The Enigma Essay, Research Paper
“The Enigma” involves all of the elements of a good mystery. It involves a search for a
man who just disappeared one day out of the blue with no trace as to what could have happened.
This essay will establish the important points of the story such as the sergeant’s role in the case,
his similarities to the main character as well as his relationship with the son of the main character’s
girlfriend, and what is ultimately uncovered in the end.
“When John Marcus Fielding disappeared, he therefore contravened all social and
statistical probability. Fifty-seven years old, rich, happily married with a son and two daughters;
on the board of several City companies…but the most profoundly anomalous aspect of his case
was that he was also a Conservative Member of Parliament,” (Fowles 191-192). Since he was
such a prominent figure, his disappearance came as a shock to everyone that he knew. His wife
frantically tried to trace her husbands steps by calling all of the places that he could possibly have
been at, but nobody saw him. It was like he had just disappeared into space…he was gone. Mrs.
Fielding took the disappearance to the next level and called in a personal detective. She went
through everything with the detective and “a few minutes later the hunt was at last placed in
professional hands,” (Fowles 198). Mrs. Fielding’s philosophy could be summed up best in this
manner with respect to a professional search;
“I have done all that I have could to find him, it is your turn.” Word spread that Fielding
was missing and it became the big headline in the news. All sorts of stories were fabricated,
including that he was trying to escape his life and that he possibly had an accomplice carry out and
assist him with the disappearing act. That is where Michael Jennings came into the picture. He
came up with his own ideas with respect to the disappearance. “He spent the day following the
secret decision in going through the now bulky file on Fielding, and at the end of it he drew up for
himself a kind of informal summary that he called State of Play. It listed the possibilities and their
counter-arguments…The sergeant then wrote a second heading Wild Ones,” (Fowles 203-204).
Jennings listed everything from murder to suicide, from abduction to paranoia. There were no
leads into any of the sergeant’s possibilities so he began to question people in order to make for a
better understanding of what could have possibly happened. His job was to hunt people down,
question them until he was blue in the face and solve the mystery.
This was a difficult job, as was the job that Fielding possessed as a Conservative Member
of Parliament. Both Jennings and Fielding had jobs that not too many people had the desire to
possess because of their essence of complexity. Fielding was also similar to Jennings with respect
to the love that they both had towards Mrs. Fielding. Mr. Fielding loved her because they were
married and they had reason to love. Jennings had love for her because of the fact that they were
able to share things with each other in a special secretive way.
Jennings and grew more attached to the family because of the fact that they spent so much
time together trying to figure out what had happened to Mr. Fielding. He learned all about the
family and about the people that the Fielding’s knew from questioning and just spending time with
Mrs. Fielding. It was not only Mrs. Fielding that made Jennings want to become more familiar
with the family, but it Ws also the son Peter. “Look. All right. Maybe you don’t know the kind
of world I was brought up in. But its leading principle is never, never, never show what you
really feel. I think my mother and father were happy together. But I don’t really know….”
(Fowles 215). By Peter providing Jennings with that insight, it led him to become closer to Mrs.
Fielding in order to find out just what Peter was trying to say without actually saying it. Jennings
tried to inform Mrs. Fielding of the possibilities of what had happened to her husband, but she
dismissed them. “Sergeant I’m in a vacuum. One hour I expect to see him walk through the
door, the next…” (Fowles 220). She thought that it was a dream and that she would wake up,
however, Jennings was her wake up call. He was not a part of her dream; she was not sleeping,
but rather wide awake in an unending nightmare. Jennings also became attached to Isobel who
was Peter’s girlfriend because she knew things that both Peter and Mrs. Fielding were withholding
In the end, things turn strange. The case is solved in an interesting way; Isobel cracks the
case. She shed light on the family and their life, but she also shed light on why the disappearance
was so important. “The one thing people never forget is the unsolved. Nothing lasts like a
mystery,” (Fowles 242). Isobel told Jennings everything about how Fielding liked to hunt and
hike and how it was easy for him to escape because he knew his way around without being seen.
She decided that he staged his own disappearance and his death and that it would remain unsolved
because the Fieldings would not tell and friends and colleagues had no clue as to what was going
on. She knew all of the information because of that one dinner that she had with Fielding. She
figured out what was going to happen. Once he got the story straight, he no longer needed the
help of the Fielding’s. He went on to collecting evidence, Isobel his animus, his female shadow,
cracked the case for him, and now it was his job to get to the bottom of it.
In conclusion, I have used what I have deemed interesting and important to show what I
believe was the key point to the story. In my opinion the key to the story was Isobel because if it
were not for her the Fieldings would have given Jennings the “run around” so to speak
throughout the whole story and it would have remained an unsolved mystery just like what it
seemed they all wanted it to be.
“The Enigma” by John Fowles Taken from THe Ebony Tower Little, Brown and Company-Boston-Toronto