A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet Part 2, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrative shifts to the present, where Hope is recounting his story. Recognizing his powerlessness, Hope does not resist any further and appears resigned to being arrested. Hope openly admires the way Holmes followed his trail. He calmly lets himself into his own cab, and at Holmes’ suggestion, Gregson and Dr. Watson accompany him, with Lestrade driving the cab. At the Scotland Yard, Hope is allowed to make a statement before his meeting with the magistrates later in the week. Hope decides to confess everything right then, and asks Watson to examine his chest. Watson is surprised to discover that the man has an aortic aneurysm, which Hope claims is due to overexposure and malnutrition from his time in the mountains. As Watson confirms Hope’s precarious health, Hope is allowed to make a full statement.
Back in the present, Watson is narrating the story again. Now that Hope has achieved his revenge, he is no longer driven by his all-consuming desire (and so seemingly has no real reason to keep going anymore) and calmly accompanies the detectives to the Scotland Yard. It’s interesting that Hope and Holmes develop a small rapport here, with Hope admiring the latter’s skillful tracking skills. Hope reveals that his pursuit of revenge gradually damaged his health, to the point that he could die at any time.
Themes
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Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Hope begins by saying that the men he killed were responsible for the deaths of a father and daughter, and that they therefore deserved to die. Since no one else would have convicted them, Hope decided 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 wedding ring, vowing to himself that it would be the last thing Drebber saw and thought about. Hope pursued Drebber and Stangerson all over America and Europe, a difficult feat as he had little money. When he arrived at London, he found work as a cab driver and eventually discovered that his enemies were staying at a boarding house in Camberwell. However, they cleverly eluded capture, as they never went out alone or in the dark.
In his confession to Holmes and the Scotland Yard detectives, Hope summarizes the events of the previous chapter and argues that his murder of Drebber and Stangerson was just (if illegal). Hope’s removal of Lucy’s wedding ring is an attempt to invalidate her marriage to Drebber and thus to correct the injustice of her forced marriage. The ring itself serves as a reminder of her tragic death and of his quest for revenge.
Themes
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Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
One night, however, Hope followed the men from the boarding house to the train station. He heard the men 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 told Drebber to meet him at the Halliday’s Private Hotel. At last Hope had an opportunity to catch the men alone. He had been planning to take Drebber back to an empty house of Brixton Road, and the only problem now was getting him to that house.
After 20 years of tracking his prey, Hope finally has an opportunity to begin carrying out his revenge. Doyle ties up all the loose ends of the story in these sections, revealing the answers to any lingering questions about the murders.
Themes
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Hope followed Drebber and watched him go in and out of liquor shops before taking a cab back to the boarding house. Hope then saw a young man chase Drebber out of the house for “insult[ing] an honest girl,” and Drebber, seeking refuge, got into Hope’s cab, asking to be driven to the Halliday’s Private Hotel. Hope was elated, as Drebber walked right into his hands. Drebber decided to stop by another liquor shop and told Hope to wait for him outside.
Unbeknownst to Hope, the young man is Arthur Charpentier, who angrily chases Drebber out into the street after Drebber attempted to abduct his sister Alice. Ever the alcoholic, Drebber does not realize the cabdriver’s true identity.
Themes
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At 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.” As Hope was once a janitor in a university lab, he had learned about alkaloid poison, some of which Hope stole and made into soluble pills. He began to carry pillboxes with him, each carrying one of the poisonous pills and one harmless pill. He decided that his enemies should choose one of the pills, while he would take the other.
Hope does not kill Drebber“in cold blood,” as he wants his death to be somewhat theatrical and suspenseful. Though he views Drebber’s murder as “just,” he does not seem to accept the idea of justice as being blind or neutral, rather than passionate and personal. Hope’s choice of alkaloids to kill his enemies provides symmetry to the deaths of Lucy and John Ferrier, who were killed either directly or indirectly by the Mormons, whom the unnamed narrator at the beginning of Part 2 came to associate with the desert and thus the “Great Alkali Plain.”
Themes
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Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Returning to his story, Hope claims that he saw John 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 hotel but to an empty house on Brixton Street. Once they made their way into the house, Hope lit a candle, asking Drebber if he recognized him. Drebber was horrified when he realized that it was Hope, who declared that one of them would die that night. Hope claimed that “There is no murder,” as “Who talks of murdering a mad dog?” Hope reminded Drebber of his crimes, and held a knife to force him to choose one of the pills from his pillbox. God, Hope claimed, would decide whether Drebber received the poisonous pill or the harmless pill. Hope held up Lucy’s ring before Drebber’s eyes and laughed as he watched Drebber die.
Hope further justifies his murder of Drebber by comparing the former Mormon to “a mad dog,” dehumanizing Drebber not unlike Watson did when he portrayed Drebber as “ape-like.” Giving Drebber a random choice between poison and a harmless substance, Hope — despite his angry desire to make Drebber suffer the suspense of anticipating his own death — views this as a test of divine morality. When Drebber chooses the poisonous pill, Hope believes that Drebber’s death was truly sanctioned by a just God.
Themes
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Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
During this encounter, Hope’s nose had been bleeding, and on a whim he decided to write “RACHE” on the wall with his own blood to throw the police off his trail. Leaving the house in high spirits, he drove away until he realized that Lucy’s ring was missing. When he came back, however, he ran 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 morning, Hope decided to climb up to Stangerson’s window. Catching Stangerson off guard, Hope described Drebber’s death and offered him one of the pills from another pillbox. However, unlike Drebber, who had taken a pill, Stangerson attacked Hope, who then stabbed Stangerson in self-defense. Hope believes that Stangerson would have died anyway, “for Providence would never have allowed his guilty hand to pick out anything but the poison.”
Hope confirms Holmes’ early deductions that the splotches of blood around Drebber’s body belonged to the murderer and that the “drunkard” Constable Rance had encountered was actually the murderer returning to the scene of the crime in disguise. Though Stangerson’s chances would have been 50-50 had he chosen one of Hope’s pills, Hope chooses to believe that Stangerson’s death is sanctioned by God, indicating that he views his revenge in terms of divine justice, not through human conceptions of legality and illegality.
Themes
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Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
After killing Drebber and Stangerson, Hope continued to drive his cab until a youngster asked for him by name, requesting his cab for a man at 221B, Baker Street. Unsuspecting, Hope arrived at the apartment only to be captured. He remarks to his listeners that though they may regard him as a mere killer, he believes that he is “just as much an officer of justice as you are.” When Holmes asks for the identity of the accomplice who retrieved the ring, Hope amiably tells him that he doesn’t want to get his friend into trouble. Holmes, agreeing with Hope that the friend had retrieved the ring and escaped skillfully, doesn’t press the matter. At that point, an inspector announces that Hope must be put in prison, and Watson and Holmes set off for Baker Street.
Hope tells his side of the story of how he was lured by Wiggins, the street urchin, and caught by Holmes, and concludes his statement with his firm belief that by killing Drebber and Stangerson, he was carrying out justice. Though Holmes was Hope’s captor, they speak amiably and respectfully to each other, both satisfied with the turn of events — Hope with his success in delivering vengeance and Holmes with his capture of the murderer.
Themes
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