The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens opens with a dark, menacing tone as the characters are introduced as sharing a bed inside a horrible, little room that serves as an opium den. The man, a Lascar, a Chinaman, and a haggard woman are atop the bed under the influence of opium. As the waking man arises from the bed, the tone switches to one of aggression when he grabs the man by the throat. An air of mystery is also evident in chapter one as the reader has yet to have a clue about the man's identity or why he is in the opium den. The chapter ends with the man entering a cathedral.
Dickens uses a metaphor, a comparison, of the man's opium induced vision of a rusty spike on a cathedral to the rusty spike on the bedstead, linking the deplorable condition of the room to religion. As well, Dickens paints a dark picture of religion later on in the chapter when "the choir are getting on their sullied white robes" (paragraph 20). One would expect the white robes of a choir to be fresh and clean, unsullied. Dickens also employs simile, another comparison, in describing the man watching the haggard woman: he sees "the spasmodic shoots and darts that break out of her face and limbs, like fitful lightning out of a dark sky" (paragraph 13). Lastly, parallelism is used, the repetition of structure, when the man "arrives among them, gets on his own robe, and falls into the procession filing in to service" (paragraph 20).