Discussion Questions: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

March 23, 2010 at 12:15 am 4 comments

This is the last week of March’s Classics Challenge stint before LT goes on break for the month of April. The next drawing for the Penguin Clothbound Classic will be at the end of May, so you have plenty of time…but this would be an easy week to participate! Here’s what we’ll be talking about in relation to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Dickens’ tantalizingly unfinished mystery:

All right, let’s hear it. Who did it? What was the motivation behind the murder, and what clues do you feel Dickens left for you? In your mind, are there any other possibilities?

One thing that struck me about this book was how many elements of the plot seemed recognizable from other (often later) stories. How is this novel intertextual, both in the sense that it influences and is influenced by other works from the 19th century?

How does Dickens play with the notions of wildness and civilization in this novel? Why do you think he is constantly contrasting the two, and why is this contrast important to the novel?

See you Thursday!


Entry filed under: LT Classics Challenge. Tags: , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kberke  |  March 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    On the subject of Who done it?, I take the position that, if John Jasper was not intended to be the murderer, Dickens was guilty of the same kind of subterfuge that led us to believe that “Noddy” Boffin was a miser. As to motive, my imagination permits me no other conclusion but that Jasper that kind of in love with Rosa that no holds were barred.

    On the subject of Wildness: I anticipated that Helena Landless would turn out our Wild One; yet, by the termination of the novel, she’s quite tame. I expected wilder, tiger-like things from her. Even her brother grew tame.

    • 2. KT  |  March 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm

      I know, what happened to Neville and Helena?! I was such a fan of theirs until, apparently, Dickens decided his story was short on victimized orphans. Everyone and everything seemed to grow outstandingly safe near the end — except Jasper, of course.

      Thanks for participating again! Did you ever receive your other book?

  • 3. kberke  |  March 26, 2010 at 6:41 am

    I did indeed receive the books–many thanks to all concerned. A very nice edition.

  • 4. kberke  |  March 26, 2010 at 6:48 am

    On the matter of familiar themes in this book: I keep a WordPress blog on the books I’m reading, while I’m reading them. I found this among my comments:
    Some of the characters and themes seem familiar to me from other Dickens novels:

    The orphaned Neville and Helena remind me of the orphaned cousins in Bleak House, Richard and Ada.

    The pre-arranged marriage reminds me of the prearranged or pre-encouraged marriage of John Harmon and Bella Wilfer in Our Mutual Friend.

    Mr. Honeythunder reminds me of the aggressively philanthropic Bleak House’s Mrs. Pardiggle and Mrs. Jelleby.

    I have some questions of my own:

    1) Is Honeythunder an evil character, or simply misguided.
    2) Do we know for sure that Edwin is dead?
    3) Mr. Grewgious seems familiar to me–in the sense that he reminds me of another Dickens character. But who? A shy, good, intelligent person, whose qualities makes him a hero, notwithstand in initial non-prepossessing-ness. Who would that be?


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