The Ending of The Mystery of Edwin Drood – Updated 02/01/12
Edwin Drood – dead (standing by this)
- Resting comfortably in the Sapsea vault
John Jasper – choirmaster and murderer!
- Murdered his own nephew in an opium induced fog
- hid the body in Sapsea’s tomb after drugging and quizzing Durdles
- Made a mistake when he threw the watch and pin into the lake – didn’t know about the RING!
- Jasper is found out when Datchery follows him to the vault after Jasper learns of the missing ring. He plans to retrieve the ring in order to pay off Princess Puffer.
- Unfortunately, he disappears in the night before he is brought to account
Princess Puffer – opium witch and blackmailer
- Finds out about Jasper’s murder of his nephew in one of his moments of “unintelligible” opium induced mutterings.
- Begins to blackmail him to keep his addiction and his murderous secret quiet.
Mr. Tartar – sailor with a history in Ceylon? (hold on this one’s wild and maybe a bit too fairytale ending for Dickens)
- Is the Landless twins’ actual father.
- Their mother had an affair with Tartar which resulted in the twins’ birth after which she married their stepfather and promptly died.
- He only discovered their existence when he retired from sailing and returned to Ceylon in hopes of finding their mother to travel to England with him to claim his inheritance.
- He claims to live in London to avoid all the rambling spaces of his new property, but I think he’s there looking for his children.
Neville Landless – is cleared and lives happily ever after with Rosebud
- Jasper is discovered for a murderer and Landless is cleared.
- Crisparkle has remained faithful to him and works to continue Neville’s education.
- Neville eventually goes to work for Grewgious as an assistant when Mr. Bazzard’s play is bought and produced!
Helena Landless – relentless pursuer of justice
- On the morning that Jasper is discovered missing, Helena packs her meager things and immediately begins a pursuit of the man who tried to ruin her brother.
- Dick Datchery joins her quest – he has his own bone to pick with Jasper.
Dick Datchery – determined to pursue and destroy Jasper
- in disguise because Jasper killed his brother in London (remember the opium den and visions of phantom knives and impalings)
- follows Jasper back to Cloisterham and begins to see his vengeance
- follows Jasper to the Sapsea’s tomb and discovers Edwin’s body.
- he and Helena strike out the morning after Jasper disappears to chase their own vengeance on him.
These are just some thoughts and ideas about how I would like to see some things end up. I may be confused and WAAAAYYY off track – so don’t judge.
The Myster of Edwin Drood
I cannot ignore the ever present rooks throughout the novel. Chapter II, our first introduction to Cloisterham, opens with the image of a “sedate and clerical bird, the rook” winging its way home, just as Jasper returns from his trip to the Opium den in London. The references to rooks continue by playing on the term to refer to a position in the clergy and a possibly bad guy (con artist). Jasper is immediately associated with both definitions for the term rook. Rooks are found and consistently forshadow the coming of potential evil.
Durdle’s trip to the tombs with Jasper was also denoted with the appearance of a rook. A “frightened rook precedes the heavy beating of wings in a confined space, and the beating down of dust and straws upon their heads.” That sounds like a struggle – potentially mimicing or foreshadowing a struggle that did or might occur. Does the rook mimic Jasper’s murder of Edwin?
One of the most memorable parts where rooks and nature came into play was in Chapter XIV. On the night that Edwin disappears, a raging storm blows through Cloisterham, and ”great ragged fragments from the rooks’ nests” were tossed around by the storm. Is this referring to the “rook’s nest” that is Jasper’s home because this is the very evening that Ned has disappeared and been torn from the “rook’s nest”?
I was wrong! As the story continues to unfold, it has occurred to me that my perceptions of characters are radically changing. I have come to realize that my initial perceptions were undeniably colored by my own bias towards and against certain societal issues. I have always thought of myself as a somewhat objective observer when I read, but Mr. Dickens has forced me to reexamine how I read. He set me up to think one thing of characters only to force me to change my assumptions midstream and cause me to doubt what I thought I knew. Was I seeing what Mr. Dickens was presenting or what I viewing these characters through my own lens of bias?
The Boffins – Fools or Saints?
When I first met Noddy Boffin, I fell very nicely into Mr. Dickens’ trap of assuming Boffin to be ridiculous and foolish in his newly acquired wealth. I also laughed at Mrs. Boffin’s ridiculousness in her feathered hat which caught fire as Wegg read, but as I read Chapter VIII, I saw them demonstrating dedication and loyalty, feeling out of place in their new status, and having an immense sense of justice and morality. Because of these new revelations, I found myself questioning my judgment of the characters I felt I knew at that point. Did my admiration for those who dedicate themselves to making a living by their own means and determination cause me to dislike the Boffins because I assumed that they inherited Harmon’s money as a fluke and not a reward for service? After the insight into the Boffins’ history with Old Man Harmon, my opinion of them swelled to admiration before Dickens even had an opportunity to reveal their plans to invite Bella in and adopt an orphan so that a child can have the advantages the John Harmon should have had. These magnanimous offerings concreted my view of the Boffins as just this side of saintly. I also love that the Boffins don’t want to step into a world they don’t care for just because there is an expectation that they do so. They want to live and be “comfortable,” which is far more admirable to me than striving to be better than others.
Gaffer Hexam – Unsung Hero or Undeniable Villan?
Because of my admiration for those who work hard at whatever their endeavor, I may have misjudged Gaffer Hexam as well. I had no suspicion of him, even after Riderhood’s accusation. This may have been a result of Gaffer’s impassioned denial or it may have been my bias in his favor because his job is incredibly unsavory but he does it with such apparent pride – he remembers each of his “finds” and keeps complete records by maintaining the police flyers. There is something admirable in his work, even though it may be deplorable to some. I must say as a citizen of London, I would have probably been glad of people like Gaffer who fished bodies out of the river (even if they did relieve the body of some possessions); otherwise, the Thames would have been decidedly worse than it already was. However, again I may have been wrong about Gaffer. This man beats his own son and begrudges him the opportunity to better himself. Those are pretty damning facts, but even in the knowledge of these unsavory details, I find myself trying to make excuses for Gaffer – maybe he fears that Charley will discover that he can’t belong to the other world and that by preventing him from seeing that as a possibility, he prevents inevitable disappointment. However, the one thing that my admiration for his work ethic cannot overcome is his own daughter’s suspicions. She knows him better than anyone, and if she is suspicious, it is not without reason. I must look more carefully at him as a potential villain if I am to follow Mr. Dickens’ trail of intrigue.
I was so incredibly moved by the scene in Chapter X where Crisparkle explains heartbreak to Neville, and then the most wonderful example of devotion follows between Helena and Neville.
“It is not known to the young lady…?”
Crisparkle explains (almost as one who has been there) the ins and outs of living with the disappointment of a secret love. Even though Neville is young, Crisparkle is respectful of Neville’s inner torment and does not dismiss or belittle his feeling by patting him on the shoulder and saying all will be well. He explains that pain caused by a secret love will not soon pass – that it will be a lasting pain. I also love that he doesn’t disregard Neville’s love for Rosa by suggesting that because he is young, he can expect it to “rise and fall …every hour.” Crisparkle beautifully and respectfully tells him that the pain he is experiencing “has few parallels or none, and that it will abide … a long time… and will be difficult to conquer.” This explanation is delivered with such confidence and such passion that the reader cannot help but suspect that Crisparkle is speaking from experience, not from theory.
“Follow your guide now, Neville,” murmured Helena, “and follow him to heaven!”
This line nearly moved me to tears with its expression of devotion and love between the brother and sister. Helena is absolutely on her brother’s side, even in the knowledge that he had not handled the altercation in the best possible way. However, this line reveals her willingness to put aside pride for the betterment of her brother and to support his quest to tame the “tiger” in his blood. Crisparkle also points out that Helena can contribute to her brother’s rehabilitation of nature because she has the “wisdom of love.” What a great line!! Helena’s guidance of Neville is ever motivated by love of her brother – there can be no truer motive.
Victorian England – OMF
- was a time of the growth of the middle class and new wealth as evidenced by the Veneerings and the Boffins. Dickens seemed to make fun of those who are the “neuvo riche” as evidenced by the ridiculousness of the Veneerings (of course, we don’t know that his commentary isn’t more the source of their income rather than their newly acquired wealth.)
- contains the struggles of families regardless of their social class. The Harmon family with its division over the choice of sister’s husband mimics the division over the choice of Charley’s learning.
- social gatherings were essential to their societal fabric, not only upper class but lower classes were just as dependent. The Veneering know that the only way to gain a foothold in “polite society” is by throwing dinner parties and inviting all the right people. The same is true for the patrons of the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters. The roughest chracters Londan has to offer live in fear of being exiled from this run down shack; however, this run down shack represents and helps the maintain their social status.
- education was a way of improving one’s potential, maybe even one’s social class. However, as represented by Gaffer Hexam’s reaction to Charley’s schooling, it was also seen by some as an attempt at being “uppity” or thinking one is better than one’s own family.
- Women’s roles were limited, but the women Dickens creates don’t seem to be as limited as I’m sure many were. We see a stong and capable woman in Miss Abbey Patterson; however, Mrs. Wilfer is a wife and mother and her role is clarified by her statement, “It is as you think, RW; not as I do.” Mrs. Patterson is successful in her own right. The question is whether Mrs. Wilfer’s “Ladies’ School” was a failure due to her own shortcomings or was she limited by her husband and as he “thinks.”
LOVE HER!! She is the kind of person I love most – steady as a rock and what you see is what you get! She manages a room full of London’s “finest” with a stern look and the unspoken threat of being exiled!
What a way to start a book! A dead body and a delicate young woman all in the opening chapter… sounds like a great start to me.
What’s in a Name?
- I love that Dickens doesn’t reveal the names of some of his characters until the reader has already established an impression of the character.
- Charley is an example of a character we meet long before we have his name. Charley comes to us as higher quality than “other boys of his type.” We have established a favorable opinion of this young man through the eyes of Mortimer before we finally get his name from his sister (whom we also admire). The character of Charley could possibly be a reference to Dickens’ own son, who was also named Charley. Dickens’ son was educated at Eaton and entered a business career, where he was doing quite well at the time Our Mutual Friend was published (Davis 98). Maybe Dickens saw his own son’s journey into life as he saw Charley Hexam’s journey begin.
- However, at other times, Dickens’ names are brilliantly overstated as the character is introduced. I love that he almost hits the reader over the head with possible implications for an individual’s moniker.
- Gaffer’s name could be a reference to his landing a big catch. A “gaff” is a large hook used to bring enormous fish onto the deck of a boat – a very fitting reference to a man who “fishes” in the Thames for his unique catch.
- The most glaring example may be the Veneerings with their “bran-new” possessions and status. Their name could reference the idea of a “veneer.” It seems as though Dickens is casting disparity on their newly found fortune and social standing by associating them with something that appears to be of value but is actually made up of something far less valuable at its core.
- Bella Wilfer is another glaring reference. “Bella” means beautiful, and there is not much substance to this character besides her beauty. Ironically, her beauty is strictly superficial; we see her as nasty-natured and unpleasant. Dickens sets up a great contrast and highlights the difference in what people see and what actually is.
- The list of names goes on and on, and I cannot wait to continue exploring what their implications might be. This has turned out to be interesting enough that it might be the basis of one of my research pages.
Davis, Paul Benjamin. Charles Dickens A To Z, The Essential Reference To His Life And Work. New York: Facts on File, 1998.
After reading the Web Writing Style Guide, it struck me that creating a blog, website, or even a tweet is somewhat like going on a blind date and follows many of the same rules.
- Dress yourself up– use visual design to create the best possible first impression.
- Your appearance should give a clear indication of what you are about.
- Don’t overdo your makeup (background) or clothing (font & images) – otherwise they can be a distraction.
- Be polite and respectful– use your best manners and remember common courtesy.
- Say please and thank you when responding to comments and even criticism.
- Ask before you interrupt – don’t assume that the chef of the restaurant wants your input in his kitchen.
- Don’t offer brutal criticism to anyone. If is ineffective and often hurtful. If things aren’t going well on the “date,” simply look for another site to visit.
- Avoid seeming desperate– desperation is a turn off in any situation (real-life or cyber).
- Don’t beg. “Please” is a nice word and should be used, but not to harass or guilt people into a second date or repeat visit.
- Try not to “overshare.” Include content into your conversations that is relevant and interesting ; avoid including information or content that would make your “date” uncomfortable.
- Keep your companion (audience) in mind. For whom are you writing? Is it a specific group or the public at large? This will often determine content and design elements.
- Manage the conversation– don’t deliver your life’s history in a single long monologue.
- Don’t ramble on. Break your content up into smaller sections with subheading and lists.
- This offers a great opportunity for your “date” to process what you are delivering in smaller chunks and will also make it easier to remember the big stuff.
- Offer your best– otherwise, your “date” will just move on to another site.
- Don’t assume anyone owes you a visit.
- Follow good grammar rules and use good attribution. Give credit where it is deserved. Often that will gain you respect much more quickly than taking credit for someone else’s ideas. You never know what or who your reader already knows. How embarrassing to be caught taking credit for someone else’s joke?
Not everything in the writing guide could be equated to a blind date, but much of it was an obvious comparison. A good rule of thumb is that first impressions make or break you, and quality will always get a return call.
Just started twitter and wordpress accts for a graduate class on Dickens – Yipee!