Charles Dickens Long Fiction Analysis
The “Dickens World,” as Humphrey House calls it, is one of sharp moral contrast, a world in which the self-seeking—imprisoned in their egotism—rub shoulders with the altruistic, freed from the demands of self by concern for others; a world in which the individual achieves selfhood by creating a “home” whose virtues of honesty and compassion are proof against the dehumanizing “System”; a world in which all things are animate and where, indeed, metaphors for moral perversity take on lives of their own, like the miasma of evil that hangs above the houses in Dombey and Son.
Many of Charles Dickens’s most memorable characters are those whose language or personality traits are superbly comic: Sairey Gamp, the bibulous nurse in Martin Chuzzlewit, with her constant reference to the fictitious Mrs. ’Arris; Flora Finching, the parodic reincarnation of a stout, garrulous Maria Beadnell in Little Dorrit; and Turveydrop, the antediluvian dandy in Bleak House. Providing characters with distinguishing traits is, of course, a dramatic device (to see red hair and a handkerchief is to be reminded of Fagin, and knitting, of Mme DeFarge); more important, however, such traits carry a moral resonance. While Dickens’s villains grow more complex as his writing matures, most share an overriding egotism that causes them to treat people as things. Perhaps that is why things become animate; in a world in which human traits...
(The entire section is 4658 words.)
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