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Barnaby Rudge
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The Dickens Project - Archives > Barnaby Rudge - Chapters 53- 57

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments It is all very uncertain and touch and go in the next FIVE chapters of the novel. Please post your thoughts below.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Well, politics, you are ruling the novel right now. And I am not complaining. Dickens is actually brilliantly describing the mob psychology - there are the leaders and the led, there are people that can be called the think tank, and there are the simple executioners. And Gashford is definitely the elite of the mob movement. His attitude, his posture, his serenity with which he observes the mob in action are unpleasant but very revealing about how riots and revolutions are plotted and led.
If there is a mob, there should be victims. And they are numerous in our novel. These are the people whose houses were plundered, looted, pillaged, and burned. This is definitely Mr. Haredale whose estate was the prime target of the attack. This is poor Barnaby who has been misguided and arrested because of his naïve and romantic ideals. And I am afraid Grip will be the unwilling witness against him with its amazing ability to memorize the verbal tricks. And there is Mr. Willet, whose Maypole was looted, plundered, and left in shatters and in total disarray. I do not exactly feel sorry for him, but I think he is an example that everybody, good, bad, and mediocre alike, could fall victims to the uncontrollable mob, especially if it is charged with alcohol.
Mr. Willet’s involuntary ‘chair-bound’ situation is also a plot trick for us to witness the ghost, the phantom, and the person whose identity is yet to be disclosed. And I think we finally learn that it is Mr. Rudge, who was first accused of killing his master, and then the guilt was exonerated as he was ostensibly found murdered, and now Mr. Haredale accused him again. Hmmm. Or was it the case of mistaken identity? After all, it was only Mr. Haredale who accused him and addressed him. It is still very much uncertain with this plot line.
And what about Ned and Joe? And Miss Haredale? Is she safe? Did she have enough time to find shelter? What about the Vardens? Hopefully, we will get some answers soon.
As a final point I would like to state that I enjoy how Dickens intertwines politics and personal histories. And it is obvious that Dickens does not like politics and finds the whole business dirty and messy. So, in all the previous novels we read, Dickens hardly ever mentions politics and politicians (with the only exception of the chapter in PP when he describes the politics of a small town), but this novel is an exception. It is surprising, nonetheless, that Dickens actually was one of the those writers who had the clout to change the situation inside the country – his slight and criticism of boarding schools, working houses, orphanages, and debt prisons changed the public opinion and eventually led to political changes.


Hedi | 804 comments Here are this week's running titles:

Ch. 53: A Proclamation out. Mischief still increasing.
Ch. 54: The Maypole Oracle. Sacrilege in the Sanctuary. Away to the Warren.
Ch. 55: The alarm-bell. Sacked and Plundered.
Ch. 56: The Horseman. The Oracle speaks.
Ch. 57: A proud time for Barnaby. Mad, my Lord. Barnaby taken.

As I said in the previous thread, I have just started these chapters, but the titles seem to prove some of the speculations we were discussing earlier. (Zulfiya, I have not read your comments yet in order to avoid the spoilers.)


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

Robin | 1083 comments Mod
The descriptions of the looting and burning of the Maypole and the house are so vivid - especially how a burning building gets out of control. Dickens must have observed fires in his time writing for newspapers, or in his walks about town. The hollowed-out buildings after the mob has left offer such a sad image. At this point we don't know what is going to happen to any of our main characters.


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

Frances (FrancesAB) | 1169 comments Mod
The sacking of the Maypole and the strange behaviour of Hugh-at once urging the crowd to completely vandalize the house and yet protection John Willet from harm-were unexpected. I agree with Zulfiya-we don't exactly pity John Willet-he seemed to ignore the oncoming threat so wilfully and left himself completely open to whatever followed-and yet I suspect if his business survives this he will be a deeply changed man. (I must admit I started to wonder if there was anything like insurance that Willet and Haredale could call upon to help them recover or if they would both be ruined by the riots). There were a couple of mentions of 2 women at the Haredale estate-was Dolly there with Emma?

Is the 1-armed soldier Joe? If so I am for some reason reminded of the blinded Mr Rochester of Jane Eyre-does a disabling injury somehow represent other losses in their lives that they must overcome?

I was saddened to see Simon Tappertit with the mob that sacked the Warren-he seems definitely to have turned out to be "bad" rather than simply misguided or foolish. It was also brilliant the way Dickens shows the rioters almost intentionally throwing themselves in harms way-really playing on the idea that they have lost all sense of what is right and reasonable.


Christopher I did not feel much compassion for the state of the rioters, but it was quite graphic how the man had burning molten lead flow off the roof as he lay in a drunken stupor upon the lawn. I sure hope that in this day people had some sort of homeowners insurance - I know there was insurance for sailing ships through Lloyd's of London.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Christopher wrote: "I did not feel much compassion for the state of the rioters, but it was quite graphic how the man had burning molten lead flow off the roof as he lay in a drunken stupor upon the lawn. I sure hope ..."

This is the same question that I kept asking when I was reading this passage.


message 8: by Amanda (last edited Oct 02, 2012 08:25PM) (new)

Amanda Garrett (AmandaElizabeth1) | 154 comments Zulfiya wrote: "Christopher wrote: "I did not feel much compassion for the state of the rioters, but it was quite graphic how the man had burning molten lead flow off the roof as he lay in a drunken stupor upon th..."

I looked the question of insurance up on the Internet and I couldn't really figure out if people did have home owner's insurance in the 18th century.

The city of London and the English government did pay compensation to some of the victims according to this Web site

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06649...

Below is an excerpt. Mr, Langdale was a Catholic whose distillery business was destroyed by the rioters.

"The sum eventually paid to the Catholics is said to have been 28,219 pounds from the city, and 5200 pounds from the Government. Mr. Langdale put his losses at 100,000 pounds, but refused compensation, receiving instead leave to distill spirits for a year free of impost, and thereby (so runs the story) made up handsomely the damage he had suffered."

To my surprise my Google search turned up a lot of information about the 2011 protests in Britain over government spending cuts. Apparently, many business owners who had their property looted and/or destroyed were uninsured or didn't have enough insurance to get back to business. Link below:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug...


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Amanda, thank you for the educative links you have post. They actually help to understand the historical context of the novel.


Lynnm | 3027 comments Zulfiya - congrats on officially becoming a moderator for the group! Woot! :-)


message 11: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Garrett (AmandaElizabeth1) | 154 comments Zulfiya wrote: "Amanda, thank you for the educative links you have post. They actually help to understand the historical context of the novel."

No problem. I'm really enjoying the Dickens read and learning from what everyone else has to say. It's fun to share the things I find on the Internet with everyone.

I'll also add my congratulations to Zulifya being named moderator!


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Lynnm and Amanda. Thank you so much. My humble domain is the Dickens project. I hope I will be able to help Silver more as soon as I feel more surefooted.

Amanda, as you have already noticed, this novel has this amazing feeling of modernity, with so many ideas, emotions, and feelings still on the agenda of our modern life.


message 13: by Lynnm (last edited Oct 08, 2012 06:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynnm | 3027 comments Definitely powerful chapters. As everyone has stated, the vivid descriptions of the mob were impactful. It really gives the reader a view into the minds of the mob.

There are a lot of unanswered questions. As people said, where is Joe? Ned? What happened to Dolly and Miss Haredale?

Dickens leaves us hanging with Mr. Haredale coming upon the man who he calls Mr. Rudge. Mr. Rudge, the steward, who is supposed to be dead, murdered by the gardener along with Reuben Haredale. And yet, Mr. Haredale calls him the murderer. Obviously, there was a misidentification of the body when the murders occur.

Poor Barnaby - he's starting to realize that all is not well. And from what we know about the Brits at that time, not much compassion in the courts. So doubt that there will be any reprieve for Barnaby because of his mental disability. Hope I'm wrong.

Don't mean to be repetitive, but I wish everyone would read this book. It would be very helpful in understanding world events today.


message 14: by Hedi (last edited Oct 13, 2012 09:25AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hedi | 804 comments Lynnm wrote: "Don't mean to be repetitive, but I wish everyone would read this book. It would be very helpful in understanding world events today. ..."

I have just finished the chapters and I fully agree with you, Lynnm. I liked Dickens's description of the insanity that these events seem to provoke in mankind. The mentioned scenes in the Warren where the rioters more or less die of their own lust to destroy. Something we have often seen in history and still today, unfortunately, and which is often so hard to believe that people can be driven that far.


message 15: by Lynnm (last edited Oct 13, 2012 02:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynnm | 3027 comments There is a difference between a protest that is for a worthy cause (the suffragettes, civil rights, etc.) and a mob that is only due to hatred.

Although to play devil's advocate, sometimes those who feel as if they have nothing to lose because they believe that they have been treated unfairly and have no money or opportunities, lash out at the easiest target - usually a group that has no power or voice.

Which doesn't make it right - but is an explanation of their actions.

I don't believe, however, that Dickens feels that is the case here. He is painting them as a good for nothing mob (and I agree!).


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