The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Posted by Steven on 8/2/2012, 10:47:12, in reply to "Re: Dickens' 200th birthday"
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: WHAT the hell happened to Edwin Drood?
: We should try to point out our theories of the
I've been trying to think this through systematically, thinking about the writer as well as the story.
Did Dickens himself even know how it would end? He wrote his stories as they were being published. I read yesterday that when sales of Martin Chuzzlewit were lagging, he transplanted the novel to America. If he could move a novel to another continent, could he have left his decision on Edwin's true fate to the last minute? I think not. The mystery is so central to the novel that Dickens had to know how he was going to resolve it well in advance.
In Dickens' other novels he often pulls big surprises near the end, usually happy ones, which would suggest that Edwin is going to reappear. Typically he would fall in love with Helena and marry her while Neville and Rosebud pair up. Then would come the second surprise, that Neville and Helena aren't really "Landless" at all, but the inheritors of great wealth.
But Edwin Drood isn't a typical Dickens novel--starting in an opium den, for example--so perhaps we shouldn't make such a happy assumption.
So the possibilities are:
A. Edwin isn't dead
a. He ran off on his own for some reason
b. He's been kidnapped
B. Edwin is dead
And if the solution is either kidnapping or murder, who is the villain?
2. Another character we've met
3. Someone who has yet to appear
Of course, everything so far points to murder by Jasper, which is why most of us would tend to think that can't be the answer. Nonetheless, he is obviously up to no good--drugging people, exploring the cathedral crypt, and stalking. There are plenty of clues suggesting that Jasper has stolen or copied Durdles' key to Mrs. Sapsea's tomb, and for what reason if not to hide Edwin's body? (Edwin's living person? not likely since months have now gone by) Why did he collapse when Grewgious told him Edwin and Rose had broken their engagement if not because he regretted some fell deed? He should have been delighted that the path to Rose was now open for him.
If not Jasper, then who is the murderer/kidnapper? Hot tempered Neville, the original suspect? It wouldn't be much of a mystery if that turned out to be the case. Agatha Christie might have made Mr. Crisparkle the killer, but that's not in character for the 19th century. Nor is the 21st century twist that would make Rose Bud the killer. In any event, she'd have wanted to marry him first to grab his inheritance.
Money has to play a part in the mystery somewhere. If Jasper didn't murder Edwin for love, he most certainly was planning some misdeed for money to pay for his opium habit. There has to be a secret lurking behind the parentage of Neville and Helena.
And who is Mr. Datchery, the mysterious stranger who is apparently tracking Jasper? A detective? If so, put on the trail by what agency? Or a private investigator? If so, paid for by whom and with what reward in sight? What role does Mr. Sapsea play in all this other than providing comic relief?
My theories are:
- Edwin is alive, and even though his disappearance was involuntary, he has chosen to stay in hiding.
- Neville knows where Edwin is. He is being too quiet.
- Edwin's disappearance involves a ship, and Tartar is either hiding him on his yacht or will be involved somehow in his discovery.
- There is a great secret involving the cathedral tower and most probably Mrs. Sapsea's tomb that has been the driving force behind everything. Jasper knows something of the secret, and has been looking for it. The novel opens with him having an hallucination of the tower, indicating that is what is most on his mind.
- Datchery is employed by Grewgious to try to uncover what Jasper knows about the cathedral's secret, at which point Edwin will come out of hiding.
- Either the cathedral's secret involves the brother and sister or they will separately come into an inheritance. There's also a strong likelihood that Rose's inheritance is an issue and tied somehow to the secret of the cathedral. It may be her money that Jasper is after, not her person.
- The disclosure of the secret will lead to Jasper's killing himself with an overdose of opium.
- Edwin will marry Helena; Neville will marry Rose. Mr. Grewgious and Miss Twinkleton will hit it off as well.