ing and un­shak­able malaise and im­po­tence that mark his life. Cox fur­ther ex­plains this the­o­ry by an­a­lyz­ing the type of re­la­tion­ship Jasper has with Drood, de­scrib­ing it as an al­most erot­ic type of love: “The lover looks to­wards his sweet­heart be­cause she is the im­plied ful­fil­ment of his de­sires; and Jasper looks to­wards Drood for much the same rea­son. His con­tem­pla­tion of the mur­der and of his vic­tim is plea­sur­able to him, even if painful­ly so, be­cause it en­ables him to feel some­thing” [em­pha­sis added] (36). Jasper is so bored that he feels al­most noth­ing. One of the few ac­tiv­i­ties he can en­gage in that pro­vides him with a sense of being alive is his oft-re­peat­ed fan­ta­sy of Drood’s mur­der. Cox as­serts that Jasper is ac­tu­al­ly el­e­vat­ing his life to a new plane by en­gag­ing in his dark fan­tasies about Drood. Al­though he may ap­pear to go about his du­ties in au­to­mo­ton- like fash­ion, ac­cord­ing to Cox, Jasper’s “mur­der­ous res­o­lu­tion [. . .] [has] raised him above the petty con­di­tions of his ex­is­tence into a pure­ly spir­i­tu­al — that is, un­con­di­tioned — kind of life” (36). Jasper, there­fore, by means of his fan­tasies, ac­quires what Dick­ens would refer to as “the de­meanour of mur­der­ers,” a state of utter hypocrisy that al­lows him to ap­pear to be a de­vot­ed uncle on the sur­face, while se­cret­ly, in the core of his being, con­tem­plat­ing the mur­der of the very nephew he claims to adore.

Jasper ex­hibits the “crim­i­nal in­tel­lect” through his ac­tions, words, and even in his fan­tasies. But be­yond the crim­i­nal di­men­sion of the man, and in­te­gral to an un­der­stand­ing of the char­ac­ter, is his dis­in­te­grat­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal state. Jasper’s psy­cho­log­i­cal frag­men­ta­tion is ev­i­dent from the out­set of the novel. Dick­ens shows us from the be­gin­ning that Jasper is a man who leads two lives. We see him first in the Lon­don opium den, se­cret­ly feed­ing his opium ap­petite, far away from the cathe­dral town of Clois­ter­ham where he is em­ployed as Lay Pre­cen­tor, or choir­mas­ter. It is in the close, dark, wretched opium den that the nar­ra­tor al­lows us a glimpse in­side Jasper’s “scat­tered con­scious­ness” (Drood 37). In his opi­um-in­duced fan­ta­sy, Jasper imag­ines a col­or­ful, ma­jes­tic pro­ces­sion com­plete with a “Turk­ish” “Sul­tan,” “danc­ing-girls,” “white ele­phants,” and flash­ing “scim­i­tars” (38). There is, how­ev­er, a per­verse tone to this vi­sion, for de­spite all of its ex­ot­ic mag­nif­i­cence, there is the men­ac­ing image of a “rusty spike” and the nar­ra­tor’s or Jasper’s sug­ges­tion that “it is set up by the Sul­tan’s or­ders for the im­pal­ing of a horde of Turk­ish rob­bers, one by one” (37).

This provoca­tive peek into Jasper’s opium dream makes it ev­i­dent that his fan­tasies re­volve around vi­o­lence and death. The fact that the vi­o­lence and death are ac­com­pa­nied by a clam­orous cel­e­bra­tion sug­gests that vi­o­lent fan­tasies offer him some sort of per­verse plea­sure. Thomas De Quincey states in Con­fes­sions of an En­glish Opium Eater that an opium user’s dreams, or even his day­dreams, are a re­flec­tion of his in­ter­ests and pre­oc­cu­pa­tions (5). We can infer from the con­tent of Jasper’s fan­ta­sy that he is pre­oc­cu­pied with vi­sions of pub­lic ex­e­cu­tions set in a bar­bar­ic non-west­ern cul­ture. For some mys­te­ri­ous rea­son he as­so­ci­ates cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment with cel­e­bra­tion. It is as though the con­tem­pla­tion of large-scale mur­der is tan­ta­liz­ing to him.

Jasper’s fan­tasies il­lus­trate the preva­lence of vi­o­lent themes in his un­con­scious. On sev­er­al oc­ca­sions, in his wak­ing life, we also see man­i­fes­ta­tions of his oth­er­wise hid­den sav­age na­ture. Some­times his vi­o­lent pro­cliv­i­ties are re­vealed by a mere word, look, or ges­ture, but at other times they re­veal them­selves in out­right acts of phys­i­cal vi­o­lence. For ex­am­ple, in the open­ing chap­ter Jasper sees a Chi­na­man in the opium den with him. Sud­den­ly, with­out warn­ing, Jasper “pounces on the Chi­na­man, and, seize[s] him with both hands by the throat [. . .]” (39). The opium woman must in­ter­pose in order to keep them from hurt­ing each other. In a later scene, Jasper again dis­plays his vi­o­lent tem­per, an­gri­ly vow­ing to “shed the blood” of Deputy, who ap­pears to be spy­ing on Jasper and Dur­dles dur­ing their noc­tur­nal trek through the cathe­dral crypt (159). Jasper grabs Deputy by the throat, and Deputy, in turn, “screws his body, and twists, as al­ready un­der­go­ing the first ag­o­nies of stran­gu­la­tion” (159). Dur­dles must re­mind Jasper to “rec­ol­lect” him­self and thus jolts Jasper out of his en­raged state (159). Sym­bol­i­cal­ly, Jasper’s gen­uine dark inner self be­gins to emerge once he loses con­trol of his tem­per, and he must be called back to re­al­i­ty in order to im­pose once again the re­pressed Jasper. The na­ture of Jasper’s at­tack on these two vic­tims also calls to mind Howard Duffield’s Thug the­o­ry. 1 If, in fact, Jasper is a Thug, who mur­ders by means of stran­gu­la­tion, these two scenes could be fore­shad­ow­ings of the method Jasper em­ploys to kill Drood.

Thus, it is not only in his fan­tasies that Jasper re­sorts to vi­o­lence. His rever­ie, how­ev­er, pro­vides him with a way to re­hearse with­out de­tec­tion what he in­tends to do even­tu­al­ly in re­al­i­ty. It is note­wor­thy that Jasper’s fan­ta­sy of vi­o­lence is in­ter­rupt­ed by the in­tru­sive image of the cathe­dral tower which brings his per­verse rever­ie to an abrupt halt and pre­empts the imag­ined ex­e­cu­tion. He awakes in the throes of an opium stu­por “shak­ing from head to foot,” feel­ing frus­trat­ed and dis­ap­point­ed that his fan­ta­sy of a “writhing fig­ure” on the “grim spike” re­mains un­sat­is­fied (37). The image of the cathe­dral tower may be a sym­bol of Jasper’s con­scious spir­i­tu­al life that is strug­gling to pre­vail over his dark side. It also re­minds him that he must soon re­turn to his dis­sat­is­fy­ing and bor­ing life at the cathe­dral. Collins sug­gests that be­cause of Jasper’s work he is “as­so­ci­at­ed with his so­ci­ety’s high­est val­ues, in their most tra­di­tion­al and dig­ni­fied set­ting” (297). Be­cause of that as­so­ci­a­tion, his at­trac­tion to the squalid opium den also sug­gests a rift in his per­son­al­i­ty. At the very least, his dou­ble life is a form of bla­tant hypocrisy. But even worse, it is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the de­gree to which his self is un­rav­el­ing.

Jasper’s in­abil­i­ty to rec­on­cile his dark se­cret self with his outer self is typ­i­cal of in­di­vid­u­als who are suf­fer­ing from what Jung calls “dis­so­ci­a­tion of con­scious­ness” (Man and his Sym­bols 24). Ac­cord­ing to Jung, this mal­a­dy of the self may be brought about by un­der­ly­ing “com­plex­es — re­pressed emo­tion­al themes that can cause con­stant psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tur­bances or even, in many cases, the symp­toms of neu­ro­sis” (27). In ad­di­tion, Jung as­serts that “for the sake of men­tal sta­bil­i­ty and even phys­i­o­log­i­cal health, the un­con­scious and the con­scious must be in­te­gral­ly con­nect­ed and thus move on par­al­lel lines. If they are split apart or ‘dis­so­ci­at­ed,’ psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tur­bance fol­lows” (52). Von Franz main­tains that one such psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tur­bance that may threat­en an in­di­vid­u­al’s “inner bal­ance comes from ex­ces­sive day­dream­ing, which in a se­cret way usu­al­ly cir­cles around par­tic­u­lar com­plex­es” (213). Von Franz adds that "day­dreams arise just be­cause they con­nect a man with his com­plex­es; at the same time they threat­en the con­cen­tra­tion and con­ti­nu­ity of his con­scious­ness” (213).

Through his opi­um-in­duced fan­tasies, Jasper re­veals him­self to be a vic­tim of just such com­plex­es. Iron­i­cal­ly, de­spite Jasper’s abil­i­ty to cre­ate a sense of outer har­mo­ny in his role as choir­mas­ter at the cathe­dral, he is un­able to ex­tend that har­mo­ny to in­clude his inner life. This dishar­mo­ny be­tween his outer and inner self fur­ther ex­ac­er­bates the frag­men­ta­tion of self from which he al­ready suf­fers.

Ques­tions arise as to what trau­mat­ic event, or events, may have trig­gered Jasper’s com­plex­es and what sorts of “re­pressed emo­tion­al themes” re­side in Jasper’s un­con­scious. Sev­er­al crit­ics have used the scant clues avail­able in the text to de­vel­op some rather elab­o­rate the­o­ries re­gard­ing the na­ture of what Jung would refer to as Jasper’s “re­pressed emo­tion­al themes.” Be­cause Jasper is an opium user, it is log­i­cal to won­der whether the opium use led to his psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lem, or if he began tak­ing opium in order to soothe his emo­tion­al prob­lem. S. J. Rust the­o­rizes Jasper may have de­vel­oped a taste for opium in his child­hood while liv­ing in the East with his par­ents. Rust pro­pos­es that Princess Puffer was at one time Jasper’s nurse and that she un­wit­ting­ly in­tro­duced an opium “draught” into his milk as a way to soothe the pain he ex­pe­ri­enced from the heat of the ori­ent and from nor­mal child­hood com­plaints such as teething (98). Ac­cord­ing to Rust’s the­o­ry, Jasper’s par­ents would have even­tu­al­ly dis­cov­ered that the medicine con­tained opium and, in hor­ror, would have dis­missed the nurse. Rust won­ders whether Jasper’s crav­ing for the drug would have emerged later in life and what ef­fect the opium would have “on one of Jasper’s tem­per­a­ment — mu­si­cal and in­tro­spec­tive” (98). Rust’s the­o­ry is in­trigu­ing, but it re­mains pure­ly spec­u­la­tive be­cause the ex­tant text pro­vides few, if any, clues to sup­port it.

What other sit­u­a­tions or events might have driv­en Jasper to the opium dens? De Quincey points out that opium elim­i­nates hunger pains, and the opium woman, Princess Puffer, tells Jasper dur­ing the open­ing scene that opium “takes away the hunger as well as wit­tles [. . .]” (38). But from what Jasper tells Drood about the “pain” he has that leads him to take opium, it seems more like­ly that Jasper’s pain is not phys­i­cal, but emo­tion­al and psy­cho­log­i­cal (47). John Beer in “Edwin Drood and the Mys­tery of Apart­ness” re­in­forces the view that Jasper’s pain is emo­tion­al by sug­gest­ing that Jasper is im­pelled to visit the opium den by “a driv­ing force of the heart” (170). Fur­ther­more, Beer ex­plains that it is a “mis­di­rec­tion of this force — and the sub­se­quent need for re­lief that drives him to the opium den [. . .]” (170).

Beer’s ex­pla­na­tion of Jasper’s opium habit helps sup­port the idea that Jasper suf­fers from a wound to the psy­che, a wound for which opium pro­vides at least a tem­po­rary respite. But John S. DeWind notes that Jasper’s at­tempt to use opium as an es­cape from his emo­tion­al tor­ment para­dox­i­cal­ly leads him back to the very pain he is try­ing to es­cape. “[. . .] If Jasper finds free­dom in the un­con­scious,” DeWind as­serts, “his ex­pe­ri­ence of it oddly mir­rors his con­scious life, for at least in part his un­con­scious life is one of end­less and exact rep­e­ti­tion” (179). Opium be­comes for Jasper, then, a dou­ble-edged sword — one that pro­vides com­fort for a short time, but one that ul­ti­mate­ly leads him back to the painful re­al­i­ty of his monotonous life, be­cause the vi­sions it elic­its are a se­ries of rep­e­ti­tions of the same jour­ney, and the same event — the imag­ined mur­der of his nephew.

Per­haps Jasper did suf­fer a psy­cho­log­i­cal trau­ma that led him to take opium. Ac­cord­ing to von Franz, “a wound­ing of the per­son­al­i­ty and the suf­fer­ing that ac­com­pa­nies it” gen­er­al­ly ini­ti­ate the pro­cess of in­di­vid­u­a­tion (166). She adds that “this ini­tial shock amounts to a sort of ‘call,’ al­though it is not often rec­og­nized as such” (166). If in fact Jasper suf­fered such a wound, the ques­tion pre­sents it­self as to the na­ture of the wound. One may spec­u­late that it stems from his feel­ings of being trapped in a bor­ing and un­sat­is­fy­ing life. Jasper’s wound may also be ag­gra­vat­ed be­cause of the frus­tra­tion he feels when faced with the knowl­edge that Rosa is for­ev­er un­avail­able to him be­cause of her be­trothal to Edwin, a be­trothal ar­ranged by the par­ents of Rosa and Edwin when they were yet chil­dren. Ac­cord­ing to von Franz, once the wound to the per­son­al­i­ty has oc­curred, “the ego feels ham­pered in its will or its de­sire and usu­al­ly pro­jects the ob­struc­tion onto some­thing ex­ter­nal” (166). Jasper’s ego­tis­ti­cal de­sire to marry Rosa is frus­trat­ed by her be­trothal to Edwin, but rather than blame the par­ents who ar­ranged the en­gage­ment, Jasper blames Edwin. Thus, in Jasper’s view, Edwin has be­come the ex­ter­nal ob­sta­cle that pre­vents Jasper from open­ly woo­ing Rosa. Edwin’s in­sou­ciant at­ti­tude to­ward Rosa may also fur­ther ir­ri­tate the frus­trat­ed Jasper, who se­cret­ly lusts after his nephew’s fiancée. It must be frus­trat­ing for Jasper to be so madly in love with Rosa and yet be forced to stand by and watch his flip­pant nephew Edwin take her love for grant­ed. By pro­ject­ing onto Edwin his own frus­tra­tions rather than prop­er­ly in­te­grat­ing them, Jasper plunges deep­er into frag­men­ta­tion and dis­so­ci­a­tion of con­scious­ness.

Jasper’s frag­men­ta­tion is also il­lus­trat­ed by the iso­lat­ed life he choos­es to lead, much of it spent in his Gate House, which be­comes a tiny fortress where he bar­ri­cades him­self against the en­croach­ing world. Ja­cob­son notes the irony of this sit­u­a­tion, point­ing out that Jasper is “trapped as much by his inner life as by the nar­row lim­i­ta­tions of the cathe­dral precincts” (“Gen­e­sis” 200). At one point, the nar­ra­tor de­scribes Jasper’s Gate House as a light­house, where Jasper’s “lamp burns red be­hind his cur­tain” (154). Gen­er­al­ly, the image of a light­house has pos­i­tive con­no­ta­tions. Light­hous­es are sym­bols of hope and life, but the nar­ra­tor tells us that Jasper’s home stems “the tide of life” (154). How then could a wicked man’s home be anal­o­gous to a light­house? Charles Mitchell pro­vides an as­tute ex­pla­na­tion for this com­par­i­son in “The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood : The In­te­ri­or and Ex­te­ri­or of Self:”

It is ap­pro­pri­ate that Jasper’s dwelling be com­pared to a light­house, be­cause his soli­tary ex­is­tence is sit­u­at­ed on the dan­ger­ous line of de­mar­ca­tion be­tween inner and outer self. He lives a life at the edge of the land, the outer world; and that edge is the dan­ger zone for the self since there it be­gins con­tact with an in­im­i­cal outer world [. . .] or there it has to sub­mit its un­lim­it­ed dreams to the lim­its of a fi­nite re­al­i­ty [. . .]. (243) This ex­pla­na­tion also helps sup­port the con­tention that Jasper’s iso­lat­ed self is in dan­ger of con­tin­ued frag­men­ta­tion, be­cause he shows no signs of sub­mit­ting “to the lim­its of a fi­nite re­al­i­ty” but, rather, choos­es to en­cour­age the very fan­tasies that fuel his twist­ed de­sire to com­mit mur­der and thus break away from civ­i­lized moral con­straints. And, of course, the more he en­gages in his fan­tasies, the more alien­at­ed he be­comes from him­self and from his fel­low human be­ings.

Von Franz ar­gues that a crav­ing for iso­la­tion is yet an­oth­er fea­ture of the frag­ment­ed self (216). De Quincey also notes that a ha­bit­u­al user of opium “[. . .] nat­u­ral­ly seeks soli­tude and si­lence, as in­dis­pens­able con­di­tions of those trances, or pro­found­est rever­ies, which are the crown and con­sum­ma­tion of what opium can do for human na­ture” (43). He adds that “music even, [be­comes] too sen­su­al and gross” for those under the in­flu­ence of opium (43). De Quincey’s com­ment about music cer­tain­ly ap­plies to Jasper, who tells Drood how “dev­il­ish” the cathe­dral music sounds to him (Drood 48). In de­scrib­ing how un­bear­able the sound of music has be­come for him, Jasper re­veals yet an­oth­er way in which he is alien­at­ed even from him­self, in­so­far as the vo­ca­tion to which he once de­vot­ed his life has de­te­ri­o­rat­ed into noth­ing more than an an­noy­ing re­al­i­ty to be en­dured.

Over the course of sev­er­al months fol­low­ing Drood’s dis­ap­pear­ance, Jasper’s de­sire for iso­la­tion in­creas­es dra­mat­i­cal­ly. The nar­ra­tor de­scribes him as Im­pas­sive, moody, soli­tary, res­o­lute, con­cen­trat­ed on one idea, and on its at­ten­dant fixed pur­pose that he would share it with no fel­low crea­ture, he lived apart from human life. Con­stant­ly ex­er­cis­ing an Art which brought him into me­chan­i­cal har­mo­ny with oth­ers [. . .] it is cu­ri­ous to con­sid­er that the spir­it of the man was in moral ac­cor­dance or in­ter­change with noth­ing around him. (264)

This pas­sage il­lus­trates not only Jasper’s alien­ation from the com­mu­ni­ty, but also his mono­ma­ni­a­cal con­cen­tra­tion on his “one idea” that is stat­ed in his diary entry that he shows Crisparkle. Ac­cord­ing to that chill­ing entry, Jasper vows that he “never will relax in [. . .] [his] search;” that he “will fas­ten the crime of the mur­der [. . .] upon the mur­der­er” and that he “de­vote[s] [him]self to his de­struc­tion” (Drood 201). Ac­cord­ing to von Franz, the “dark side of the Self [. . .] can cause peo­ple to ‘spin’ mega­lo­ma­ni­ac or other delu­so­ry fan­tasies that catch them up and ‘pos­sess’ them” (216). Jasper is so pos­sessed. His psy­che suf­fers from frag­men­ta­tion to the de­gree that he is not able to ac­cept in his con­scious mind the awful truth that he is in fact the per­pe­tra­tor of the rep­re­hen­si­ble crime against Drood. He has, there­fore, woven a fan­ta­sy that com­pels him to pur­sue dogged­ly who­ev­er he imag­ines did com­mit the crime. Sym­bol­i­cal­ly, this is an at­tempt at self-in­te­gra­tion, for if Jasper could ac­cept the re­al­i­ty of his crime, he would come face to face with his true self. Von Franz points out that even the dark side of the self, once it has been ac­knowl­edged, can bring with it a wealth of in­sight (175). Von Franz also ob­serves that con­fronta­tion with and recog­ni­tion of “evil” is in­evitably a painful pro­cess, but one that is es­sen­tial to the con­tin­u­ing mat­u­ra­tion of the self (167).

Un­for­tu­nate­ly, in the ex­tant por­tion of Dick­ens’s final novel, Jasper never re­al­izes self-in­te­gra­tion. On the con­trary, there are sev­er­al in­stances in which his self- dis­in­te­gra­tion is strong­ly ev­i­dent. For ex­am­ple, when Rosa’s guardian, Hiram Grew­gious, de­liv­ers the news to Jasper that Drood and Rosa have bro­ken their en­gage­ment on the very day that Drood has dis­ap­peared, Jasper falls in “a heap of torn and miry clothes upon the floor” (Drood 192). Lawrence Frank, com­ment­ing on this scene, ex­plains that Jasper at this point “un­der­goes a pro­cess of total dis­in­te­gra­tion, col­laps­ing into the abyss of his self” (226). The news means, of course, that Jasper had no rea­son to mur­der his nephew. Frank ob­serves that Jasper’s “iden­ti­ty, frag­ile and con­fused as it is, has been de­fined by the bizarre tri­an­gle unit­ing Rosa, Drood, and him­self . . .” (226). Now, how­ev­er, Frank con­tin­ues, “with the dis­ap­pear­ance of Drood and with the break­ing of his en­gage­ment to Rosa, the en­tire ed­i­fice — so in­vert­ed, fan­tas­tic, and self-de­struc­tive — col­laps­es” (226).

Jasper is in­deed a com­plex char­ac­ter. In his pos­i­tive roles he is choir­mas­ter, music teach­er, and guardian to Drood. But his sin­is­ter side re­veals that he is a hyp­ocrite, a mes­merist (a topic that will be more fully ex­plored in the next chap­ter), and a drug ad­dict, who en­gages in rit­u­al­is­tic fan­tasies of death and ex­e­cu­tion, fan­tasies that para­dox­i­cal­ly, as Lawrence Frank points out, both “sus­tain” and “tor­ment” him (227). Jasper re­flects the most neg­a­tive as­pects of Vic­to­ri­an cul­ture — its hypocrisy and du­al­i­ty, its re­pres­sive na­ture, and its de­bil­i­tat­ing malaise. But Jasper moves be­yond mere hypocrisy, re­pres­sion, and ennui into a dark­er realm of psy­chosis, mega­lo­ma­nia, and utter frag­men­ta­tion. Through his opium use he may be at­tempt­ing to es­cape the con­straints of Vic­to­ri­an so­ci­ety, but he can never es­cape the labyrinth of the self. 2 He is in­ca­pable of achiev­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal mat­u­ra­tion and in­di­vid­u­a­tion be­cause he fails to iden­ti­fy the real na­ture of his quest, which, in Jun­gian terms, is to ex­plore the labyrinth of the psy­che in search of his true self and, as a re­sult of that jour­ney, ul­ti­mate­ly dis­cov­er some sense of order and har­mo­ny.