The Drood Inquiry
Previous / Next

Who marries who?

It’s not all death and gloom in Cloisterham, and throughout the mystery amorous glances are cast between characters – but where will it all lead?

Rosa Bud

As the heroine of the tale much has been debated on Rosa’s fate, with her marriage often forming the happy conclusion of the tale. But who will be the groom?

Edwin Drood

Naturally this theory is reliant on Edwin being alive, but having survived whatever mishap awaited him on Christmas Eve, many believe that the shock would both mature Edwin and make Rosa realise her true feelings for her estranged fiancé. In a letter to Forster some time before he started writing Drood, he wrote of a plan in which two young people would be in a fixed marriage and eventually realise their true love for one another. The idea of the pair changing their feelings to each other, despite their disapproval of the arranged marriage, is also mapped out in Dickens’s previous novel Our Mutual Friend – could this be Dickens’s intention for Rosa and Edwin?

Neville Landless

Neville loves Rosa, but could she ever feel the same about him? There is little mentioned in Dickens’s text to suggest she does, but the torment which Neville undergoes whilst under suspicion of Edwin’s murder might prove the making of him as a man and inspire sympathy for him from Rosa. This theory is more popular in screen adaptations (Neville and Rosa are romantically entwined in both the 1935 and 1993 film), yet in these adaptations the character of Tartar is absent and Neville steps forward to play the hero, being consequently rewarded with a heroic conclusion of winning his lady’s love.

Tartar

There is clearly an attraction between Rosa and Tartar. She is full of desire for him, in a very physical sense, fixating on his skin, his arms, and dreaming about his life as a sailor. The attraction seems mutual, Tartar take Rosa out on his boat and has great delight in her company. It might be that this is intended merely as a passionate attraction doomed to fizzle out for a deeper, mature love, but for most solutionists, Tartar is the obvious choice of husband.

Mr. Grewgious

Though no-one has – yet – gone so far to suggest an actual marriage between this pair, some have argued that Mr Grewgious may well be in love with Rosa Bud. Henry Morford writes of Grewgious’s hopes, ultimately crushed, of brightening up his life with the very mirror of the woman he loved before. Could Rosa ever look upon her guardian as more than just a protective, father figure?

Mr. Sapsea

This theory is really better seen as wish fulfilment on Mr Sapsea’s part than an actual marriage that might occur. In Leon Garfield’s 1980 solution, Sapsea’s vanity prompts him, when searching for a wife, to choose Rosa as the object of his affections – suffice to say his attempts are not successful. But such ambitions are certainly in keeping with Sapsea’s character, and given that the pair are never seen together in Dickens’s text, who knows what sparks might fly between them when they meet?

No One

Certainly the least common idea, but an intriguing one, is that Rosa does not marry at all. This was the idea proposed by Gwynneth Hughes in her 2012 adaptation for the BBC, and one she was very pleased with. Again, this was an adaptation in which Tartar did not feature. But, with solutions to the mystery spanning nearly one and a half centuries, it is not surprising that attitudes to Rosa’s fate might change. In Dickens’s time it would be expected that the heroine should marry for her story to be complete, but then Dickens himself said he had an idea for something quite new for the ending of this book – might he have been planning something as radical as an unmarried heroine?

Helena

She may be proud and fiery, but nonetheless as a Dickensian heroine, many solutionists see Helena as prime marriage material – but who will be the man who can capture this wild woman’s affections?

Edwin

If Edwin is alive, what might his plans for the future be? Dickens tells us of Drood’s attraction to Helena at the Rev. Crisparkle and Mrs Crisparkle’s party, and these feelings are alluded to again, both when he meets Grewgious to receive the wedding ring, and after he and Rosa have broken off the engagement. A number of solutions in which Edwin survives thus choose to show him married to the girl he loves – but what about Helena’s feelings? Dickens shows nothing in his text to indicate her feelings for Edwin, good or bad. In Henry Morford’s solution this leads to a long outpouring of emotions that she has deliberately kept hidden from those around her – certainly Helena is noted for keeping check of her emotions, so could her love for Edwin be her great secret?

Septimus Crisparkle

This is the most popular choice of Helena’s groom In solutions to date. When Helena kisses Crisparkle’s hand with gratitude he feels it is too much a payment for his service, and both characters frequently express admiration for the other – could this therefore be a romantic admiration they feel, or purely platonic?

No One

Of course it is possible that Helena does not marry, especially should she be in love with Edwin and the young man turn out to be dead, she could potentially end the story in an almost widow-like state. Or perhaps her admiration for Crisparkle will be strained by the growing suspicions surrounding Neville. In her role as secondary heroine to Rosa, it is not inconceivable that Dickens intended this proud, strong woman to escape the typical feminine conclusion.

Thomas Sapsea

While Helena and Rosa dominate discussions of possible marriage, the third, surprising figure in questions of marriage is Thomas Sapsea. This is a consequence of format; discussion of Sapsea’s fate rarely features in essays, where other questions take priorirty, but when a full solution has been written as novel, play or film, other questions must be addressed beyond the main ones, and the romances of Sapsea has figured as a comic subplot.

Miss Twinkleton

Who better to marry the Mayor than the prim and proper teacher of the school opposite his house? This at least was the case in both The Cloven Foot (1870) and Gillian Vase’s 1878 sequel. This question very much relies on which side of Miss Twinkleton we presume to dominate her marriage choice: the sensible schoolmistress or the gossipy romantic – in Leon Garfield’s solution she married her old flame Mr Porters, who turned out to be none other than the pseudonym of Dick Datchery!

Mrs. Billickin

In W E Crisp’s 1914 solution, which took great pains to imitate and honour Dickens style, Sapsea’s overconfidence had its comeuppance when two swindlers left him in financial ruin, the result of which was Sapsea’s exodus from Cloisterham and the surrounding scandal into London, where he met Mrs Billickin and a chance at financial security through marriage. In Dickens’s text the two characters have no contact, so this idea rests mainly on theories of plot structure – is Sapsea destined to have a fall, and is Billickin, introduced at the end of the first half of the story, due to have a greater role and interaction with others?

Miss Dean

In Charles Forsyth’s solution, he proposes that Sapsea’s fascination with the Dean, and promoting his own standing further in the community, would naturally lead to Sapsea’s seeking the Dean’s daughter’s hand in marriage. We do not meet Miss Dean in Dickens’s text of course, so this is an idea that rests primarily on Sapsea’s character and predicting his personal story arc – certainly it may well be a scheme Sapsea would pursue, though his desire to be the Dean may prevent him chasing his daughter.

Rosa Bud

This theory is really better seen as wish fulfilment on Mr Sapsea’s part than an actual marriage that might occur. In Leon Garfield’s 1980 solution, Sapsea’s vanity prompts him, when searching for a wife, to choose Rosa as the object of his affections – suffice to say his attempts are not successful. But such ambitions are certainly in keeping with Sapsea’s character, and given that the pair are never seen together in Dickens’s text, who knows what sparks might fly between them when they meet?

No One

The theories above are all pure speculation of what Dickens might do next with his comic characters, and while most have not concerned themselves with this, those who have mapped out full solutions have frequently left Sapsea as he is found, a widower basking in the glory of his late wife’s admiration.