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Barnaby Rudge
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The Dickens Project - Archives > Barnaby Rudge - Chapters 58 - 62

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments We are past the zenith of this novel and inevitably coming closer to the end of this journey. This week we are discussing the next FIVE chapters (58-62). Please post your thoughts below.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments I believe the plot in the novel is going through the most turbulent phase. The action fluctuates between different plot lines, and we are witnessing more and more revelations.
We definitely learn about the destiny of two lady-birds, Dolly and Emma. They are both kept captives, and Hugh’s behavior towards them is truly obnoxious. Is it only my feeling or do you also feel the same uneasy sinister feeling when you read the pages about Hugh who was trying to kiss the ladies? I would say in the frame of the Victorian world, you can hardly come closer in literature to sexual harassment.
And yes, young ladies are typical examples of the naïve and feeble creatures that populate the Dickens universe. That’s why I actually find Miggs more attractive and interesting as a character. She is not the fragile and righteous victim incarnate.
The destiny of Barnaby is uncertain. Knowing how happy the government would be to find a scapegoat to make up for their incompetence, I am sure Barnaby’s fate is bleak. Let’s just hope that this naïve and misguided young man will be released, but I am afraid that there had to be inevitable casualties, and Barnaby seems to be a perfect candidate because he is hardly ever able to defend himself.
And the nefarious Mr. Rudge, who was rejected by his wife for his heinous crimes, comes back. We now know who has been tormenting and trying poor Mrs. Rudge. One should only admire her integrity – she never could accept what he did, but she could never truly betray him. Oh, this poor woman, how much woes and troubles could her heart handle?
And despite the numerous twists and turns of the plot and the subsequent revelations, Dickens still manages to demonstrate his ability to show life in its panoramic perspective. The description of Fleet Market was superb. The sounds, smells, movements were perceivable through pages and through time. Fleet Market, at that time, was a long irregular row of wooden sheds and penthouses, occupying the centre of what is now called Farringdon Street. They were jumbled together in a most unsightly fashion, in the middle of the road; to the great obstruction of the thoroughfare and the annoyance of passengers, who were fain to make their way, as they best could, among carts, baskets, barrows, trucks, casks, bulks, and benches, and to jostle with porters, hucksters, waggoners, and a motley crowd of buyers, sellers, pick-pockets, vagrants, and idlers. The air was perfumed with the stench of rotten leaves and faded fruit; the refuse of the butchers' stalls, and offal and garbage of a hundred kinds. It was indispensable to most public conveniences in those days, that they should be public nuisances likewise; and Fleet Market maintained the principle to admiration. The bird’s eye view in the description truly animates the place and breathes life into it.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments As you can see, I have not covered very important points in the summary. I hope it will only stimulate the discussion. Besides, I have already said too much;-) Nonetheless, I still want to comment on the topicality of the novel. It is obviously not the best book Dickens wrote, but as Lynnm mentioned, this is a book most modern politicians should read. Just saying ...


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Robin | 1074 comments Mod
For the time, the sex and violence are quite strong. That might be part of what made the book less popular than others of Dickens. Hugh seems an incarnation of the devil. In the middle of all this horror, there's the ludicrous idea of Sim giving Miggs to Hugh. I'm sure she wouldn't faint or weep as Emma and Dolly do. (You can tell Emma is higher class by the fainting!)
While London is in crisis, Mr Haredale arrives with a murderer from years before. Catching him was more important to Haredale than the state of his home or his family. That seems to be the only thing that gets the Lord Mayor's attention, as otherwise he is quite annoyed by people having their homes burnt just so they can aggravate him (as he sees it)


Lynnm | 3027 comments I've only read the first chapter, but I have to say, I don't like reading about Barnaby being locked up.

Still love the book, but it definitely is much more graphic than Dickens' other books.


message 6: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Frances (FrancesAB) | 1162 comments Mod
I don't think I had quite expected the level of violence that has occurred in this book, and it certainly seems as if both Hugh and Sim targeted the young women quite directly and that both seem to have designs on Dolly-Joe and young Mr Chester had better appear quickly! Earlier, I kept expecting something to happen to save the Warren and I had not expected the women to end up so entirely in the clutches of the mob.

Gabriel Varden once again shows himself to be the bravest and smartest of the lot as he cleverly prevents the storming of his house by training his weapon on his door, however he is foiled by a clever (and yet very foolish) woman. His continued resistance to the mob beyond this point is similar to that seen by Haredale earlier in the book. Where is Mrs Varden through all this?

Much has been made of Barnaby's disabilities, but does it strike anyone else that Hugh is really strange? He seems manic to me-the high energy, the inappropriate high volume laughing, the somewhat grandiose ideas, the lack of sleep-it is quite a change from the somewhat withdrawn character we met earlier in the novel. It seems something of a portrait of untreated bipolar disorder.

Still, some wonderful comic moments as well-Miggs at the window and Sim convinced that he is in charge of the mob.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Frances, very astute observations. And I also feel that there are some plot inconsistencies - Dickens has shifted his focus on more cameo characters and turned the main ones into invisible ghosts.

But I also think there are some spoilers in your post:-) I am obviously reading ahead due to my obligations as a moderator and because I am truly intrigued both by the plot, the unprecedented violence, and by the question why Dickens is hiding our very young and romantic characters - Joe and Ed ...

And a very good point about the bi-polar disorder. His behavior is definitely unpredictable, volatile, and erratic.


Hedi | 804 comments Sorry for not having posted anything anymore. I am stuck in chapter 55 and have not had the chance to read for the last 10 days due to many hours of work. Hopefully, I can catch up a little this weekend, but job comes first at the moment.

At least, I would like to quote the running titles for this week:

Ch. 58: Barnaby in the black hole. Barnaby marched off.
Ch. 59: Birds in a cage. The birds much fluttered. Mr. Tappertit declares his love.
Ch. 60: Beware of the Boot. Down with the jails!
Ch. 61: Th Right Honourable the Lord Mayor. The murderer laid in hold.
Ch. 62: Confession. Comfort.

To not spoil my read, I have not paid attention to your comments yet, but the titles sound as if there might be some answers to our questions in these chapters.


Lynnm | 3027 comments First, Dolly and Emma. I expected Emma to faint, etc. (Rolling eyes as I read it and type it.) But am surprised at Dolly - I thought she would have more gumption than to cry throughout the entire ordeal.

Second, the only mystery left over the Reuben Haredale murder is why Rudge murdered him. Rudge said that they stood eye to eye, but we still don't know why.

Third, I agree with Frances that Hugh is really strange. He definitely has something wrong with him. When we first saw him, all he did was sleep. Then, I actually felt sorry for him when Mr. Chester was using him. But now, he's crazy!

Lastly, father and son in jail. I hope Rudge gets what is coming to him, but I fear for poor Barnaby. Can Dickens be so cruel as to let him get the maximum punishment (i.e., as the book says, "swing")? Unfortunately, knowing dickens, yes, he could be that cruel. ;)

I finally know why Emma Thompson said that Barnaby was one of her favorite characters. I won't go as far as to say that he's a "favorite," but I do feel so much for him since he was taken prisoner.

And his mother. In "protecting" Rudge but not telling the authorities what she knew, she did what she thought was best. She's not a bad person. And she obviously cares so much for Barnaby, and has always tried to protect him.


Lynnm | 3027 comments A possibly silly question.

Since Dennis is a hangman, why would he become involved in the riots, knowing what he knows happens to people who break the law?

It's been bothering me... :-)


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Dennis is just a wacko! And Hugh is definitely bi-polar. A very good observation, Frances and Lynnm. I think Dickens was tinkering with the idea of madness and mental affliction. His previous novel, OCS, reflects his previous interest into the human psyche. I mean Dickens is a great literary psychologist and his archetypes are amazing, but during this time-span he was using mentally and emotionally disturbed characters quite routinely.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Hedi wrote: "Sorry for not having posted anything anymore. I am stuck in chapter 55 and have not had the chance to read for the last 10 days due to many hours of work. Hopefully, I can catch up a little this we..."

Thank you, Hedi. Hopefully you will be able to relax and read. :-)


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Robin | 1074 comments Mod
The "I am your father" line made me think of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker! Mr Rudge certainly represents the dark side of life and Barnaby the innocent, if not exactly good. Of course Lucas used the father/son drama because it's an ancient archetype and I'm sure Dickens perceived that as well. Even if this was before Freud, there's the Biblical statement about the sins of the fathers being visited on the sons, that seems to be the case with Barnaby (maybe with Joe & Edward as well)


message 14: by Hedi (last edited Oct 14, 2012 05:01AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hedi | 804 comments Zulfiya wrote: "Dennis is just a wacko! And Hugh is definitely bi-polar. A very good observation, Frances and Lynnm. I think Dickens was tinkering with the idea of madness and mental affliction. His previous novel..."

I do not know that much about bi-polar disorder, just that it includes phases of deep depression including the strong desire of suicide, which I was not seeing that much in Hugh. To me he is definitely a sociopath, who does not care about social norms and rules and acts quickly aggressively/ violently and does not care about the feelings of anybody else.
However, I have no knowledge about psychological disorders. So these are just my observations based on what I have read somewhere and seen on TV.

By the way, it is a very good point that Dickens is focusing on human psychology in this novel and in OCS more than in his previous novels. These characters are very interesting, even though we might not always like them.


Lynnm | 3027 comments Robin wrote: "The "I am your father" line made me think of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker! Mr Rudge certainly represents the dark side of life and Barnaby the innocent, if not exactly good. Of course Lucas used ..."

Lol! Now that you wrote that, I'll think of it that way too. :-)


Lynnm | 3027 comments To play devil's advocate with Hugh, he is crazy, but at the same time, he does care for Barnaby...in his own very sick way.

He wants Barnaby for the cause, but I think he'll fight for Barnaby the person as well.

Could be wrong though... :-)


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Hedi | 804 comments Lynnm, you are maybe right. I have always seen the bad part in Hugh, but maybe he does care a little. I was watching the BBC series from 1960 partially today - not further than our current position in the novel and found the interpretation of Hugh a little kinder than he was in my imagination. However, Dennis was more of the sociopath there.


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Amanda Garrett (AmandaElizabeth1) | 154 comments Hedi wrote: "Lynnm, you are maybe right. I have always seen the bad part in Hugh, but maybe he does care a little. I was watching the BBC series from 1960 partially today - not further than our current position..."

I also noticed that Dickens portrayed Hugh slightly differently in this part of the novel. In the earlier chapters, Hugh was almost portrayed like an animal. He would do anything for a drink and he was always sleeping as others have pointed out.

Hugh does seem to have a little bit of a conscience at times. He's surprised me a few times by actually displaying some kindness to Barnaby and others.

He stops Dennis from hanging John Willet. He could have very easily allowed it and none of the rioters would have batted an eye.


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