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Barnaby Rudge
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The Dickens Project - Archives > Barnaby Rudge - Chapters 41- 46

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments I hope that the next SIX chapters do not disappoint us and will lead to a fruitful and interesting discussion. The novel is gaining its momentum.


message 2: by Zulfiya (last edited Sep 16, 2012 10:32PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments This section is extremely panoramic – we witness the scenes of a familial life in the Vardens’ household, we learn that Dolly might still be anxious every time the name of Joe Willet is mentioned. We also know that Mr. Haredale mostly spends his evenings in the humble abode of Barnaby and his mother and is visited by Mr. Varden. And we observe the ugly scenes of hatred, xenophobia, and mob rule.

We all mentioned in our previous post that Mr. Gordon is not a leading character, but the one who is led, and it becomes even more obvious in this section. Gashford is a dirty manipulative character, and he is willing to sacrifice everything and even kill people to achieve his goals.

On the other hand, the character of Mr. Haredale is becoming more and more fleshed out, and we are learning about his true colors. And they are beautiful, loyal, and noble colors. His brave heart despite his initial roughness, his willingness to find the widow, and even his audacity to challenge the mob are the factors why this middle-aged man is my favorite character right now. He also knows something about Mr. Gashford that makes Mr. Gashford feel threatened and spurs him to seek some radical means to secure his position.

Eventually we meet Barnaby and his mother again. But their humble and idyllic life seems to have been undermined by an evil messenger and a proxy for some mysterious blackmailer. Hence, Barnaby and his mother are on the run again. I also would like to notice that Dickens again defied our expectations. His description of the messenger is deliberately elusive and deceptive. He first sounds like a tired, lonely blind stranger, but he shows his true ugly face only to Mrs. Rudge. And who is this mysterious stranger that makes Mrs. Rudge give all her savings and scares her so much that she decides to leave her peaceful life again only for a hope of anonymity in London?

Here is the nugget that I really liked. It warns us that religion that initially is supposed to bring peace and serenity actually harbors a highly explosive potential to exploit the worst passions.
While the worst passions of the worst men were thus working in the dark, and the mantle of religion, assumed to cover the ugliest deformities, threatened to become the shroud of all that was good and peaceful in society, a circumstance occurred which once more altered the position of two persons from whom this history has long been separated, and to whom it must now return.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments And I am not anti-religious, and some of the church messages are extremely positive and life-affirming, and true exploration of human spirituality is very exciting and equally useful. On the other hand, I am anti-dogmatic, and I poorly handle bigotry, evangelical fanaticism and fundamentalism of any religion.


Hedi | 989 comments Unfortunately, I have not been able to read all of these chapters yet, but I thought of posting at least the running titles:

Ch. 41: The Harmonious Locksmith. Dolly Varden still! Hysterical magnanimity of Miss Miggs. The Locksmith's Mission.
Ch. 42: A grim Watchman.
Ch. 43: The No-Popery Cry arises. Freedom among friends. A stone from an unseen hand.
Ch. 44: The Green Lanes. Muster Gashford's health!
Ch. 45: All is not gold that glitters. There are several sorts of blindness.
Ch. 46: Blind, but open-eyed. Au revoir!

As I have not read everything the titles seem very intriguing. Maybe I will get to these chapters in the next couple of days.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments They are quite facetious. Business as usual with Dickens. :-)


message 6: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2227 comments Mod
The way a mob can be turned to violence, ostensibly in the name of religion, is on display right now around the world. I don't remember if Hugh had an old grievance against Mr Haredale? in addition to just being eager to hurt anyone.

The way Dickens describes Barnaby and his mother's life in the country reminded me of other books (Oliver Twist, Old Curiosity & even Nickleby) where it is easier and pleasanter to be poor in the country than in the city. You have the consolations of nature and beauty instead of slums and factories (and crowds of other people)


message 7: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1932 comments Mod
Several interesting character twists appear-I found the meeting between Haredale (who, as Zulfiya mentioned, proved himself to be brave if somewhat foolhardy but certainly someone who would stand up to bullies and those he believed to be in the wrong) and Chester Sr (still unpleasant, but at least not one to blindly follow the crowd and certainly not one to suffer fools) and Gashford brought up some interesting speculation about their joint past in a Catholic school while John Grueby surprisingly showed himself to be perhaps a good man at heart despite his current associates.

Dolly has clearly turned down many suitors in the intervening 5 years and her reaction when talk turns to Joe Willet suggests him as the likely motive for her staying single-she clearly regrets her behaviour towards him on his last night outside the army. Does everyone know what has happened to him? It wasn't clear to me if the Vardens knew he had enlisted or if they thought he had simply run away from home and disappeared. An amusing snippet about Miggs and the collection box and her earning back her donations in gifts. Her manipulation of the Varden's is comic genius.

I don't know what to make of Mrs Rudge's current situation or what holds her in thrall to her blackmailer (I presume the thief we met in the 1st chapter) and why Haredale is guarding or staking out their house in London.


message 8: by Lynnm (last edited Sep 23, 2012 04:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynnm | 3027 comments The protests are about politics and power, not religion. (Reminds me of an interview with Salman Rushdie recently who said the same thing about the current protests - he called it "manufactured outrage").

In BR, I don't think Gordon wants power - for him at least, it is about "religion" or what he perceives Protestantism to be.

But Gashford is definitely in it for the power - and quite frankly, politics actually has the same role as religion - about the power.

The more I see of Mr. Heredale, the more I like him. As already posted, what he did was foolish, but at least he's standing up for what is right.

As for the mystery surrounding Mrs. Rudge, I think we've already pretty much quessed who the culprits are who are tormenting her and making her run, but why still feels somehow part of the crime and feels that she has to run rather than turning to the law is still up in the air.

And Barnaby shows his good side - all the talk about money is merely to help his mother, so that she has a better life and so that she doesn't have to work so hard.


Lynnm | 3027 comments Frances wrote: "Dolly has clearly turned down many suitors in the intervening 5 years and her reaction when talk turns to Joe Willet suggests him as the likely motive for her staying single-she clearly regrets her behaviour towards him on his last night outside the army. Does everyone know what has happened to him? "

I hope Joe shows up again soon...I liked his character. I have a feeling that he's going to be part of the military who is called in to control and stop the riots against the Catholics.

But I could be wrong.... :-)


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments I also hope to see Joe again. Dolly is still single, fickle and pampered, but single. I think the riot might be a crunch time for her ...


message 11: by Hedi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hedi | 989 comments Sorry, I have only just now finished all of these chapters. You have already mentioned the most important aspects.

The scenes at the locksmith's house are truly comical each time they are mentioned. Gabriel Varden is despite his wife's Protestant enthusiasm still this good-natured person. I thought that his attitude was even reflected by the way the light streams into his house.
As mentioned, Dolly seems to truly miss Joe and regret her inactiveness when he left. Lynnm, I was also thinking that he might come back as a soldier when the Gordon Riots get to their peak.

Like you all, I am really starting to enjoy Mr. Haredale's character. His life as a Catholic in England seems not that easy and it is interesting that he, the manipulative Gashford and Chester Sr share the history of jointly having been educated in Catholic France -
3 characters who develop so differently and in such a way that the 2 Protestant ones appear to be either vain and idle or manipulative and power-seeking and the Catholic, supposedly the "bad" religion, appears to be sincere and honorable.

I was also reminded of the quiet country scenes in the other works of Dickens, when reading about the Rudges again. They almost seem to be on the run the way the old man and Nelly were. There it was Mr. Quilp, who haunted and chased them, and here it seems to be the link to the Haredale mystery. What I did not quite understand was that Mrs. Rudge mentioned what she actually could affect, but she has not done, possibly due to fear. However, supposing that the mentioned person is the strange highwayman we encountered previously, he only seems to have the blind man as his friend. Does that person really have enough power to blackmail her or is there more behind it/ are there more people involved?

As already mentioned, too, Dickens plays with the mankind's "prejudices" here. Who would think of an old, poor, blind person to be so deceitful, conspiring and threatening and he even mentions that finding this kind of behavior in a blind person makes it look worse:
"... It's the cant of you folks to be horrified if a blind man robs, or lies, or steals; oh yes, it's far worse in him, ..."


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