A Study in Scarlet

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Joseph Stangerson Character Analysis

The son of Elder Stangerson, Joseph Stangerson was one of Lucy’s unwanted polygamous suitors. Stangerson killed John Ferrier and helped kidnap Lucy, and so he is one of the two men against whom Jefferson Hope vows revenge. After breaking with the Mormon Church sometime after Lucy’s death, he became Drebber’s relatively poor secretary. Unlike Drebber, who is unintelligent and often drunk, Stangerson is sharper and more wary of Hope’s attempts on their lives.

Joseph Stangerson Quotes in A Study in Scarlet

The A Study in Scarlet quotes below are all either spoken by Joseph Stangerson or refer to Joseph Stangerson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Observation and Deduction Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of A Study in Scarlet published in 2001.
Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

“We have come,” continued Stangerson, “at the advice of our fathers to solicit the hand of your daughter for whichever of us may seem good to you and to her. As I have but four wives and Brother Drebber here has seven, it appears to me that my claim is the stronger one.”

“Nay, nay, Brother Stangerson,” cried the other; “the question is not how many wives we have, but how many we can keep. My father has now given over his mills to me, and I am the richer man.”

“But my prospects are better,” said the other, warmly. “When the Lord removes my father, I shall have his tanning yard and his leather factory. Then I am your elder, and am higher in the Church.”

“It will be for the maiden to decide,” rejoined young Drebber, smirking at his own reflection in the glass. “We will leave it all to her decision.”

Related Characters: Enoch Drebber (speaker), Joseph Stangerson (speaker), John Ferrier, Lucy Ferrier, Enoch Drebber, Elder Stangerson
Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:

After Brigham Young threatened Ferrier and Lucy with an ultimatum, Ferrier sends out a message to Jefferson Hope in the city, and returns to find Drebber and Stangerson already in his house. The two young men here presumptuously argue over who should marry Lucy, based on their wealth and existing number of wives. Drebber and Stangerson casually objectify their wives, referring to them as if they were collectibles or pets. As their argument reveals, a marriage to either one of them would not be founded on love, as is Lucy’s relationship with Jefferson Hope, but rather on the men’s ability to manage the expense of “keeping” an extra wife.

Adding insult to injury, Drebber falsely claims that Lucy’s marriage is entirely her decision, despite the fact that Brigham Young has already threatened Lucy’s life in order to force her to marry one of the men. The Mormons’ insistence that Lucy marry a Mormon man is motivated not only by their rejection of Hope, a Gentile (non-Mormon) but also an implicit gender ideology that women must be married and thus dependent on men. They don’t, by contrast, insist that men must marry Mormon women, as they don’t force Ferrier to marry and as they bring in supplies of “fresh” and presumably non-Mormon women to be used by the Mormon Elders.

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Part 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

“It don’t much matter to you why I hated these men,” he said; “it’s enough that they were guilty of the death of two human beings — a father and a daughter — and that they had, therefore, forfeited their own lives. After the lapse of time that has passed since their crime, it was impossible for me to secure a conviction against them in any court. I knew of their guilt though, and I determined that I should be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. You’d have done the same, if you have any manhood in you, if you had been in my place.”

Related Characters: Jefferson Hope (speaker), Sherlock Holmes, John H. Watson, John Ferrier, Lucy Ferrier, Enoch Drebber, Joseph Stangerson, Lestrade, Tobias Gregson
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

After Holmes brings Hope to the Scotland Yard, Hope decides to make a full statement, as his aortic aneurysm could prevent him from telling his story at any time. Hope views his murder of Drebber and Stangerson as just, but his conception of justice is not the traditional European conception of justice as blind and impartial, but rather a more personal, vengeful “eye for an eye” form of justice that might be found in the American Wild West stories that Doyle favored as a child. To Hope, Drebber and Stangerson “forfeit” their lives because they are responsible for the deaths of Lucy and John Ferrier. Courtroom justice is inexistent or inaccessible in Hope’s Wild West, and he takes it upon himself as “judge, jury, and executioner” to carry out vigilante justice, despite the fact that the Mormons’ vigilantism was in large part responsible for the very deaths he was avenging. Hope further justifies his actions as a sign of his “manhood,” a patriarchal value with which he appeals to his captors (all men) but which he ironically does not realize helped to facilitate Lucy’s forced marriage to Drebber.

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Joseph Stangerson Character Timeline in A Study in Scarlet

The timeline below shows where the character Joseph Stangerson appears in A Study in Scarlet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 3: The Lauriston Garden Mystery
Observation and Deduction Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
...printed with his name, and letters from a steamship company, addressed to Drebber and to Joseph Stangerson , about their upcoming return to New York. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7: Light in the Darkness
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
...man to the room as “Mr. Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Enoch Drebber and of Joseph Stangerson .” Hope frees himself from Holmes and attempts to throw himself out the window, but... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4: A Flight for Life
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
...home, he is surprised to see two men in his sitting room. Enoch Drebber and Joseph Stangerson introduce themselves and compare their claims for Lucy’s hand in marriage. Stangerson argues that he... (full context)