Symbolism of the Sea in Dombey and Son
He maketh the deep to boil like a pot:
He maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
Job (ch. XLI, v. 31)
Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail, and for Export by Charles Dickens is a novel largely about motion and change. A good place to begin the analysis is at the continuous reference to the ocean that occurs at key points in the narrative. The first Mrs. Dombey’s death is described as drifting “out upon the dark and unknown sea that rolls round all the world” (Oxford University Press, 1987 p. 10). Such a description implies the wantonness of change and death, which money can not control, and begins the recurrent associations the Dombey children express with the sea.
For young Paul Dombey, the frail son and heir of the enterprise of Dombey and Son, the sea whispers endlessly (and presciently, it turns out in his case) of death, and of the “beyond.” The fact that “sea air” is prescribed to aid little Paul Dombey’s ailing health is ironic since from the beginning of the novel the reader is led to associate the sea with death and unpredictability. Little Paul, who is deemed “old fashioned” by some, seems to experience a very strong affinity for the ocean. Upon early acquaintance with the seashore, he becomes absorbed in trying to understand its meaning or purpose, as he believes the rolling of the waves “are always saying something. Always the same thing.” (109) Perhaps Paul’s extreme precociousness and connection with things others cannot understand is a testament to his being, in a way, too good to live (at least for the purposes of this novel). His close connection with the ocean indicates that in his weak childhood condition he has never come far enough away from the place of death, creation and uncertainty (that place to which the children believe their mother has gone) to begin a stable, normal and modern life with the people of the more realistic world.
The description of Paul’s fatal fall into illness uses the metaphor of a trip down a rushing river “bearing [him] away” (224). A river is another stark symbol for movement, change, inevitability and a strange (not necessarily bad) lack of control. Golden light “streams” (note the continued water imagery) in on Paul as he delivers his last words: “How fast the river runs, between its green banks and the rushes, Floy! But it’s very near the sea. I hear the waves! They always said so!” (225) He describes how “the motion of the boat upon the stream was lulling him to rest” (225) until the “boat was at sea, but gliding smoothly on.” (225) Paul’s descriptions of his watery trip into death are in fact quite positive, and he is nearly ecstatic. His good and loving nature is imprinted upon an otherwise dim event. At last, he claims to see “a shore before him,” with a person standing on a bank, whom Paul refers to as his mother, as he says she is like “Floy” and he knows her “by face.” The sea is not only the great power that restores little Paul to his mother in death; it is also his final nurse who lulls him into eternal sleep.
Paul’s apparent ability to see into the next world during his last moments connects him even further to the ideal of a heavenly child. Florence too, partly through her close connection with Paul, is a heavenly child yet for complicated reasons is not recognized as so by her father, Mr. Dombey. The name “Florence” (and especially Paul’s nickname for her, “Floy”) employs sparkling yet subtle wordplay in its phonetic similarity to the word “flow” or “flowing” — another deep-rooted allusion to the power and mystery of water.
The unbounded sea is the very symbol of flux in the novel, bringing wealth and bringing destruction. On this same sea is where young Walter Gay, one of the novel’s heros, sails to the West Indies to seek his fortune and is feared shipwrecked. Fortuitously, the waters of change cast him up again and return him in time to marry Florence in the extreme high point of the novel.
The port of London, where much of the novel’s events take place, teems with the exotic nature of both arrivals and departures, and of foreign shipping and foreign peoples. It ebbs and flows with the commerce of empire, captured in the full title of the novel: Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail, and for Export. The great financial heart of this empire and its port is where we find the House of Dombey, a firm of exchange: money changes hands, deals are made and broken, property is conveyed, and fortunes are lost. The sea is a mighty and preemptive force; it can be, at some times, the pliant tool of Man’s will and benevolent supporter to its projects; at other times, it can be Man’s nemesis, reminding him that the ocean defines earthly space and has absolutely no need of man nor his projects.
The sea theme lends breadth and depth to Dombey and Son; the sea itself has the formidable status of a character. It can be violent, forceful, even punitive when necessary, but gracious and protective as well. It can be an agent of separation and loss; for example, the death of Walter Gay, Florence Dombey’s suitor and a source of loving concern to the reader. The sea has taken Captain Cuttle’s hand and deprived him and his friend Jack Bunsby of many a shipmate. Yet these men all regard the sea with a mellow familiarity, free of bitterness. The reader particularly enjoys Gills and Walter reviewing the dates and locations of disasters at sea. Through the feelings his characters relate of the sea, Dickens creates an understanding of his novel’s unconditional love for the sea — a characteristic often lacking in the literal parents of the novel.
Although the Toodles are in fact an excellent example of the possibilities in loving parentage, throughout much of the narrative Dombey clearly did not love his daughter Florence under any circumstances. And perhaps he only loved his son under the circumstance that his heir would fulfil his business aspirations. And of course Edith’s mother virtually brokers her away for money. Parenthood is unreliable in Dickens’ Dombey and Son to the point that in a way the entity of the sea (however grand and fluctuating) takes its place.
The Transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge
A Christmas Carol is an allegory, written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, is one of the most compelling Christmas themed books known today. It was written during the industrial revolution in England. It was a dirty era and the plight of the poor was desperate. Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, cold-hearted owner of a London counting-house, continues his stingy, greedy ways on Christmas Eve. Later on that evening, Scrooge receives a chilling visitation from the ghost of his dead partner, Jacob Marley. Marley informs Scrooge that three spirits will visit him during the next three nights. Scrooge has one last chance of redemption, he can either embrace the joy of Christmas or end up like his fellow dead business partner, according to the spirits. Dickens’ novella is not a religious telling of the story of Christmas, but it does talk about the ability of a person to transform one’s life by changing the way they treat their neighbor.
At the start of the book, Scrooge is portrayed as an unfeeling, cruel character which is shown when he tells the charity workers that if the poor would rather die than go to a workhouse, “then they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population”. Scrooge represents the Victorian rich who neglect the poor and think only of their own well-being. Pathetic fallacy is used to represent Scrooge’s change: In Stave One, the weather is described as being “Foggier yet, and colder. Piercing, searching, biting cold”. This represents how cold and iron-hearted Scrooge was at the beginning of the book. Repetition is another key technique used to dramatically describe scrooge’s character. A word repeated many times in the first few paragraphs is “dead” with this an instant negative mood is brought upon the reader. Dickens creates the sense that Scrooge was isolated, “Secret and self-contained, and as solitary as an oyster.” Scrooge would not even let a single penny slip through his hand, regardless of how wealthy he was. A miserly and mean character who only cares about money.
Described as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!”In the final Stave, Scrooge has become a lot more emotional and charitable. You can see this as he uses more affectionate terms such as “my dear” and “my love” and as he says that “the time before him was his own, to make amends in!” when he wakes up. The spirits have really played a massive role in transforming his character. In Stave Five, the weather is “clear, bright, jovial” with “Golden sunlight”. This change in weather represents how Scrooge has become a lot kinder and more generous. This again, is an example of pathetic fallacy. Scrooge is a changed man. Here is a word repeated often in the last stave “chuckle”. This is a cheerful and enthusiastic word that fits in with scrooge’s new change of character. It makes the reader feel that scrooge is now a humorous person, which he never was before. He repents for all his previous sins by giving Bob a raise, atoning for his previous bitterness toward his clerk, he apologizes to the portly gentleman he meets on the street and pledges lavish contributions for his charity, where in Stave One he threw him out of his counting-house.
Scrooge also happily attends Fred’s party. In conclusion, the moral behind Christmas carol is that in a social divided community it is important to treat everyone with equality. This is shown through scrooge’s character, and how he treats people somewhat below him in the social hierarchy as a man quite high in society and how he treats them after he has been visited by the spirits. The moral is still of relevance to today’s world, although there is a large time difference between now and then there still are social divides throughout society. Dickens uses a variety of techniques to make this book have a great impact on the reader.
A Christmas Carol is closely linked with Dickens personal life. Dickens was poor and his parents spent time in workhouses. This book was written during the industrial revolution, the working world, especially a city like London, was becoming more mechanised, it seems that the goods of a man were slipping through the cracks as all the men were too busy working. This novella was written to remind all these men to focus on the right things, not get carried away and it’s never too late to change.
A Character Analysis Of Fagin From Oliver Twist By Charles Dickens
“Bad words don’t exist, but words with bad intentions behind” – Roberto Fontanarrosa
The characters, plot, setting, action, and content are all important elements of a drama play. There are characters that dominate and make every single drama, play, film or any form of literature stand out and whom with their presence is why there is a conflict in every story. In the play Oliver Twist, Dickens kept the character traits the same although he portrayed them in different ways.
Fagin is one of the important characters in Oliver Twist, he, in fact, is the antagonist of the story. as he had a huge impact on the whole story. When Fagin made his first appearance in Oliver Twist, he was stereotyped as a guy with good intentions. However, later on, the reader finds out that he is completely the opposite. It seems like Dickens wanted Fagin to look just as ugly on the outside like he is from the inside. Fagin is a criminal whose goal is to train young boys and orphans to steal or to pick-pockets for him. There is a couple of events in the play that prove to what extent Fagin is bad and what his main goal is behind having a relationship with Oliver.
The first time Fagin appeared in the play was when Oliver was brought to him with the artful dodger. Fagin had a bad habit of doing something for self-pleasures that could have harmed others who are the orphans. Fagin used the young, orphans as an advantage; he trains them to become pickpockets and tries to steal valuable things such as watches, handkerchiefs and many more. This can be clearly shown when Fagin said to Oliver at the end of scene 3 “time for bed. Tomorrow is a working day!!” Adding to Oliver’s young age Fagin has a bad sense of arrogance and he thinks he’s clever by controlling the boys to pickpocket and get him what he wants. An evidence of this is when Fagin said to dodger “I could use him well…”, unfortunately, the little ones think that it’s a game they’re playing and they do not know how much of a crime they are committing.
We can also see that Fagin is inconsiderate by making the young orphans do the work for him as he puts them in an embarrassing situation when they try to steal and get caught. This is clearly shown when Mr. Brownlow caught Oliver trying to pick something from his pocket. Dickens also shows that Fagin is a hypocrite by killing one of the members in his “gang” that happens to be Nancy. Nancy started to help Oliver and make him avoid following Fagin and this results in her death. The character of Fagin is presented in many ways. However, at the beginning of scene 3, it is evidently and clearly shown that Fagin is double-sided and deceitful. “You brought us a new one!” said Fagin mysteriously while in front of the kids he acts considerate. A good example of this is when he keeps saying “my dear” as well as when he said “you’re my special lads” There is nothing common when relating Fagin’s personality to my social and personal values. Fagin is considered the worst character in the play, the things he does is not what people in my society are known for. Speaking away from religion, it is not satisfying to do such things. Not just it doesn’t feel right but it also involves putting other people in a bad-looking situation.
I personally think that even if Fagin was doing something right and acceptable for a living, he should depend on his self. In my opinion, I feel like if someone does something by his/her self, they will value it more than when someone else is doing it for you.
Feeling of Victimization and Resentment
I. If there is one word that sums up the pervading atmosphere of Little Dorrit, it is claustrophobic. From the very first chapter, the reader is inducted into a world primarily made up of rigidly enclosed spaces; every level of the novel is in some way bound, restricted within literal or, more interestingly, metaphorical confining structures. This theme of imprisonment gives rise to, and is inextricable from, its emotional response, a feeling of victimization and resentment, an element that lends the novel a suggestively subversive uneasiness that extends beyond the bounds of the novel, to the very heart of Dickens’ literary form. The powerful humanity of Little Dorrit lies in Dickens’ masterful arrangement of his characters and the various ways in which they deal with imprisonment; the intriguing ambiguity lies in whether or not they ultimately transcend the walls that confine them, and indeed, whether this question is even relevant.
II. The novel’s central prison, the Marshalsea, and the Dorrits, the literal prisoners within, form the origins of the prison theme, from which the images of other, figurative prisons and their inhabitants draw their potency and pathos. Part of the idiosyncrasy of a Dickens novel is the way in which his characters, rather than standing on their own as focal points of interest, depend on other characters to lend them greater form and dimension; rather than endowing one character with a full personality, he creates clusters of strangely crippled, uni-faceted entities, de-composites of personality who usually provide more insight into the characters surrounding them than interest in and of themselves. In Little Dorrit, the characters of Amy, ‘child of the Marshalsea’, and Miss Wade, child of another kind of prison, together shed interesting light on the themes of imprisonment and resentment, and their respective narrative functions.
Amy Dorrit, the diminutive title-character, has lived her entire life within the prison walls; she is the only member of the Dorrit family who, when we first meet her, has never spent a night outside the gates. (The one exception to this, which comes in the chapter entitled ‘Little Dorrit’s Party’, is the night she spends with her idiot-friend Maggie, literally just outside the gates, separated from her cell by the least possible distance.) The very title of the book comes to represent her having grown up under the blight of the ‘shadow of the wall'(p.243). Yet, in striking contrast to the rest of her family, she bears not the least sign of bitterness towards her lot. On the contrary, she devotes herself relentlessly to kindness and servitude to everyone around her; she painstakingly hides from her father anything she thinks might remind him of the separation between his world and the one beyond the gates, (efforts that are helped along by the bizarre position of ascendancy he occupies among the prisoners). Just as thanklessly, she helps her brother and sister in their outside-worldly ‘ambitions’, arranging dancing lessons for her sister, finding job opportunities for her brother.
We find an interesting counter-possibility to Amy’s demure and humble resignation in the enigmatic character of Miss Wade. Miss Wade has lived her life imprisoned by the seemingly more debilitating walls of resentment of her orphan status, (note the assonance between ‘Wade’ and ‘Ward’), and the absolute certainty that every kindness ever done her has been cruel condescension. Geoffrey Carter, in his essay on sexuality in the Victorian Era, aptly calls it a “… paranoia [that] everything that is done around [her] is designed to hurt [her].”(p.144 )
The interesting comparison between Amy and Miss Wade lies precisely in this attitude towards the kindness of others. Contrasted against the venom with which Miss Wade condemns those who would help her, Amy is all acceptance. After the initial and momentary shame of being ‘found out’ by Arthur Clennam, she willingly, passively, and gratefully submits to his efforts to help her and her family. Indeed, her gratitude is so strong that it turns into erotic (or semi-erotic anyway) love. Miss Wade on the other hand, due to her bitterness towards all humanity, removes herself from society, particularly the society of men, suggesting that her bitterness has developed into an all-pervading misanthropy that precludes her from the possibility of love. Amy, her gratitude towards Arthur having developed into the tenderest love, eventually finds happiness and narrative rest in marrying him. Miss Wade, we are led to believe, cannot marry; after the relation of her life story, we cannot but assume that she will remain to the end of her days an acrimonious spinster, all chances of love choked by her disproportionate pride and eternal vengefulness. (In her essay entitled ‘Miss Wade and George Silverman’, Carol A. Bock calls attention to the ‘authority and conviction’ with which she relates her history, and the consequent lack of interest the reader has in ‘her present state of mind’ ; there is a seeming finality in the way her story is isolated within its own chapter, almost as though she is now forever wedded to her own grievances. It has been suggested that Miss Wade’s bitterness and isolation stem from frustrated homosexuality , and, though this is a perfectly plausible and valid claim, it seems an unnecessary extrapolation, detracting from the potent image of her exile. Her didactic purpose in the narrative, (if indeed she serves one), is the fact that she is relegated to eternal isolation, something that, within the terms of Victorian literature, is achieved just as effectively through asexuality as it would be through homosexuality.)
In Little Dorrit, as in Bleak House , Dickens suggests the possibility that gratitude gives rise to erotic love, and, therefore, narrative fulfillment, a suggestion that has profound and complex implications in a socially-minded nineteenth-century novel. In a form that derives closure from marriage , we cannot help but read some sort of intended judgment into the contrasted stories of these two women; in a novel populated only by deeply constricted characters, the fact that love and marriage can only take place in the absence of the struggle against confinement, indeed only upon a total resignation to confinement, seems, at the very least, contradictory to the agenda of a reformatory novel.
The ambiguity of the novel’s final statement is compounded by the fact that Amy, though the central character, remains somewhat ambiguous herself. (One of the difficulties of reading Dickens is that his characters, in their aforementioned flatness and monotony, are very reluctant to ‘come to life’–they seem, oftentimes, to be imprisoned on the page.) The reader wonders whether she does not suffer from a neurosis as intense as Miss Wade’s, one that manifests in her dependence on single-handedly bearing the weight of her family’s misfortunes, and on thanklessly but nonetheless tirelessly serving and nursing them. (Dickens is a master of laying open the profoundly British ‘mustn’t grumble’-mentality, a resentment that manifests itself in a rigorous but latently hostile good-will.) When the family fortunes change, and the Dorrits quit the Marshalsea, Amy fades into an utterly despondent melancholy, only finding relief in a new mothering relationship with her uncle; her return to England is a return to her old life, with Arthur as a replacement for her father. Seen in this way, we are unsure what to make of her eventual marriage to her new ‘patient’, hesitant to see this final union as a triumph, a release, or even a change of life. (It is noteworthy that two of the final chapters are entitled “Closing In” and “Closed”, confounding the readerly expectation that this novel, pervaded by bars and gates, will ‘open up’ at the end.)
We have another ambiguous element in the discussion of resentment and its resolution in Tattycoram’s story. If Miss Wade is Amy’s double, we may see Tattycoram as a kind of parallel-universe version of Miss Wade, her return to the Meagles being an alternative to Miss Wade’s professed belief that if one is “… shut up in any place to pine and suffer…”, one should “… always hate that place and wish to burn it down, or raze it to the ground…”(p.35). The ambiguity of Tattycoram’s story lies in Dickens’ non-commentary upon the Meagles’ treatment of their charity case, and the reader is not entirely sure that they are not hypocrites, masking supercilious condescension as charitable kindness. “Count to five-and-twenty,” is a thinly veiled euphemism (“Repress! Repress!”), and there is a vague trace of creepiness in the image of Tattycoram, in fits of rage, hypnotically counting to twenty-five on Mr. Meagles’ command(p.314). Given the traditional Dickensian mode of closure–characters are either condemned or rewarded by the novel’s closing events–the reader doesn’t quite know what to make of Tattycoram’s return to her ‘cell’ in the bosom of the Meagles family (just as we are hard put to see Amy’s marriage as a liberation).
We have another interesting and (typical of Dickens) puzzling study of the ideas of repression and resentment in Arthur Clennam, who stands out as one of the stranger characters in Dickens’ imaginative population. (Despite Arthur’s shadowy presence and vague outlines, there is a palpable weight to his brooding consciousness; one feels at times throughout the novel, particularly in the passages that deal with Arthur’s unrequited love, that Dickens the often distant narrator, is noticeably close.) The repression of his ardent love for Pet Meagles manifests itself, straightforwardly enough, in hostility towards the nefarious Henry Gowan, her successful suitor. “… still Clennam thought, that if he had not made that decided resolution to avoid falling in love with Pet, he would have taken a dislike to this Henry Gowan.”(p.203) In the chapter entitled ‘Nobody’s Disappearance’, (note the extent of Arthur’s repression– not only does the Arthur who is capable of love ‘disappear’, he never existed, was always ‘nobody’), Arthur gives up all hope of ever finding love: “… he… finally resigned the dying hope that had flickered in nobody’s heart, so much to its pain and trouble; and from that time he became in his own eyes, as to any similar hope or prospect, a very much older man who had done with that part of life.”(p. 326). He is from now to the end of his days a bachelor, mourning the loss of his true love, and he has the reader’s sympathy, especially since, far from allowing his forever-broken heart to turn bitter, he remains the kindly, self-effacing character we have known from the beginning. One would expect, then, that his ultimately marrying Amy, would bring some sense of suffering rewarded, a broken heart happily mended. This is decidedly not the case.
Arthur does not fall in love with Amy, he rather succumbs to the centrifugal force of his life, of which she is ‘the vanishing point’: “He had traveled thousands of miles towards [her]; previous unquiet hopes and doubts had worked themselves out before [her]; [she] was the centre of the interest of his life; [she] was the termination of everything that was good and pleasant in it; beyond there was nothing but mere waste, and darkened sky.”(p.702) Only one-hundred pages before the end of the novel, Arthur asks himself if “… there was no suppressed something on his side that he had hushed as it arose? Had he ever whispered… that he must not think of such a thing as her loving him, that he must not take advantage of her gratitude…”(p.700). This is the first the reader knows of such past feelings; either Dickens needed a way to tie up the novel, or Arthur is inventing his love for Amy, culling it, perhaps, from a dread of loneliness, and a gratitude towards her for loving him.
The dynamic of their union is a strange one. Arthur refuses her in her plea to let her pay his debts and free him from the Marshalsea; the shame of accepting help from her would be too great. After her fortunes have changed, (again), their engagement becomes understood. It is interesting to note that the initiation of the engagement is all Amy’s; Arthur says not a word in this scene–it is his turn to be all passive acceptance. Only after Arthur is freed–Doyce makes a timely reappearance to take care of his debt–can the marriage take place, a marriage about which the reader notes two things: first, that the marriage makes obsolete Arthur’s, and indeed the novel’s, appellation for Amy; second, that the marriage is marked by a decided lack of the redemptive glory or triumphant liberation we have come to expect, or at least hope for, by the end of this claustrophobic novel; the reader is left with the image of Amy and Arthur, lost in “the roaring streets” among “the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain,” making “their usual uproar.”(p.787)
III. What is the reader to do, then, with these ambiguities? How are we to reconcile the two novels that seem to struggle within Little Dorrit for eminence?
On the one hand we have a novel that “… teaches us in the manner of Piers Plowman and Pilgrim’s Progress the necessity of transcending individual personal will…”(p.114 ). Dickens biographer Fred Kaplan suggests the following for a scheme of the novel: “… wealth becomes a prison, the Marshalsea becomes a place where freedom, gained only through self-discovery, is possible, and the world of experience provides the context in which honesty, moral rectitude, and hard work determine self-worth.”(p.343 )
As tempting as it is to leave the analysis in this well-delineated state, it does not account for Dickens’s endlessly fascinating, (often frustrating), ambiguities of tone and plot. Despite the novel’s narrative condemnation of Miss Wade, and its exoneration of Amy, the reader remains somewhat unsure as to whether or not to fall in behind these judgments. (This is due in part to the strange pathos of Miss Wade’s story, and in part to the noticeable lack of suggestion of transcendence in the final passage of the novel.) Lionel Trilling wrote that “it is part of the complexity of this novel which deals so bitterly with society that those of its characters who share its social bitterness are by that very fact condemned.”(p.40 ) Elaborating on this point, Brian Rosenberg succinctly sums up the novel’s problematic duality thus: “The ubiquitous image of the prison, the exhaustive portrait of the Circumlocution Office, and the saga of Mr. Merdle–among many other things–combine to form a scathing attack on the values and practices of mid-Victorian society, with particular emphasis placed on society’s tendency to deny freedom, thwart initiative, and corrupt even the best intentions. Yet this angry novel appears at times to internalize and endorse the assumptions of the culture it denounces.”(p.39 )
The term ‘angry novel’ is particularly apt; in the confusion and ambiguity of Little Dorrit, and the final ‘endorsement’ of the ‘cultural assumptions it denounces’, we cannot help but feel a certain hostility aimed at us. I would suggest that this hostility originates in Dickens’ struggle for artistic freedom (that strange ideal that becomes so hard to define as to become almost meaningless) within the confines of Victorian culture and the dictates of serial publication.
There is plenty of evidence that Dickens sorely felt the restrictions of working within these constraints. In a letter to Wilkie Collins, he wrote: “If the hero of an English book is always uninteresting–too good–not natural, etc… what a shining impostor you,” (the English critic), “must think yourself and what an ass you must think me, when you suppose that by putting a brazen face upon it you can blot out of my knowledge the fact that this same unnatural young gentleman (if to be decent is to be necessarily unnatural)… must be presented to you in that unnatural aspect by reason of your morality, and is not to have, I will not say any of the indecencies you like, but not even any of the experiences, trials, perplexities, and confusions inseparable from the making and unmaking of all men!”(p.355 ) Dickens also found the “limited elbowroom of weekly serial publication” to be “absolutely crushing.”(p.307 ) The first numbers of Little Dorrit, which was published in twenty monthly installments, received mixed reviews, the main complaint being that “… he should stick to comedy and domestic drama.”(p.340 ) And though it sold better than anything he had written up to that time, “… the public appreciation tended to be less for the satire than the sentiment.”(p.340 )
It is one way to account for the duality of the novel to say that, as he continued to write installments, Dickens internalized this criticism, and felt forced to re-route his original novel, adapting it to the demands of his market, toning down his social criticism to make it more palatable to a public hungry for ‘sentiment’ and conventional narrative. In limiting his ambitions, Dickens ended up obscuring the didacticism of the novel, and the reader certainly feels the heat of his resentment at working under such constraint. Indeed, these constraints are directly reflected in his creation of characters. The characters in Little Dorrit, as in many of his novels, are not characters who evolve or transform; Dickens conceived of them as fundamentally imprisoned, within themselves, and within the confines of narrative predictability.
This goes a long way in explaining the problems of much of Dickens’ work, in explaining why we have a novel that is, on one level, a story of the triumph of the good at heart, and on another, a somewhat disturbing and cynical portrait of stunted lives and dead ends. The novel is so shrouded in ambiguities that ultimately, it is neither of the above; as readers trying to find meaning, we are imprisoned within Dickens’ compromised art. Surely we cannot help but feel a little resentful.
Dombey and Lack of Empathy
Narcissism, defined as extreme selfishness combined with a lack of empathy for others, is the exact trait which Dombey exhibits in the short story. Immediately after his wife has given birth to their son, he displays his indifference towards her by solely focusing on his son who must follow his legacy. Viewing his son as a tool for future business deals rather than caressing his new born and enjoying his moment of birth, further validates his own selfish agenda. In the excerpt, the author displays his disapproval of Dombey’s self-centered nature as well as his pity towards Dombey’s son and wife through a variety of figurative devices.
The author insures the reader is aware of their distaste of Dombey throughout the excerpt of the story. The passage begins with the a description of the setting in which Dombey, the son, and the Mrs. Dombey are relaxing. While “Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room…Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead.” The reader can immediately recognize the tension in the room as well as the indifference from the father, Dombey, who distanced himself from his newly born child. Usually a new parent will smother their infant with attention and love, however Dombey appears to be completely uninterested by the presence of his new child. The author also makes note to title the son of Mr. and Mrs. Dombey’s in the same manner which Dombey himself addresses him, as just ‘Son.’ His detached diction through the use of ‘Son’ rather than ‘my baby,’ ‘my son,’ or even addressing him by his name, displays his lack of empathy and compassion. His lack of empathy is further displayed when attempting to lovingly address his wife. While attempting to discuss plans of Son’s baptism “he appended a term of endearment to Mrs. Dombey’s name (though not without some hesitation, as being a man but little used to that form of address. Again, Dombey struggles with even expressing signs of compassion through terms of endearment towards no other than his own wife. In addition to his inability to address Mrs. Dombey as his ‘dear’, he also plans the life between him and his son, as if she will not be present in their future. Dombey repeatedly repeats the phrase “Dombey and Son” without any regard to the feelings of his ill wife.
The author feels immense sympathy towards Son throughout the excerpt due to Dombey’s selfishness and having to be raised by an uncompassionate father who has already planned his life out. Immediately after birth, Son is already being linked to his father Dombey, as an indication of Dombey’s expectation of Son to be just like him. The author links their ages with a clever, “Dombey was about eight-and-forty years of age. Son about eight-and-forty minutes.” The age comparison foreshadows Dombey’s constant control over Son’s new life and the chain that Son must be forced to wear by his father’s pre-planned future for him. Son’s defiance to his own chained future with Dombey are displayed through his innocent-like actions. The author describes as “Son…seemed, in his feeble way, to be squaring at existence for having come upon him so unexpectedly.” While his actions may be perceived as harmless and normal, the author seems to foreshadow a strained relationship between Son and Dombey. Furthermore, the author reinforces Son’s Dombey-controlled life by portraying the perfect life which he imagines for them together. Son’s life has already been predetermined by Dombey who believes “the earth was made for Dombey and Son to trade in, and the sun and the moon were made to give them light.”
Mrs. Dombey is also portrayed as a victim to Dombey’s selfish and apathetic nature. The introduction of Mrs. Dombey’s character is critical to the pity the author feels towards her within the story. After lengthy descriptions of Dombey and Son, Mrs. Dombey is finally and only introduced when Dombey addresses a plan he has for Son. In fact, while Dombey and Son are both given illustrative descriptions, the reader is only left with the fact that Mrs. Dombey actually does exist and is ill because she has just given birth to Son. The author purposely left out descriptions of Mrs. Dombey to further portray Dombey’s selfishness for taking up the majority of the excerpt and to evoke a sense of pity that as a result, not much is known about her. Mrs. Dombey’s lack of love received is displayed in response to Dombey’s difficult attempt to display a hint of affection towards his wife. She displays “a transient flush of faint surprise” at Dombey’s task of addressing her as ‘dear.’ Her surprise at the affection alludes to her deprivation of compassion from her partner as a whole, which further directs the reader to imitate the author’s feelings of pity towards Mrs. Dombey. The manner in which Mrs. Dombey responds to her husband’s idea of baptizing Son further alarms the reader as “she feebly echoed, ‘Of course,’ or rather expressed it by the motion of her lips.” Not only does she barely receive love or compassion from her partner, but the author also reveals that she is weak and ill, most likely from recently giving birth.
The author’s use of detached and worrying diction to describe the three characters as well as missing and emphasized critical details, efficiently directs the reader to perceive Dombey as self-centered and apathetic as well as feel pity towards Son and Mrs. Dombey. Dombey isolates himself and Son from Mrs. Dombey through their plans for future life, and is enamored with the sound of ‘Dombey and Son.’ While his ideas may portray him to be an efficient and loving father, the manner in which he treats both Son and Mrs. Dombey prove otherwise. In fact, his inability to express love to his own wife while in pain, proves that he won’t be able to nurture his son at all.
Charles Dickens – One of the Most Outstanding Writers in the 19th Century
There were by far lots of remarkable and outstanding writers in the 19th century. However, Charles Dickens was most notably one of them amid. The Charles Dicken’s artistic wealth, as well as, real-life experience that was acquired by the hardship he went through his life path, made his literary production as a one of the most compelling and unique collection. Furthermore, some elements and characters put in his stories, came from his personal experience. For instance, the Bill Sikes name, which is the main antagonist in the novel Oliver Twist, was taken from Charles Dickens’ life. As a second autobiographical element from the real-life is the David Copperfield’s employment at Murdstone and Grinby’s that came from Charles hurtful life experience that he went through at Warren’s Blacking Factory.
First of all, Charles Dickens did not have the carefree and pleasant childhood. Neither his adult life nor the marriage was simple and straight. As a matter of fact, he grew up in the destitute family among eight siblings. What is more comes to it, after turning twelve years his father was taken into custody because of the missing payments he was falling behind. Therefore, he was the only person who was in charge of supporting the family working at the shoe factory. Even though he was dreaming of gaining the education by attending the university or academy, his dream could not come true. After a while, he got a chance to go to school, but he was forced to drop it out. He resented his parents for not taking care of him when he needed it the most. Nevertheless, when he started working as an office boy and then as a journalist, it was the key moment in his writing career. Charles Dickens, one of the realist writers of English literature, has been opposed to slavery throughout his life and emphasized the concept of poverty in his works. Dickens, who chooses his heroes from certain types of life, examined social problems and generally focused on social issues. The most important thing in this approach of the author is that he started working in his young ages and witnessed the lives of child laborers closely. In contrast to the superficiality and ruthlessness of the bourgeois, the author, who addresses the simple but clean lives of the poor, has been criticized for his deeply mastery of description, on the grounds that he created characters without depth by some writers. But Charles Dickens has been recognized as one of the most successful literary figures of all time.
He is an author of novels such as Pictures from Italy, Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and many others. Charles Dickens had a pure talent for storytelling and keeping reader’s attention throughout his literary compositions. Moreover, the writing style, as well as, diversity of the vocabulary words, and sentence structure is beautiful and well-organized that makes his compositions even more interesting and absorbing. Further, his novels have influenced the modern world and the movie industry by shooting movies such as A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and Great Expectation. Charles Dickens’s ı The Great Expectation, is a thick book, but it’s a novel that deserves every page count. A work that senses love, hatred, ungratefulness, silliness, the air of wealth, the balloons exploding, and the pale work of conviction.
Particularly, The Great Expectations is the piece that is worth mentioning. This was the thirteenth novel written by him and swiftly became well noted. The story reveals the theme of the destitution and wealth the lead character Pip experienced throughout his life. His sister took care of him during his childhood thus he did not have a chance of meeting his parents. One day, he decided to help a criminal by hiding him and giving the food. There is also a love theme depicted that was unrequited. His beloved woman left his hometown, and he got lots of money from an unknown person. Because of this gift, he could afford to gain the education and improve his life condition. As it turned out, the money given to him came from the criminal he helped a long time ago. Pip could not accept the fact that he got the money from the criminal source. He loses money and is forced to work hard to maintain his life.
In the novels of Charles Dickens, the people he tells are ordinary people, he did not add important historical personalities to his novels; but he told the people he told well. He told the stories of the people who are mentioned in his stories and novels in a long process.
Pip’s Coming Of Age Journey In The Great Expectations By Charles Dickens
Jose de las Luz y Caballero once said “As the fruit ripens, so does the man mature, after many rains, suns and blows.” Throughout the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the protagonist Philip Pirrip also known as Pip, undergoes many changes from when he is 6 years old living with his older sister, Mrs. Joe to when he is 23 living in the city of London as a wealthy gentleman receiving money from an unknown benefactor. His diverse views on people, ideas and places change substantially due to a multitude of factors that affect his everyday life. Hence, Dickens creates Pip’s life as a coming of age journey using themes to go along with his growth and learning. These three themes are social status, guilt, and friendship.
In the first place, the theme of social status is recurring in the main characters plot. While growing up and learning what effect money has on people, Pip realizes that social status and wealth are not as important as love, generosity and inner worth. In chapter 34, Pip realizes he would have had a better life without coming into money. “I used to think, with a weariness on my spirits, that I should have been happier and better if I had never seen Miss Havisham’s face, and had risen to manhood content to be partners with Joe in the honest old forge”. With his wealth, spending came easy and Pip and Herbert amassed a lot of debt. With this, Pip feels he would have rather not received money from his benefactor in the first place. In addition, Pip learns the difference between the “great expectations” of the poor people versus the life of the higher class and learns how the rich treat the poor. Through the wealth he has accrued from his benefactor, Pip has achieved a higher social status and treats Joe and Biddy badly because he tries to distance himself from them. For this, he is remorseful.
Furthermore, Dickens uses guilt as one of the main themes in the novel which gives us an insight to Pip’s emotions and thoughts. From an early age, at the beginning of the novel, Pip is taught right versus wrong and experiences feelings of guilt. “A dread possessed me that when I least expected it, the file would reappear. I coaxed myself to sleep by thinking of Miss Havisham’s next Wednesday; and in my sleep I saw the file coming at me out of a door, without seeing who held it, and I screamed myself awake.” After stealing food and a file from Joe and giving them to a convict named Magwitch, the guilt of Pip’s actions would haunt his thoughts and dreams and he was afraid of what could happen if anyone were to find out. Since this incident, he learned to be more cautious in his life decisions. In addition, given that Joe has always been good to him, Pip had more pronounced feelings of guilt which translated to an adverse effect on his relationship with Joe.
Lastly, the theme of friendship is very predominant throughout the book as Pip is friends with Joe, Herbert, Wemmick and Magwitch, though most of them are fatherly figures. Joe, being his brother-in-law, is a genuine who is very affectionate man and has a kind heart. He consequently teaches Pip integrity and real love. In the beginning, Joe encourages Pip to be humble, honest, and true to himself; “…lies is lies. Howsever they come, they didn’t ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same. Don’t you tell no more of them, Pip. That ain’t the way to get out of being common, old chap.”. This scolding from Joe happens after Pip confesses that he lied about what he did at Miss Havisham’s home, or the Satis House. Pip hates lying to Joe and, being true to himself, tells him that he does not want to be “common” anymore.
A Reflection on a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol was about a man named Ebenezer Scrooge who is a businessman that is greedy, rude, unhappy, and completely focused on making profits. Scrooge has a series of ghosts appear to him that show him his ways and change his outlook on life. When he wakes up on Christmas morning, he is a changed man and is much happier than he was before.
When the play starts out, Scrooge’s nephew comes to visit him and invite him to have dinner at his house with his wife for Christmas, as he does every year. Scrooge rudely declines his offer, as he does every year, and dismisses him by saying humbug every time he says Merry Christmas. Right off the bat, we see that Scrooge is not a very nice person and that he doesn’t like Christmas. We also see that he is a very business focused man who doesn’t have any interest in things that don’t give him value. Later in the play, we see that Scrooge’s wife left him because he only saw things as a gain or loss. She says that although he might be sad for a short time, he will move on very quickly and just write it off as a loss. We also learn that he is a very wealthy person, but chooses to be very stingy with his money on several occasions. He sees children in the street, who are dressed in rags and are visibly hungry, begging for money and instead of having pity on them and giving them some money, he scares them off.
Additionally, Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s sole employee, has a family of 6 that he needs to feed and obviously works very hard for Scrooge. However, Scrooge does not pay him much and treats him very poorly. We really see the true perspective of Scrooge come out when the charity workers come to ask for money in order to give people a meal and clothes on Christmas. Scrooge is very rude to the charity workers and tells them that he already gives to the soup kitchen and the prison. When the charity workers tell him that some people can’t make it to either of those, Scrooge says then let them die and decrease the surplus population. Needless to say, Scrooge had a pretty bleak outlook on life.
One night after returning from work, Scrooge receives a visit from the ghost of his old business partner that died 10 years ago. He tells Scrooge how he has to wear chains and continuously travel throughout the world because he lived such a bad life. He warns Scrooge that the same will happen to him if he doesn’t change. This is the start of the change in Scrooge’s attitude and perspective on the world. Scrooge receives visits from three ghosts that same night, the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmas future. The ghost of Christmas past takes him back to his childhood up through when his wife left him and we see that Scrooge wasn’t always like he is now. He used to be happy and joyful, especially when he was with his wife. Scrooge sees how happy he used to be and how he transformed into the person he is now and he is tormented by his mistakes, which makes him full of regret, although he won’t admit it yet.
The ghost of Christmas present shows him the dinner party that Scrooge declined to go to. Scrooge is having a great time playing games, but then is hurt when he is the butt of a joke about his demeanor. Here, Scrooge starts to see how people perceive him and it makes him sad. Scrooge also sees how much fun life can be again. The ghost of Christmas future shows Scrooge his funeral and the interactions that go on between people after the funeral. Scrooge is shocked and saddened because no one cared about him, and most people were actually happy when he died. After the ghost leaves, Scrooge pledges to be a new man and to make up for his mistakes.
Scrooge wakes up the next morning on Christmas and rejoices that he’s still alive and has time to make up for his mistakes. The demeanor of Scrooge has done a complete 180 from the beginning of the play. At the beginning of the play, Scrooge had a very mean, somber look on his face, while at the end of the play he couldn’t stop smiling and was dancing and skipping around. Additionally, Scrooge became extremely generous and outgoing, completely opposite of the beginning of the play. Scrooge buys the biggest bird in the town to give to his employee, Bob Cratchit, and his family because the ghost of Christmas present showed him the Cratchit family on Christmas and they had a very tiny goose for the whole family.
Additionally, when Bob came into work the next day, he was late and thought that Scrooge would yell at him, like he usually does. Instead of yelling at him, Scrooge tell Bob that he’s going to raise his salary to help him and his family and then gives him the rest of the day off. When Scrooge saw the hungry children and beggars, he decided to give them some money, which was completely against what he did in the beginning of the play. He also found the two charity workers that had asked him for money at the beginning of the year. After apologizing profusely for his actions and how rude he was, he whispered in one of the charity workers ears and clearly told them that he wanted to make a big donation. Lastly, Scrooge decided to go to his nephew’s house for dinner and make him part of his life.
Scrooge changed completely from being a self-centered person that was only focused on his business to a generous outgoing person that wanted to help everyone. The development of Scrooge’s character over the course of the play and the changes that we see teach a couple valuable life lessons. The first is that life is not just about making money. As Scrooge finds out, there is much more to life than making money and there is a lot of joy in it. The second is that you should be generous and take care of the poor because they are just as important as the wealthy people in a society. This lesson comes out when Scrooge says that they should let the poor people die and decrease the surplus population at the beginning of the play. By the end of the play, Scrooge is donating a large sum of money to help the poor and make sure that they don’t die. Lastly, Scrooge shows the audience that you should live your life to the fullest every day because your time on earth is precious and you don’t want to be full of regrets like Scrooge was.
The Theme of Social Class Differences and Inequality in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens is the author of the novel “Great Expectations”. “He was born on February 7th ,1812 and died June 9th ,1870.” He was a British novelist, Journalist, Editor, and illustrator. He wrote novels that were both promising and traumatic. He was one of the most influential writers of the 19th century Victorian age. The novel is “Great expectations” by Charles Dickens; The protagonist of the novel is Pirrip Phillip or as he would like to call himself “Pip”. Throughout the novel the author depicts the difference in social classes between poor and rich, the theme thus far is about social class differences and inequality. The protagonist pip is a young boy who lives with his sister Mrs. Joe Gargery and husband who is a black smith. Pips parents died when he was young so the only memory he has of them is their tombstones.
He tries to envision what his parents look like based on the shape and lettering styles on their tombstones. This allows for the author to elaborate greater on pip’s childlike mentality. Giving a more real interpretation of what a child protagonist thinks like. Pip’s family is very poor they eat bread and butter for dinner. This signals that the family does not have much money. There’re chapters in the novel that proves there is social class differences and inequality. It was a holiday and the family were having dinner and a sergeant and his troops barge right in looking for the blacksmith Joe. No respect for the family or the holiday at all. They only did so because the king encouraged to do so. If they had money, the sergeant wouldn’t have the audacity to interrupt like he had did. This shows the difference in class and lifestyle. The theme social class differences and inequality is so impactful today because it literally takes place everywhere we go. Whether that be at school, work, home. It has been around for centuries and centuries, it will never change. The value that social classes serve to people who are rich. It is so impactful that people don’t even realize it’s going on half the time. People are often treated different ways based on their social class and not often given the same respect that the richer people have.
As the story goes on readers soon realize that pip is just a poor boy trying to survive and runs into the wrong situations.” The man, after looking at me for a moment, turned me upside down and emptied my pockets.” Earlier in the novel pip gets robbed by an older man and must go home and steal food from his own family he’s not very happy about it, but he goes through with it anyways, that way he does not get hurt. The sad part is the man knows that pip is poor but chooses to rob him anyways. This focuses back on the theme social class differences and inequality. Both are poor, but the older man is poorer than pip, so he robs him just to survive another day why the rich stay rich. The cycle of this inequality will never change. Inequality is everywhere, and it isn’t right for people to suffer. Not everyone has an equal opportunity to make something of themselves. Many individuals are cast out because of their social class. Causing Depression, Aggression, and causing people to become less healthy. People are willing to do whatever it takes to break this cycle, but it is nearly impossible. Nothing will change and its sad to watch people in 2018 suffering from poverty and not having a fair chance to overcome day to day obstacles that they will face.
Charles Dickens knew that in the year he wrote this novel and still centuries later nothing has changed. Charles Dickens feels very strongly about this topic because he himself also struggled with being poor. He didn’t just make one book on this theme, he made multiple, one for example is the novel “Tale of Two Cities”. Charles Dickens had a rough childhood with no guidance or support. So, it transitioned into some of his writing. Making strong leads who come from nothing and who are forced with challenges to make something of themselves. Just like he had too. He was never oblivious to the fact of social class Difference and inequality and writing was his way of expressing himself to get the burden off his chest without any punishment. Disguising it in the form of writing. Social class differences and inequality will never change.” Throughout human history, most people live and die in the social class into which they were born. If they were born poor, chances are they will die poor.” It’s the way of life its always has been for centuries and its always worked for the most part. Even though it’s not fair everyone has their role in life and unfortunately some are left with the shorter end of the stick. I never felt that it was write but it was the only way that people can live without complete chaos.
I believe that Charles Dickens felt the same way. People just need to make something of themselves and be able to have the opportunity to succeed. Social classes are better in terms of organization. But it’s worse in terms of the treatment of people. Many people get treated a certain way every single day of their lives due to the fact they aren’t in that next class and it is just very unfair and there’s not going to be a change anytime soon, so we as people just go through the motions and live with it.
The Idea of Moderation in Charles Dickens’ Novel “A Tale of Two Cities”
An inscription in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi said “Nothing to Excess.” In today’s society, moderation is essential in order for a person to lead a meaningful life. If a person conducts their life without moderation in mind there will be extremely negative outcomes. This idea is very visible in society and in Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities.
In A Tale of Two Cities the author makes a social comment on the effects of excess in a society. The paradox of the first line of the novel is used to illustrate how nothing is either one way or the other. Nobody should have too much or little of one thing or emotion. Dickens wants to address the point that balance is key and that everything should be done with moderation in mind. One of Dickens’ characters in A Tale of Two Cities named Sydney Carton portrays this idea perfectly. Carton expresses his love for Lucie Manette. Later, Carton realizes that Lucie does not return his romantic feelings, but he still wishes to do everything in his power to make her happy. Carton later takes his own life in place of Lucie’s husband’s in order to make her happy.
Through this event, Dickens wishes to illustrate that even an excess of a beneficial emotion such as love will eventually become harmful. Carton had too much love for Lucie and therefore got killed trying to make her happy. Another character, Madame Defarge represents this idea of excess versus moderation. Madame Defarge’s family was brutally murdered by the Evremonde brothers. While this would be a logical reason to seek revenge, she took revenge many steps too far and set out to kill all the descendants of Evremonde and their families. Mrs. Defarge’s hatred blinded her into seeing innocent people as guilty. Dickens strives to show how feelings of wanting revenge are natural in a situation like this, but excessive feelings of hatred can lead to an extremely dangerous outcome.
On the other hand, some may say that an excessive amount of a positive thing is beneficial. An article in The Huffington Post titled “6 Thoughts that Prove you can Never have too Much Kindness” discusses how a person can never perform too many acts of kindness. The author’s perspective is that the world will never have an excessive amount of such a beneficial thing like kindness. Similarly, an article from the Entrepreneur’s Yoda titled “To Achieve Entrepreneurial Success, You can Never know too Much” discusses the idea of a person never being able to obtain too much knowledge. This article supports the popular idea that “knowledge is power” and therefore it is impossible for an individual to know too much. While these articles make a point, even positive acts such as acts of kindness should be done in moderation. While kindness is clearly a positive thing, a person should think about themselves as well as others.
According to an article in Psychology Today, too many acts of kindness and generosity could be a “sign of an overly submissive nature, or even as a symptom of mental illness.” (Simons) Acts of kindness should clearly be performed, but not to such an extent that a person ends up hurting themselves. Similarly, studies have shown that having too much knowledge about a certain topic can be a major disadvantage. An article in Elite Daily says that rather than benefiting a person, “having too much information on a subject can curse a person into thinking they need to figure it all out before they get started.” (Choi) A person with too much knowledge tends to overthink data which can lead to anxiety. For example, when my principal told people that our school had received a threat, I began to worry about the school’s safety and other facts that I would not have been worrying about had he not told us.
Overall, it is clear that a person should not perform any actions to an extent where they become excessive. Every person living in today’s society needs to learn to balance everything and never have an excess amount of one thing. Even having too much of a positive emotion such as love or kindness can lead to a dangerous situation. In life, a person should live by the words inscribed at the Temple of Apollo in order to live a happy, balanced life.