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Barnaby Rudge
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The Dickens Project - Archives > Barnaby Rudge - Chapters 47- 52

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message 1: by Zulfiya (last edited Sep 23, 2012 09:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments It is that time again. Please post your thoughts below. The book is really taking a turn for a more dramatic resolution.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments These six chapters are very turbulent. Some of us hoped that Joe could come back, but so far, there is not a single trace of Joe (hopefully he will be back as well as Ned). Instead, the narrative is still very masculine, but the other male characters are moving the plot forward. And they are mostly either villains or misguided individuals.
Poor Barnaby is a liability – his adventurous nature and eagerness to enjoy life due to his somewhat naïve outlook eventually trapped him into the grip of the mob. And it is not a simple mob of spontaneous existence; it is an orchestrated mob of hatred. And poor, poor Mrs. Rudge; she is not only on the perpetual quest to find a humble but secure place for her son, she is now abandoned, and we can only speculate what is going through her mind when she does not know anything about the destiny of her loving but feeble-minded son. She was thrown to the ground; the whole filed was in motion; Barnaby was whirled away into the heart of a dense mass of men, and she saw him no more. Dickens is very laconic about her side of the story, but I think this biased perspective (readers could only see what is happening to Barnaby and the ilk led by Hugh and Dennis) actually leaves a very painful and dramatic aftertaste.
The description of the mob is amazing in its realism and terrifying in its destructive and annihilating power and hatred. This mob is alive, and in the description quoted below I can feel the pulsating energy of chaos and bigotry. Through this vast throng, sprinkled doubtless here and there with honest zealots, but composed for the most part of the very scum and refuse of London, whose growth was fostered by bad criminal laws, bad prison regulations, and the worst conceivable police, such of the members of both Houses of Parliament as had not taken the precaution to be already at their posts, were compelled to fight and force their way. Their carriages were stopped and broken; the wheels wrenched off; the glasses shivered to atoms; the panels beaten in; drivers, footmen, and masters, pulled from their seats and rolled in the mud. Lords, commoners, and reverend bishops, with little distinction of person or party, were kicked and pinched and hustled; passed from hand to hand through various stages of ill-usage; and sent to their fellow-senators at last with their clothes hanging in ribands about them, their bagwigs torn off, themselves speechless and breathless, and their persons covered with the powder which had been cuffed and beaten out of their hair. Dickens masterfully ‘ignores’ adjectives, and relies mainly on nouns and verbs to show this massive, uncontrollable, and intractable monster in action.
And one more point, I feel sorry for this comical idiot, Sim. He is a misguided pathetic young man, but as Mr. Varden said, he might be one of the scapegoats of the No-Popery riots. And despite the sad prediction, this chapter was hilarious. Dickens did not lose his comical touch even in the most turbulent moment of the novel.


message 3: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2067 comments Mod
Terrific summary, Zulfiya! You are right about all the wonderful verbs Dickens uses - wrenched, shivered, kicked, pinched, hustled, etc. The 2 lords who stood up to the mob were impressive in that they showed no fear.

Although Dickens often defends the common people, here he shows how they can be led astray and become a force for evil. The mob spirit is totally recognizable to us today, the rumors and outright lies to whip up more emotion, the way crowds can gather and disperse (without Twitter!)


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Thank you, Robin. I truly love this project. It gave me a chance to pursue my wild dream to read all the maestro's novels. Dickens and his novels are an excellent topic for a small talk:-)
Dickens was not a paragon of virtue as a family man, but when it comes to magnifying social issues, his critical and observant 'eye' was quite objective.


message 5: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1804 comments Mod
Agreed-great summary-the mob scene was quite terrifying and it was also sad near the end when Hugh and Dennis decide to go out and vandalize a few catholic homes and buildings and nothing is done-as Dickens says, a few good soldiers or a group of citizens could have stopped them but everyone stayed hidden.

One of my favourite scenes in this section is when Barnaby and his mother go to the gentleman's home to display Grip in hopes of earning a little money. The characterization of the gentleman in all his prejudiced, vulgar, bullying, selfish, self-satisfied, ignorant glory as the epitome of the 'thorough-bred Englishman' is hilarious, but then Dickens tempers it with the kindness of his wife (who sends out a generous payment after them), and the quickness and play-acting of the servant who passes it on to them shows that this sort of deception of the master must have been quite a common thing in that household. This serves to demonstrate that both gentlewoman and servant could show kindness and generosity to their fellow human, but also demonstrates again how skilled the "powerless"-in this case the wife and the servant-often were in getting their own way without "John Bull" ever knowing it was happening.


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

Robin P | 2067 comments Mod
Thanks for reminding us of that scene, Frances, it made me think of Quilp and his wife. It seems like it's totally irrelevant to our story, but Dickens makes a remark about how it will have an effect later on in the story.


Lynnm | 3027 comments Haven't finished this section yet but wanted to share this.

Was jsut reading the Sunday NY Times Book Review. They interviewed Emma Thompson and asked her what literary character she always wanted to play. Her answer:Barnaby Rudge. Her reason: she says she has been in love with him for 35 years.

She also thinks the character could.be played as a boy or girl, and that she has always wanted to explore her inner idiot.

So far I can't say that I love Barnaby's character. Hopefully in the coming chaptrrs I will see why Ms. Thompson has loved him for 35 years. :-)

Although I am loving the book as a whole!


message 8: by Zulfiya (last edited Sep 25, 2012 10:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments You know, Lynnm, there is definitely a certain unisex streak in Barnaby. He is not sexually mature due to his disability, and actually it would be a neat post-modern gender-bender twist. The 2002 version of Nicholas Nickleby, starring Charlie Hunnam and Alan Cumming, actually has explored the sexual ambiguity of some of the actors in the troupe of Mr. Crummles. And I thought it was bold, audacious, and fun. So I can actually visualize Barnaby Rudge as a unisex character.


message 9: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Garrett (amandaelizabeth1) | 154 comments Zulfiya wrote: "You know, Lynnm, there is definitely a certain unisex streak in Barnaby. He is not sexually mature due to his disability, and actually it would be a neat post-modern gender-bender twist. The 2002 v..."

I do believe Emma Thompson played the fool in "King Lear" on stage so she may be a good fit for Barnaby. The fool is usually played by a man but gender doesn't really matter for that character and I don't think it would really matter for Barnaby either.

I was looking up some information on the Gordon Riots and I found this Web site with lots of interesting information about the riots and where they took place: http://awalkinhistory.blogspot.com/


message 10: by Zulfiya (last edited Sep 25, 2012 08:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Wow, Amanda, super! And loads of pictures!


Lynnm | 3027 comments Zulfiya wrote: "You know, Lynnm, there is definitely a certain unisex streak in Barnaby. He is not sexually mature due to his disability, and actually it would be a neat post-modern gender-bender twist. The 2002 v..."

It would be a great gender-bender twist!

Loved the Nicholas Nickleby adaptation with Charlie Hunnam and Alan Cumming. Alan Cumming is such an amazingly brilliant actor, who really doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

(And sorry for all the typos in my original post. I typed it up on my tablet, and didn't realize how bad it was until I saw it this morning on my regular computer.)


message 12: by Lynnm (last edited Sep 28, 2012 06:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynnm | 3027 comments Some thoughts on this section:

- I can't help but think of current events when I'm reading Barnaby Rudge. One on hand, you have the type of mob that Dickens describes in the Gordon Riots: uneducated, unruly, and brutal, who are driven by blind hatred because they feel that somehow, somewhere in life they haven't been treated well, and they want to take it out on someone, anyone. Mobs that all manipulated by those who want power and political gain.

But it is that type of mob that makes true peaceful protest against something that is truly wrong in society so difficult. People are afraid to become part of protests out of fear of what may happen or that they will be perceived as part of a blind mob.

- I don't have a good feeling about Barnaby's fate: a bounty on his head, the hangman, meeting the English "gentleman" who is a commissioner of peace.

- I agree with the other posters who said that the chapter with the Vardens, Miggs, and Sim was funny. I also think that Sim is merely misguided, not a villain. Although his plans towards the end of the last chapter that we read might turn him in that direction - abducting a young lady. It can only be Dolly....


message 13: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Garrett (amandaelizabeth1) | 154 comments Lynnm wrote: "Some thoughts on this section:

- I can't help but think of current events when I'm reading Barnaby Rudge. One on hand, you have the type of mob that Dickens describes in the Gordon Riots: uneducat..."


According to what I've read about the Gordon Riots, Dickens was pretty accurate in his description of the people involved in the riots.

Most of them really could have cared less about the Protestant Cause. They were just frustrated and angry. They lashed out at any symbol of authority they could find such as the prisons and the Bank of England.

The Gordon Riots are a sort of prelude to the French Revolution, which of course we'll read much more about in A Tale of Two Cities. It is interesting that the English government could get the rioters under control, while the French government could not.


message 14: by Hedi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hedi | 954 comments Sorry, I am late again, but currently busy at work and home that I hardly find the peace and quiet to read.

Here are this week's running titles:
Ch. 47: Two Poor Travellers. The old school.
Ch. 48:Arrival among the Cockades. Barnaby enrolled. Barnaby made a Banner Bearer.
Ch. 49: Splendid prospects for Barnaby. Down at the House. The Riot Act read.
Ch. 50: No orders whatever. Mischief progressing.
Ch.51: Ally Looyer! Simmuns! Mr. Tappertit's warning. The Locksmith rises with the occasion.
Ch. 52: Barnaby on Sentry. Mischief progressing.


message 15: by Hedi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hedi | 954 comments You have all already mentioned the most important aspects.
Lynnm, I am, too, comparing the scenes with the mob with current events or later events in history.

I am really curious to see what is going to happen, as the mischief being prepared in the latest chapter seems to me to go into Mr. Haredale's direction.
Maybe Joe and Ned will appear then to their rescue, as they have not shown up yet, but that is just speculation...


message 16: by Hedi (last edited Sep 30, 2012 10:43AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hedi | 954 comments Lynnm wrote: "Some thoughts on this section:

- I don't have a good feeling about Barnaby's fate: a bounty on his head, the hangman, meeting the English "gentleman" who is a commissioner of peace.
..."


I am thinking the same. In the beginning, we speculated about his character so much and about his possibility to develop, but at the moment I cannot see this. He is still this feeble-minded, naive man, who does not really see what is going on. He is kind and thinking of is mother, but does not really seem to understand what is going on. Maybe this will change, but I am not very hopeful.


message 17: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2067 comments Mod
It was interesting to find out where the expression "read the Riot Act" came from. The notes in my book say that once this was invoked, those who refused to disperse could be prosecuted.


Lynnm | 3027 comments Hedi wrote: "I am really curious to see what is going to happen, as the mischief being prepared in the latest chapter seems to me to go into Mr. Haredale's direction.
Maybe Joe and Ned will appear then to their rescue, as they have not shown up yet, but that is just speculation... "


It is all moving towards Haredale's home.

And I'm getting a bit impatient for Joe and Ned to come back into the story. Mr. Dickens is toying with us. ;)


message 19: by Lynnm (last edited Sep 30, 2012 04:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynnm | 3027 comments Hedi wrote: "He is still this feeble-minded, naive man, who does not really see what is going on. He is kind and thinking of is mother, but does not really seem to understand what is going on. Maybe this will change, but I am not very hopeful. "

And from what we can see about the English legal system from these books, it doesn't appear as if the law will have any compassion for Barnaby given his mental disabilities. If he is caught...which I hope that he isn't, but Dickens makes us suffer so I have a feeling that he will be caught.


Lynnm | 3027 comments Hedi wrote: "Sorry, I am late again, but currently busy at work and home that I hardly find the peace and quiet to read.

Here are this week's running titles:
Ch. 47: Two Poor Travellers. The old school.
Ch. 48..."



Thanks for posting the titles. They really add to the reading.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Lynnm wrote: "Hedi wrote: "Sorry, I am late again, but currently busy at work and home that I hardly find the peace and quiet to read.

Here are this week's running titles:
Ch. 47: Two Poor Travellers. The old s..."


They really do, especially if you first read without the titles and then look back at the chapters you have just read and discussed. So, in my case, it is more like a 'post-shadowing' instead of foreshadowing:-)A truly unique perspective. Thank you, Hedi!


message 22: by Hedi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hedi | 954 comments You are welcome, Lynnm and Zulfiya, and I have to admit, even though I have those in my appendix, I usually look at them after having finished the chapters.
However, I have not finished the next chapters yet, but have a little bit of time right now, so I will post the new ones in the new thread right away.


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