‘The Pale Blue Eye’ Character: Augustus Landor, Explained – What Had Happened To His Daughter, Mathilde?

The pivotal moment in “The Pale Blue Eye” is veteran detective Augustus Landor’s revelation of being the perpetrator of the murders at the United States Military Academy. The murders committed by Landor were motivated by the tragic passing of his daughter Mathilde, who was raped and tortured by three military cadets at the academy. Following the dreadful night in Mathilde’s life, she was discovered by her father in the midst of the woods with her clothes torn and her body covered in wounds. She gave him a locket with the initials of one of those three cadets, Leroy Fry, engraved on it. Landor desired revenge on them after seeing his daughter in such a condition, yet he was relieved that his daughter was alive.

He tried his hardest to console her, but nothing could heal her broken heart because she had been through so much. Though she wanted to forget everything in order to resume her life, the scars on her face reminded her of the trauma. She was too young to have witnessed such cruelty, and it completely shattered her strength. She began to feel ashamed, which was quite common for women in the nineteenth century, as there was no such thing as women’s empowerment at the time, and society used to mistreat rape victims. A young woman at the time was too frail to fight against society. Landor had tried to calm her down, but she was unable to muster the courage to gather herself. So, in order to break free from the agony, she leaped off a cliff, bidding her father goodbye for the last time. Landor was a loving father who did nothing wrong in raising his daughter, but following her suicide, he lost himself. If he couldn’t bring about the justice his daughter deserved, he thought his life would be pointless. He wanted to kill the abusers—the monsters dressed in military uniforms. He kept that locket to himself until he discovered Leroy Fry. He summoned him to the wilderness at midnight. When Leroy appeared, Landor strangled him to death. Though Leroy had been killed, finding the other two was difficult for Landor. Even though he hadn’t the slightest clue about them, certain information arrived in the form of Leroy’s diary, which his mother had given him. She wanted Landor to look into her son’s death without realizing she was conversing with her son’s murderer. Landor discovered from the diary that the night they assaulted Mattie, Ballinger and Stoddard were with him. It became easier for him to track down those two, and soon after, Ballinger was discovered hanging in the woods, his chest dissected. Since Leroy had been found with his heart removed, Landor used this pattern in his next kill so that it appeared to be the work of a Satanist. As a result, it became much easier for him to frame the witchcraft practitioners for these crimes. He began probing, and Edgar Allan Poe volunteered to uncover the Marquis family’s dark secrets, which were eventually revealed to be the reason for extracting the victims’ hearts.

However, Edgar Allan Poe had suspected from the start that the killer was a poet or a lover of poetry, but Landor clarified that he was not interested in poetry, despite the fact that he had a book of Byron in his library. Though he denied writing or reading poetry and said that the book belonged to her daughter, it was clear that it was Landor who read the book and placed Leroy’s locket inside it to remind him of his mission. Anyway, he was unable to kill the third one because Stoddard fled after discovering that two of his friends had been killed. He understood the motivation behind these killings, knowing that if he didn’t flee, he would be the next victim. But Landor had no regrets that Stoddard had escaped his grasp because he wanted him to be traumatized for the rest of his life. Landor made one mistake, however, when he sent a handwritten note to Poe, who discovered that the torn fragment of the note had the same handwriting as Landor’s note. After hearing Patsy’s story about his deceased daughter, he didn’t have to think long to figure out that Landor was the real killer. He was certain of his suspicions, so he confronted him. Landor, on the other hand, had no fear of being apprehended because he was done with his act of revenge. He admitted to Poe that he could have told Thayer about what happened to his daughter and made those three confess their crimes, but Landor didn’t want them to confess or be imprisoned for several years. He desired for them to have their ultimate punishment, which was death. Poe had never supported murder and considered it an inhumane sin, but he forgave Landor, given his circumstances and the anguish of a father who had lost his child. He only had one clue that could have gotten Landor arrested, and that was the note Landor had sent to him, but he chose not to use it. Landor saved his life when he was about to be murdered by Lea, and for that, he recognized Landor as a man of honor. He had already suffered greatly as a result of Mattie’s death, and he didn’t want to jeopardize his life any further. He set fire to the note and left Landor to live his life with his daughter’s memories.

The act of murdering a person is in no way pardonable, but neither is the crime of sexually assaulting a person and abandoning her to face the pain. The law, which Landor disobeyed, had the sole authority to punish the criminals; thus, Landor should have forced them to confess to their crimes and left them to rot in jail, but he punished them all by himself. Not only that, but he blamed Lea and Artemus for everything he had been responsible for. Landor was, therefore, not an innocent man who could be entirely pardoned. Landor was nevertheless relieved that those perpetrators had been put to death, but would Mattie ever return to him after those killings? It’s probable that Stoddard might commit a similarly heinous crime again. Therefore, the solution isn’t turning to murder for murder. The legal system is the one that could decide the punishment, and in order for people to have faith in the law, it must be impartial and uncorrupted.

See more: ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ Marquis Family, Explained: What Happened To Lea And Artemus? Are They Dead Or Alive?

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.
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