A Study in Scarlet

Enoch Drebber Character Analysis

The wealthy son of Elder Drebber, a leader among the Mormons, Enoch Drebber is the first murder victim that Holmes and Watson encounter in their “study in scarlet.” He uses his power among the Mormons to force Lucy Ferrier to become one of his wives (he is a polygamist), causing her to die of a broken heart and prompting Jefferson Hope to seek revenge against him. Sometime after Lucy’s death (and for unexplained reasons that don’t seem connected to her death), Drebber and other younger members of the Mormon Church broke from the elders and became Gentiles. With Stangerson, Drebber travels throughout Europe in order to flee Hope. Throughout the story, Drebber reveals himself to be a drunken, presumptuous, and lecherous lout, groping the maids at the boarding house where he stays, including Alice Charpentier.

Enoch Drebber Quotes in A Study in Scarlet

The A Study in Scarlet quotes below are all either spoken by Enoch Drebber or refer to Enoch Drebber. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of A Study in Scarlet published in 2001.
Part 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

On his rigid face there stood an expression of horror, and, as it seemed to me, of hatred, such as I have never seen upon human features. This malignant and terrible contortion, combined with the low forehead, blunt nose, and prognathous jaw, gave the dead man a singularly simious and ape-like appearance, which was increased by his writhing, unnatural posture. I have seen death in many forms, but never has it appeared to me in a more fearsome aspect than in that dark, grimy apartment, which looked out upon one of the main arteries of suburban London.

Related Characters: John H. Watson (speaker), Enoch Drebber
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
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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.”

Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:
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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.”

Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
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Let the high God judge between us. Choose and eat. There is death in one and life in the other. I shall take what you leave. Let us see if there is justice upon the earth, or if we are ruled by chance.

Related Characters: Jefferson Hope (speaker), Enoch Drebber
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:
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Enoch Drebber Character Timeline in A Study in Scarlet

The timeline below shows where the character Enoch Drebber 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
...at Number 3, Lauriston Gardens, on Brixton Road. The corpse of an American man, Enoch Drebber, was found in an empty house with no apparent wound marks or robbery evident. (full context)
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...further and instead inquires about the contents of the man’s pockets. Gregson informs him that Drebber had a gold watch and chain, as well as business cards printed with his name,... (full context)
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...helping with the case and decides to speak to the constable, John Rance, who found Drebber’s body. Before he and Watson leave, however, Holmes gives the Scotland Yard detectives “one thing... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4: What John Rance Had to Tell
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...asks how the men ended up in the house, how the murderer could have forced Drebber to poison himself, where the blood and the ring came from, what the murderer wanted,... (full context)
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...window. Rance found the house empty, save for a lit candle on the mantelpiece and Drebber’s body on the floor. The constable then exited the house and sounded his whistle, attracting... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5: Our Advertisement Brings a Visitor
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...but cannot stop thinking about the “distorted, baboon-like countenance of the murdered man.” Convinced that Drebber’s face reveals “vice of the most malignant type,” Watson feels “gratitude” toward Drebber’s murderer, while... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6: Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do
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...newspapers’ misinformation, Watson learns some new facts about the case, such as the fact that Drebber and Stangerson had been staying at a boarding house belonging to Madame Charpentier in Camberwell... (full context)
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...to ridicule Lestrade’s pursuit of Stangerson, proudly explains how he had noticed the maker of Drebber’s hat and had found Drebber’s address at Madame Charpentier’s through the hat seller. (full context)
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...daughter Alice was visibly upset. Madame Charpentier originally claimed that the last time they saw Drebber was at eight o’clock the night before his death, when he left for the train... (full context)
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...continued to question Madame Charpentier, who revealed that Arthur does not have an alibi for Drebber’s murder. Holmes congratulates Gregson on his theory that Arthur is the murderer, and Gregson, not... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7: Light in the Darkness
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...spent the entirety of the previous day inquiring into Stangerson’s whereabouts between his meeting with Drebber at the train station and the time of Drebber’s murder. Lestrade ascertained that Stangerson was... (full context)
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...who described the man as tall with a reddish face and a brown coat. Like Drebber, nothing had been stolen from Stangerson after his death. Stangerson carried no papers except a... (full context)
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...Holmes introduces the 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... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4: A Flight for Life
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...he returns 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... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5: The Avenging Angels
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...happened to Lucy. Stangerson had shot her father, and she had been forced to marry Drebber. Cowper remarks that she seemed to be on the brink of death. (full context)
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...because of her grief over her father or “the effects of the hateful marriage” to Drebber, who only married her for Ferrier’s property. While Drebber’s wives mourn Lucy, a wild-looking Jefferson... (full context)
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...between the Elders and the younger Mormons, many of whom left the church and Utah. Drebber and Stangerson were among these men, but there was no way to track them. Hope,... (full context)
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Years later, Hope finds the men at last in Cleveland, Ohio, but Drebber recognizes him and has Hope arrested by a justice of the peace, giving himself and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6: A Continuation of the Reminiscences of John Watson, M.D.
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
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...to take matters into his own hands. The daughter was Hope’s fiancée. Forced into marrying Drebber, she died, according to Hope, of a broken heart. After her death, Hope took her... (full context)
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...ask for the train to Liverpool, but the next train wouldn’t be coming for hours. Drebber decided to go off on his own and stubbornly dismissed a warning from Stangerson, who... (full context)
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Hope followed Drebber and watched him go in and out of liquor shops before taking a cab back... (full context)
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...this point, Hope breaks from his narrative, claiming that he did not intended to kill Drebber “in cold blood” and that he wanted Drebber to “have a show for his life.”... (full context)
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...and Lucy Ferrier smiling at him as he was about to enact his revenge. As Drebber was heavily drunk, he did not realize that Hope was bringing him not to the... (full context)
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...into a police officer, but managed to escape by pretending to be drunk. Now that Drebber was dead, Hope’s only other goal was to kill Stangerson as well. Early in the... (full context)
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After killing Drebber and Stangerson, Hope continued to drive his cab until a youngster asked for him by... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7: The Conclusion
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...the distance between his footprints on the garden path. He came to the conclusion that Drebber had foreseen his death by poisoning by the expression on his face and the smell... (full context)
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Holmes had already deduced that the man who walked Drebber into the house was both the murderer and the cab driver, and now he had... (full context)