Who you are
It took me several chapters to figure out what I wanted to highlight in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but by chapter seven I had made several notes on the topic of opportunity (and lack of opportunity). As John Jasper says to Neville Landless, “You and I have no prospect of stirring work and interest, or of change and excitement,” and this seems to be accurate for more than these two characters.
The circumstances these characters are born into dominate their lives, and there isn’t much they can do about it. For instance, Neville claims that his stepfather gave the guardianship of Neville and his sister to a man “for no better reason that I know of, other than his being a friend or a connexion of his.” Mr. Crisparkle says in response, “You shock me,” and my response was the same. Guardianship is such an important decision, and the way it was handled suggests that those children have little value. They have even less control.
Hardships…might have made him more sensible…of good fortune that is not be any means necessarily the result of his own merits.
This line, which is delivered by Neville to Jasper and Drood, seems like a reprimand because Drood has a betrothed and a job opportunity. Why? Because of his father, not as a result of his hard work or sacrifice.