3. The Sun, Moon and Stars

Edwin Drood died on the day cel­e­brat­ing the re­birth of the sun, but the Win­ter and Sum­mer Sol­stices are too close­ly linked with Pa­gan­ism and sun-wor­ship for the Chris­tian Dick­ens to have tied events in Drood to them too close­ly. So while MED abounds in ref­er­ences to ce­les­tial bod­ies, fire, time (and clocks), tides, stones, dirt and dust and ev­ery­thing ‘earthy’, trees and woods of all va­ri­eties and the pro­duce of fruit­ful Na­ture — though, typ­i­cal­ly, a good deal of this boun­ty is boxed up tight in Crisparkle’s clos­et — and is fix­at­ed on the eter­nal cy­cles of moon/sun, dark­ness/light, win­ter/sum­mer, de­struc­tion fol­lowed by re­birth/re­newed life (“as cer­tain­ly as night fol­lows day”, says Jasper) — all are sub­tly evoked from a safe, non-sun-wor­ship­ping dis­tance.

As the year’s short­est (most re­pressed) day and the be­gin­ning of the re­pres­sive sea­son of win­ter, the Win­ter Sol­stice met Dick­ens’s the­mat­ic needs ex­act­ly — par­tic­u­lar­ly as such ce­les­tial­ly-in­duced re­trac­tion is fol­lowed by Na­ture cut­ting loose and burst­ing forth in sum­mery glory.

Crisparkle: “This is the first day of the week ... and the last day of the week is Christ­mas Eve”. So De­cem­ber 25 is a Sun-day.

Split­ting Drood into two parts — be­fore and after mid­night De­cem­ber 24 (just be­fore the end of Chap­ter 15) — pro­duces some in­ter­est­ing search re­sults.

A search for ‘sun’ in Part One (ig­nor­ing all gen­er­al, non-sea­son­al ref­er­ences) finds:

‘Not only is the day wan­ing, but the year. The low sun is fiery but cold’, ‘by the de­clin­ing sun’, ‘red­dened by the sun­set’, ‘faced the wind at sun­set’, ‘or at all events, when the sun is down’, ‘the wes­t­er­ing sun be­stowed bright glances on it ... Nei­ther wind nor sun, how­ev­er, favoured Sta­ple Inn’, ‘the sun dipped in the river’.

So the sun is in con­stant de­cline, and even, in the final ci­ta­tion, in ‘dan­ger’ of being ex­tin­guished.

In Part Two, how­ev­er, after the Win­ter Sol­stice, the sun no longer sinks. There’s not even one more sun­set. In­stead, the sun rises. Sep­ti­mus Crisparkle ‘was back again at sun­rise’.

Jasper (in Part One): “It is hard­ly worth his while to pluck the gold­en fruit that hangs ripe on the tree for him”. The Tree of the Gold­en Ap­ples (given by Earth god­dess Gaia to the wife of Zeus) was tend­ed by the Hes­perides, three Sun­set God­dess­es.

A close link is made be­tween the sun and life and health:

  • ‘But no trace of Edwin Drood re­vis­it­ed the light of the sun.’
  • ‘For still no trace of Edwin Drood re­vis­it­ed the light of the sun.’
  • Mr Tar­tar, who’s burst­ing with health and vigour, is con­tin­u­al­ly re­ferred to as ‘sun­burnt’. Rosa, too, is a ‘sunny lit­tle crea­ture [who Jasper wor­ships] ... abid­ing in the place to keep it bright and warm in its de­ser­tion’. She also brings sun­shine into Mr Grew­gious’s life (stir­ring new life in him) “and makes [his room] Glo­ri­ous!” [i.e. bright and sunny as in ‘a glo­ri­ous day’.]
  • ‘[Lob­ley] was the dead image of the sun in old wood­cuts, his hair and whiskers an­swer­ing for rays all around him’.
  • Crisparkle to Neville: “I want more sun to shine upon you”.
  • And again: “She has to draw you into the sun­light”.
  • He­le­na: “My poor Neville is read­ing in his own room, the sun being so very bright on this side just now” — one of a num­ber of in­di­ca­tions that Neville isn’t des­tined to live out the book i.e. he moves out of the light of the sun. In­deed, he only emerges from his rooms at night.
  • ‘Lit­tle Rickitts (a ju­nior of weak­ly con­sti­tu­tion)’. And what caus­es the bone-soft­en­ing dis­ease known as rick­ets? Not get­ting enough sun­light.
  • ‘They pre­ferred air and light to Fever and the Plague.’
  • ‘Gold­en drinks ... ripened long ago in lands where no fogs are, and had since lain slum­ber­ing in the shade. Sparkling and tin­gling ... pushed at their corks ... like pris­on­ers help­ing ri­ot­ers to force their gates ... Glow­ing vin­tages ...’ Wine as ‘bot­tled up’ sun­shine which, when taken in small mea­sure, has re­viv­ing and cu­ra­tive prop­er­ties e.g. Con­stan­tia. (R L Steven­son rewrites this even more ex­plic­it­ly in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: ‘Wine that had long dwelt un­sunned in the foun­da­tions of his house ... the glow of hot au­tumn af­ter­noons on hill­side vine­yards was ready to be set free and to dis­perse the fogs of Lon­don.’)

There are just 76 oc­cur­rences of ‘moon­li’ (which finds both moon­light and moon­lit) in the al­most 4,000,000 words of Dick­ens’s other 14 nov­els. In Part One of Drood (less than 60,000 words) there are 22. And in Part Two ... none at all! Moon­light van­ish­es en­tire­ly — re­placed by stars and starlight (which them­selves, like ‘day­light’, don’t occur in Part One). In­deed, apart from Mr Tar­tar’s ‘best-or­dered cham­bers ever seen under the sun, moon, and stars’, all 29 in­stances of ‘moon’ fall in Part One, the sea­son when moon­light hours grow pre­dom­i­nant. (Deuteron­o­my 4.19: ‘And lest ... when you see the sun and the moon and the stars ... you are drawn away and wor­ship them, and serve them’.) Even the two pas­sages that re­call The Moon­stone are in the first part of the novel. (The word ‘moon’ oc­curs 28 times in Part One and 29 times in total. In­ter­est­ing num­bers ...)

There are two men­tions of Mon­day (Moon’s day) in the novel. Both re­late to Neville. So is he more at­tuned to the moon than the sun?

Neville: “... and Clois­ter­ham being so old and grave and beau­ti­ful, with the moon shin­ing on it — these things in­clined me to open my heart.” ‘Some wild­ly pas­sion­ate ideas of the river dis­solve under the spell of the moon­light on the Cathe­dral and the graves ...’ Ad­mit­ted­ly, these ex­tracts give false em­pha­sis as other rea­sons for Neville’s ac­tions are given, but they are sug­ges­tive. And if, in the com­plet­ed novel, they’d been matched by sim­i­lar in­stances ...

There’s no ce­les­tial globe in any of Dick­ens’s other nov­els, but such an ap­po­site ob­ject could hard­ly be omit­ted from Drood, so great play is made of Miss Twin­kle­ton pos­sess­ing one.

‘Miss Twin­kle­ton then said: “Ladies, an­oth­er re­volv­ing year”. [It’s no co­in­ci­dence, I think, that Drood was in­tend­ed to be pub­lished in 12 month­ly parts.]

Be­fore clock­work, time was mea­sured by track­ing the sun. ‘Sol­stice’ means ‘sun stand still’ or ‘sun stop’ and thus ‘time stop’. On De­cem­ber 25 in Drood, me­chan­i­cal de­vices for mea­sur­ing time stop too. ‘It is ... seen that the hands of the Cathe­dral clock are torn off’, and Edwin Drood’s watch had ‘run down, be­fore being cast into the water’. (Fig­u­ra­tive­ly, sol­stice means a stop­ping-point.)

Janus — with whom Jasper is par­al­leled — was often de­pict­ed in the Roman era bear­ing gold and sil­ver keys. These were to lock and un­lock the sol­stice gates — called Janua Celi and Janua In­fer­ni. In other words, Janus is the door­keep­er who opens and clos­es the ce­les­tial cycle of the win­ter and sum­mer sol­stices. He’s also a Solar God of Dawn.

Na­ture is woven into the fab­ric of Drood, in­clud­ing into Clois­ter­ham’s Cathe­dral via sun­light, moon­light, the sea (metaphor­i­cal­ly) and, most no­tably, in the oft-quot­ed pas­sage: ‘A bril­liant morn­ing shines on the old city. Its an­tiq­ui­ties and ruins are sur­pass­ing­ly beau­ti­ful, with a lusty ivy gleam­ing in the sun, and the rich trees wav­ing in the balmy air. Changes of glo­ri­ous light from mov­ing boughs, songs of birds, scents from gar­dens, woods, and fields — or, rather, from the one great gar­den of the whole cul­ti­vat­ed is­land in its yield­ing time — pen­e­trate into the Cathe­dral, sub­due its earthy odour, and preach the Res­ur­rec­tion and the Life’.

The names of near­ly all the char­ac­ters have a link with na­ture and/or el­e­ments as­so­ci­at­ed with the Sol­stices (such as fer­til­i­ty): Sap Sea, [Land]less, Honey Thun­der, Ed[win D][rood] (rood was a plot of land ap­prox­i­mate­ly the size of a quar­ter of an acre), Cri[sparkle] and [Twin­kle]ton (sug­gest­ing light and stars), Bil­lickin (means a ‘dip­per’ and at the end of the han­dle of the Dip­per (a clus­ter of seven stars in Ursa Minor) is Po­laris, the North Star, which marks the po­si­tion of the north ce­les­tial pole), Hi[ram] (the con­stel­la­tion and zo­di­a­cal sign Aries, be­gin­ning 21 March, the day of the ver­nal equinox) [Grew]gious, Tope (grove of trees and mound or bar­row; also a provin­cial name for a wren, which is a bird sym­bol­ic of the wan­ing year), Tar­tar (burn­ing bar­rels of tar were often rolled down hills at the Sol­stice), Lob Ley (‘lob’ is a nugget of gold (and gold, in an­cient times, was uni­ver­sal­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with the sun) and ‘ley’ is un­tilled land), Datch­ery (rhymes with hatch­ery), Tish­er (trans­pose the ‘T’ and it’s as close to Ishtar, god­dess of fer­til­i­ty and sex­u­al love as Dick­ens could get with­out mak­ing it bla­tant) and Jasper (a gem­stone in­cor­po­rat­ing a poi­sonous snake: J[asp]er). Nick­names: Stony, Rose­bud (the rose is an em­blem of the sun and dawn), Eddy, Wild Boy, China Shep­herdess and, in a delet­ed pas­sage, Tar­tar calls Lob­ley “a Tri­ton” (the son of Nep­tune). Al­ter­na­tive names con­sid­ered: Wake­field, Brood, Pep­tune (sug­ges­tive of Nep­tune, deity of the sea), Olympia (site in an­cient Greece that was the chief sanc­tu­ary of Zeus, a sky and weath­er god) Heyridge.

There are many types of trees and woods men­tioned in Drood, let’s con­sid­er just one, the elm: ‘To such as these, it has hap­pened in their dying hours afar off, that they have imag­ined their cham­ber-floor to be strewn with the au­tum­nal leaves fall­en from the elm-trees in the Close [The elm is tra­di­tion­al­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with death (in Oliv­er Twist and Mar­tin Chuz­zle­wit it’s a cof­fin-tim­ber), but also with re­birth]: so have the rustling sounds and fresh scents of their ear­li­est im­pres­sions re­vived when the cir­cle of their lives was very near­ly traced, and the be­gin­ning and the end were draw­ing close to­geth­er’.

Apart from its as­so­ci­a­tion with death (a gate­way be­tween our world and the Un­der­world), the elm is also said to be the abode of fairies. So for the part­ing be­tween ‘fairy bride’ Rosa and Edwin, under the mur­der­ous gaze of Jasper, there could only be one set­ting: ‘When they came among the elm-trees by the Cathe­dral, where they had last sat to­geth­er, they stopped as by con­sent ... [and] kissed each other fer­vent­ly. “Don't look round, Rosa ... Didn't you see Jack?” “No! Where?” “Under the trees. He saw us, as we took leave of each other”.

Delet­ed text: ‘“At Christ­mas? Cer­tain­ly. O dear yes, I set­tled with her that I would come back at Christ­mas,” replied Mr Grew­gious, as if the ques­tion had pre­vi­ous­ly lain be­tween Lady Day, Mid­sum­mer Day, and Michael­mas’. All are quar­ter days (close to the sol­stices and equinox­es) when pay­ment of rent falls due, so Hiram Grew­gious’s life, as a pro­fes­sion­al Re­ceiv­er of rents, re­volves around sea­son­al change, but — and this is the point, of course — in a man­ner whol­ly di­vorced from na­ture. And na­ture it­self has been crushed vir­tu­al­ly out of ex­is­tence in smog­gy Lon­don, ‘where a few feet of gar­den-mould and a few yards of grav­el en­able ... a few smoky spar­rows ... in smoky trees ... to play at coun­try’ — bloom­ing only in Mr Tar­tar’s flow­er-boxes. Even in Clois­ter­ham there’s a ‘stamped-out gar­den’, a ‘poor strip of gar­den’, ‘railed-off’ and ‘stone-walled’ gar­dens and ‘what was once a gar­den, but is now the thor­ough­fare’. Man’s ac­tiv­i­ties, alas, all too often lead to Na­ture being re­pressed: ‘The ev­er­last­ing­ly-green gar­den seemed to be left for ev­er­last­ing, un­re­gain­able and far away’.

Edwin: “Hip, hip, hip, and nine times nine”. This con­flates two iron­ic al­lu­sions: ‘No three times three and hip-hip-hips, Be­cause I’m ripe and full of pips — I like a lit­tle green. To put me on my solemn oath, If sweep-like I could stop my growth I would re­main, and noth­ing loath, A boy — about nine­teen’. Edwin’s growth is very soon about to be stopped, but not in the way that was meant. “Nine times nine” is taken from a witch’s speech in Mac­beth: “Weary sev’nnights nine times nine shall he dwin­dle, peak, and pine”. And why? Be­cause the witch­es in­tend to whip up a wind that’ll keep the sailor out of port. (Mac­beth acts on the in­for­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by the witch­es and that’s his tragedy, Edwin fails to act on Princess Puffer’s (warn­ing about Jasper) and that’s his. The opium woman and the ‘Weird women’ are par­al­leled, of course e.g. she looks at Jasper ‘with a weird peep’ and is as ‘with­ered as one of the fan­tas­tic carv­ings on the ... stall seats’, which echoes “What are these, So with­ered ... That look not like th' in­hab­i­tants o'th' earth ... ... Are ye fan­tas­ti­cal ...”)

1st Witch: When shall we three meet again?

2nd Witch: When the hurly-burly's done ...

3rd Witch: That will be ere the set of sun.

‘When Shall These Three Meet Again?’ asks a chap­ter head­ing in Drood. In­vert the an­swer in Mac­beth and you get: ‘That won’t be after the rise of the sun’. And so it proves. Jasper, Neville and Edwin dine on Christ­mas Eve and, come sun­rise Christ­mas morn­ing, never meet again.

Edwin: “But I shall be here, off and on, until next Mid­sum­mer; then I shall take my leave of Clois­ter­ham, and Eng­land too”. He’s off “to wake up Egypt a lit­tle”.

The im­por­tance of the Sum­mer Sol­stice to the An­cient Egyp­tians can hard­ly be over­stat­ed. They not only wor­shipped a Sun-god, but the an­nu­al over­flow of the Nile, with­out which they were dead meat, also oc­curred on (or with­in days) of the Sol­stice.

Edwin: “Why should she be such a ... goose, as to hate the Pyra­mids, Rosa?” “Ah! you should hear Miss Twin­kle­ton ... Tire­some old bury­ing-grounds! Isis­es, and Ibis­es, and Cheopses, and Pharaohses”. To the Egyp­tians, the Pyra­mid was a ‘hill of light’, quite lit­er­al­ly so; faced in white lime­stone with a gold­en cap­stone, it daz­zling­ly re­flect­ed the sun — the gen­er­a­tive power of which it was sym­bol­ic of. The goose, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the sun, was an em­blem of the soul of the pharaohs. And goose sac­ri­fices at the time of the Win­ter Sol­stice sym­bol­ised the re­turn­ing sun. Isis was a god­dess of the moon and moth­er of Horus (born at about the time of the Win­ter Sol­stice) who was the son of Sun-god Osiris. An ibis was the bird as­so­ci­at­ed with Thoth, a god of the moon, and it was this ibis-head­ed god who helped Isis dur­ing her preg­nan­cy. Cheops pro­claimed him­self a liv­ing Sun-god, un­like pre­vi­ous Pharaohs who, al­though con­sid­er­ing them­selves a rein­car­na­tion of Horus, be­lieved that they be­came a Sun-god (Osiris) only after death.

Sep­ti­mus Crisparkle (who has ‘ra­di­ant fea­tures’) is twice as­so­ci­at­ed with the hawk. He has ‘hawk’s eyes’ and ‘it was hawked through the late in­quiries by Mr. Crisparkle’. In Egyp­tian mythol­o­gy, the hawk/fal­con was the sa­cred bird of the hawk-head­ed Sun-god Horus. Horus is the man-god most close­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with Jesus, so link­ing Crisparkle with him cer­tain­ly met Dick­ens’s cri­te­ria of mak­ing his al­lu­sions iron­ic. ‘Sep­ti­mus, be­cause six lit­tle broth­er Crisparkles be­fore him went out, one by one, as they were born, like six weak lit­tle rush­lights, as they were light­ed.’ (Is it a co­in­ci­dence that a ray of sun­light is made up of seven sep­a­rate colours?) Sep­ti­mus’s moth­er short­ens his Chris­tian name to Sept. Sept was one of the Egyp­tian names for Sir­ius, the bright­est star in the sky. No sur­prise, then, that when Crisparkle goes to the Weir, ‘It was starlight’. To the An­cient Egyp­tians, Sir­ius (thought to de­rive from the Greek word ‘Sirio’ which means ‘sparkling’) was the sec­ond most im­por­tant ce­les­tial body. No­tably, it was close­ly linked with Isis and Horus. ‘Horus who is in Sept/Sir­ius’ [Pyra­mid Text, line 632].

“Do you keep a cat down there?” asked Mr. Grew­gious. Edwin coloured a lit­tle as he ex­plained: “I call Rosa Pussy”. Later: “I haz­ard the guess that her dear name [Pussy] ... is pre­served sa­cred”. So ‘Pussy’ is pre­served sa­cred and Sa­cred Cat is the name of Bast, the Egyp­tian Cat god­dess (daugh­ter of Isis), who rep­re­sents the life-giv­ing power of the sun. One the­o­ry as to why we call a cat puss or pussy is be­cause of Bast (which is pro­nounced Pasht) and its vari­a­tions. She was the pro­tec­tress of women, moth­ers and chil­dren, so, nat­u­ral­ly, Rosa is a girl who brings out the pro­tec­tive in­stinct in oth­ers. He­le­na’s ‘wild black hair fell down pro­tect­ing­ly over the child­ish form’, Rosa felt ‘pro­tect­ed by the in­ter­po­si­tion of Mr. Grew­gious be­tween her­self and [Jasper]’, ‘again rises to ... seek pro­tec­tion with­in the house’, ‘under Joe's pro­tec­tion’, to Mr Grew­gious, “I have come to you to pro­tect me”.

Bast (or Bastet when in half-fe­line, half-human form) was called the Lady of Truth. But the only time Rosa speaks of ‘truth’, she says, “you forced me, for his own trust­ing, good, good sake, to keep the truth from him”.

Bastet means ‘de­vour­ing lady’. Mr. Grew­gious gives Rosa re­as­sur­ance that she won’t be de­voured by fire: “Any out­break of the de­vour­ing el­e­ment would be sup­pressed by the watch­men”.

Human sac­ri­fices were made to Bastet but in Drood it’s Rosa/Bastet who “is sac­ri­ficed in being be­stowed upon [Edwin]”. And ‘Miss Twin­kle­ton ... turns to the sac­ri­fice, and says, “You may go down, my dear.” Miss Bud goes down’. (Jasper of­fers to lay sac­ri­fices at sunny Rosa’s feet, but the sac­ri­fices he of­fers to make in­volve the gift of life i.e. not seek­ing Neville’s death.) 

Click here for in­for­ma­tion about the close link be­tween cats and the sun and moon, and for de­tails about Bastet. The Egyp­tian cobra is men­tioned in con­nec­tion with Horus. Re­mem­ber that it’s also known as an asp. (It’s not Crisparkle/Horus who’s in dan­ger of los­ing an eye in Drood, of course. Deputy to Jasper: “I'll smash your eye, if you don't look out!”)

Sep­ti­mus is unattached at the book’s be­gin­ning, but He­le­na is clear­ly des­tined to be Sept’s lady by the end — and ‘Lady of Sept’ was the ap­pel­la­tion of Egyp­tian god­dess Pakhet.

Pakhet’s name trans­lates as ‘the tear­er’. Neville: “My sis­ter would have let him tear her to pieces, be­fore she would have let him be­lieve that he could make her shed a tear”. And: “I re­mem­ber, when I lost the pock­et-knife with which she was to have cut her hair short, how des­per­ate­ly she tried to tear it out”. So ‘the tear­er’ tore her­self.

Pakhet was called the “night huntress”. Neville and He­le­na have ‘a cer­tain air upon them of hunter and huntress; yet with­al a cer­tain air of being the ob­jects of the chase, rather than the fol­low­ers’.

Pakhet is gen­er­al­ly re­gard­ed as the Mid­dle Egyp­tian equiv­a­lent of the Upper Egyp­tian Sun and Fire god­dess Sekhmet, who was rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the de­struc­tive power of the sun. ‘There was a slum­ber­ing gleam of fire in [He­le­na’s] in­tense dark eyes ...’

In An­cient Egypt, scarabs were often carved out of jasper. Scarabs are per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Khep­ri, a Sun-god of dawn and cre­ation, but in Drood Jasper is the ob­verse of light and life. He’s as­so­ci­at­ed with dark­ness, black­ness and shad­ow.

Crisparkle: “I have a de­praved de­sire to turn Heav­en’s crea­tures into swine and wild beasts”. A feat ac­com­plished in Greek leg­end by Circe (who has links with the hawk). Hecate, her most fa­mous myth­i­cal moth­er, was God­dess of the New Moon (and ap­pears in Mac­beth) and her fa­ther was Sun-god He­lios. Circe could blot out the sun and moon by en­chant­ing the clouds and was a Moon god­dess her­self. In fact, near­ly all the gods and god­dess­es named or al­lud­ed to in Drood have links with the sun, the moon and/or fer­til­i­ty, even those (such as the Graces) not com­mon­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with such.

There are two men­tions of a ‘hole in the wall’ in Drood: ‘Re­pair­ing to Dur­dles’s un­fin­ished house, or hole in the city wall’ and ‘the Verg­er’s hole-in-the-wall’. The pas­sage in the Bible that gives the most ex­plic­it ac­count of sun-wor­ship­ping Pa­gans is in Ezekiel 8. And how does the nar­ra­tor ob­tain ac­cess to the shock­ing sights?

7 ‘when I looked, be­hold a hole in the wall.

10 So I went in and saw; and be­hold every form of creep­ing things, and abom­inable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Is­rael, por­trayed upon the wall round about.

14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD's house which was to­ward the north; and, be­hold, there sat women weep­ing for Tam­muz. [A god of fer­til­i­ty — sym­bol of death and re­birth in na­ture — and the spouse of Ishtar.]

16 And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD's house, and, be­hold, at the door of the tem­ple of the LORD ... were about five and twen­ty men with their backs to­ward the tem­ple of Yah­weh, and their faces to­ward the east; and they were wor­ship­ping the sun to­ward the east.’

After Edwin Drood’s dis­ap­pear­ance, there’s a re­mark­ably long break in the ac­tion. When the nar­ra­tive picks up again a full six months have past. Jasper doesn’t con­front Rosa in the gar­den on the Sum­mer Sol­stice, though; it’s be­tween Mid­sum­mer Day and Old Mid­sum­mer Day. (‘Clois­ter­ham is so bright and sunny in these sum­mer days ... be­tween hay­mak­ing time and har­vest.’)

Hav­ing un­leashed his ‘mad vi­o­lence’ against Edwin at mid­win­ter, Jasper now, ap­pro­pri­ate­ly, gives vent to his ‘mad’ love for Rosa at mid­sum­mer. In­deed, he tells her that he loves her ‘madly’ a full seven times (a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber in Drood).

Dur­ing mid­sum­mer the sun is at its strongest and bright­est and it blazes down in the ‘Shad­ow on the Sun-Dial’ chap­ter.

Isa­iah 38:7.8: ‘And this is the sign to you from the Lord [Jasper: “Give me a sign that you at­tend to me”], that the Lord will do this thing which He has spo­ken: Be­hold, I will bring the shad­ow on the sun­di­al, which has gone down with the sun on the sun­di­al of Ahaz, ten de­grees back­ward. So the sun re­turned ten de­grees on the dial by which it had gone down’. [God putting the clock back. The op­po­site of which would be a devil putting a time­piece for­ward. And if Jasper moved the hand on Edwin’s watch for­ward would that have wound it down pre­ma­ture­ly, so that it could be thrown in the Weir at once? Did Jasper also en­sure that he had an alibi for the hours after the time when the watch would have run it­self down nor­mal­ly, ‘prov­ing’ that he couldn’t have dis­posed of Edwin’s jew­ellery or, con­se­quent­ly, have been the mur­der­er? Why, after all, is the wind­ing up and down of the watch made so much of? The idea (and Dick­ens’s clue to it) is won­der­ful­ly in­ge­nious and would have served ad­mirably to baf­fle Jasper’s pur­suers.]

In light of all the above, and of Dick­ens’s love of Shake­speare, Drood was bound to be in­flu­enced by A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream. And so it was. To a sur­pris­ing ex­tent.

A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream