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Barnaby Rudge
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The Dickens Project - Archives > Barnaby Rudge - Chapters 63 - 68

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Dear participants, slowly but surely we are approaching the next milestone in our Dickens project! This week we are discussing the next SIX (63 - 68) chapters. Please post your thoughts below.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Well, to tell the truth, I have already started to lose patience with Dickens. As soon as my frustration nearly reached the point of no-return, Dickens returns two of my favorite characters in the novel. Granted, he was preparing us by mentioning this one-armed soldier with his face wrapped in bandages and rags so that he could not be recognized, but still the appearance of Ed and Joe comes as both long overdue and somewhat preposterous.
As far as I remember, Frances mentioned this possibility that this one-armed soldier could be Joe, and guess what – she was right! And yes, it does remind me of the love story between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Now when we know that Joe is alive, the feeling could be rekindled again if Dolly is rescued …
Most of the other characters develop in the same way I expect. Mr. Varden is noble and refuses to cooperate with the mob. Mr. Haredale is harsh-looking, but in reality a very decent man who sticks to his beliefs and convictions. Barnaby is … well, Barnaby.
As you all (I valiantly resist the temptation of the Arkansas vernacular to say ‘y’all’. Personally, I hate this linguistic aberration) have noticed Hugh is the most dynamic and interesting character. He is unpredictable and is suddenly prone to some inexplicable bouts of decency. Is he really the only dynamic character in the novel so far?
I should also give credit to Dickens where credit is due. His description of social dogma, ostracism, religious radicalism, and bigotry is unprecedented for his time, and his social duty of a reporter is definitely well served. I think this is one of the reasons why the book is not so popular. Most people have not even heard of this novel, actually. Even nowadays this level of social criticism is too much to handle. Unfortunately, his social agenda makes Dickens forget about the close-up for some of his characters, and it causes a certain misbalance in the portrayal of his characters.
One of the questions I want to ask is where Mrs. Varden is. She has been an ardent, though unbelievably stupid supporter of the no-Popery movement, and when her house is being sacked by the mob, she is nowhere to be seen. So far, there are more questions left unanswered than answers are given. I hope Dickens will eventually lead us to a smooth ending (bitter-sweet as usual).
P.S. Dennis is a truly malicious character. The scene during the Newgate’s siege and arson was very hard to read. I had a temptation ‘to hang’ the hangman. Oh, the power of fiction…


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Robin | 1075 comments Mod
The descriptions of the riots are so vivid, but Dickens could have only read about them or possibly heard from older people who might have been there. I found an interesting quote in the introduction to the Penguin classics edition:

In a letter to John Landseer, the distinguished painter, who had dared to proffer him advice about the depiction of the riots, Dickens wrote
"in the description of such scenes, a broad, bold, hurried effect must be produced, or the reader instead of being forced and driven along by imaginary crowds will find himself dawdling very uncomfortably through the town, and greatly wondering what may be the matter. In this kind of work, the object is, --not to tell everything, but to select the striking points and beat them into the page with a sledge-hammer . . . my object has been to convey an idea of multitudes, violence, and fury; and even to lose my own dramatis personae in the throng, or only to see them dimly , through the fire and smoke"

Wow! I did feel the sledge hammer, and if we were all wondering about where our characters were, that was his intent. It reminds me of Impressionist painting which was coming in around this time, instead of a sharp clear image, there is movement and spontaneity, and objects are seen through fog or smoke.


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Robin | 1075 comments Mod
Oh-oh, it seems Dickens may have lost some of us with his turn away from our original characters, but now they are returning so I hope our group members will too!


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments I do cherish the same hope:-)


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Frances (FrancesAB) | 1162 comments Mod
I'm still here-I found this section somewhat confusing and difficult to follow. I keep wondering how Barnaby will ever be reunited with his mother (he needs to be back with someone not constantly trying to take advantage of his simple and trusting nature) and whether the young women will be rescued. Mr Varden's desperate cries for his daughter's return were heartbreaking and we do hope to see the young women returned safely. The return of Joe and Edward, now together, makes us more hopeful that rescue is imminent.

On a side note, I had to return my book version to the library and rely on an ebook for this section and I realize how much flipping back and forward I do while reading Dickens to remind myself about previous incidents and characters. That is so much easier to do with a book (which explains my comment elsewhere about having purchased all the remaining novels so I don't have to rely on the library!)


message 7: by Zulfiya (last edited Oct 20, 2012 05:13PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Frances wrote: "I'm still here-I found this section somewhat confusing and difficult to follow. I keep wondering how Barnaby will ever be reunited with his mother (he needs to be back with someone not constantly t..."

I agree - it is confusing plot-wise. But right now I am enjoying his social commentary. As far as ebooks vs. treebooks, I have noticed that it is easier and more productive to read actual books if you comment on a weekly basis and the previous references are important. If a book is just a pleasant getaway or an escape, then ereader is a convenient tool.


message 8: by Robin, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin | 1075 comments Mod
I agree, I started with free ebook versions but when I wanted to post a comment, it was too hard to find the right spot. For the few I didn't own, I went to second-hand stores or used sale coupons so I think I'm all set now. It is delightful to have one with illustrations, that is a plus.


Hedi | 804 comments Frances wrote: "I'm still here-I found this section somewhat confusing and difficult to follow. I keep wondering how Barnaby will ever be reunited with his mother (he needs to be back with someone not constantly t..."

I am also still here, even if a little belated. :-)

I have made the same experience as you all that there does not seem to be a smooth flow in the book. You are expecting something about certain characters and then you have to wait and hope that you will hear from them again or a scene is described, but characters that should be there are not mentioned, e.g. Mrs. Varden.

However, the description of the scenes of the riots are definitely my favorite part of the novel. They are so vivid, capturing, but also very sad. And poor Barnaby - to see all these horrors with his innocent eyes and mind ... I hope there will be a nice ending for him...


message 10: by Hedi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hedi | 804 comments Here are also the running titles of this weeks portion of the novel:

Ch. 63: Mischief Rampant. Miss Migg's sentiments. Abduction of Miss Miggs.
Ch. 64: The staunch Locksmith. Newgate fired.
Ch. 65: Between two fires. Mr Dennis enjoys himself - but his enjoyment is short.
Ch. 66: On the skirts of the Crows. The Riots at their height.
Ch. 67: General madness and paralysis. Hugh foremost. The boy, a man.
Ch. 68: Barnaby and his father. The last night of the Riots.


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Hedi | 804 comments One more thing, even though I have maybe not read the chapters of the last month or so in a very detailed and very concentrated manner:

As you, Zulfiya, mentioned already, it seems as if Hugh is the most dynamic character. All the others seem rather static.
However, I am still not so sure what to think of Dennis. I have already read on a little further and my opinion about him is not changing. What did you think about the scene with the four prisoners in Newgate? What are rhe reasons to his behaviour? As mentioned in the previous thread, he seems to me more of sociopath now than Hugh, but I cannot really get a grip on his character.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Hedi wrote: "One more thing, even though I have maybe not read the chapters of the last month or so in a very detailed and very concentrated manner:

As you, Zulfiya, mentioned already, it seems as if Hugh is t..."


I would say that Hugh is temperamental and emotionally volatile and disturbed while Dennis is purely wicked and malicious through and through ...


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Thank you again for the titles, Hedi. Even in his titles Dickens is a master.


message 14: by Lynnm (last edited Oct 21, 2012 02:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynnm | 3027 comments I'm also still here. Busy week correcting papers (which will probably be the case for the next few weeks) so had to wait until the weekend to catch up.

I agree with Zulfiya on this one - I was losing patience with the extended descriptions of the riots. It wasn't until Ned and Joe came back that my headache with the entire barbaric event ended. And to see Barnaby released was a joy. It just bothered me so much that he was in prison. Although I don't like seeing him in the hands of Hugh (again) and his father.

I also agree with Zulfiya that the reason why this isn't a popular Dickens' novel is that it is such a strong social commentary.

The scapegoating and persecution of one group because the masses feel oppressed and lack opportunity. And how it turns into a mob that destroys everything: the group that they have turned on, the people who try to protect them, and the law.

It is - as Robin posted - a sledgehammer that Dickens uses!

Question: I must have missed the one-armed soldier in a previous chapter...do you remember the chapter/scene?


Lynnm | 3027 comments Robin wrote: "I agree, I started with free ebook versions but when I wanted to post a comment, it was too hard to find the right spot. For the few I didn't own, I went to second-hand stores or used sale coupons ..."

I'm not having an issue with my ebook - I just bookmark sections, and once I see it, I remember why I was drawn to the section.

It might be because I was never big in college on writing in my books. Sacrilege to write in a book! ;) In college, I just took notes in my notebooks rather than write in the book.


Lynnm | 3027 comments Last post - as others wrote, Dickens has a lot of loose ends to tie up:

How will Dolly and Emma be rescued?

Where have Ned and Joe been?

What is going to happen to Barnaby - how will he reunite with his mother?

Who dragged off Varden, and what has happened to him since? Mrs. Varden? Miggs?

Where has Mr. Chester gone?

What about John Willet? Has he recovered?

Sim? What happened with him?

I'm sure I'm missing others...


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Robin | 1075 comments Mod
As far as where Joe turned up before, wasn't it when Barnaby was in the cell and he heard 2 people talking, and he was especially startled by one voice? we weren't told who it was, only the other guard had a name. You will find out soon where Joe has been.

It's true this book has a lot of open plot lines. In earlier books, Dickens' plots were more episodic, he would finish with one group and move on to another but here everyone is continuing in different strands, not all visible.


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Amanda Garrett (AmandaElizabeth1) | 154 comments Robin wrote: "As far as where Joe turned up before, wasn't it when Barnaby was in the cell and he heard 2 people talking, and he was especially startled by one voice? we weren't told who it was, only the other g..."

Still here -- just got over the flu.

I think BR was a learning experience for Dickens. His later novels, such as Little Dorrit, Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend, are masterful novels with mutiple plotlines and characters that all weave together in the end.

Dickens earlier novels were more episodic, so he probably had to work out how to write a complex plot while he was writing BR.


Lynnm | 3027 comments Robin wrote: "As far as where Joe turned up before, wasn't it when Barnaby was in the cell and he heard 2 people talking, and he was especially startled by one voice? we weren't told who it was, only the other g..."

Thanks, Robin. Forgot about that. At that time, I thought it might be Joe as well, but then Dickens dropped that thread, and I forgot about it.


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