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Little Dorrit > Book I Chapters 33 - 36

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message 1: by Kim (last edited Jun 12, 2016 02:54PM) (new)

Kim Dear Pickwickians,

This week's installment begins with Chapter 33 titled "Mrs. Merdle's Complaint" an interesting title name, and we begin with Mrs. Gowan deciding to making the best of these "Miggleses". We're told that there are three reasons she came to her decision of allowing the marriage of her son and Pet, and here they are:

1. That her son had never signified the smallest intention to ask her consent, or any mistrust of his ability to dispense with it.

2. that the pension bestowed upon her by a grateful country (and a Barnacle) would be freed from any little filial inroads, when her Henry should be married to the darling only child of a man in very easy circumstances, and finally,

3. that Henry's debts must clearly be paid down upon the altar-railing by his father-in-law.

So because of these reasons as soon as Mr. Meagles gives his consent she does also. Among her friends and acquaintances, however, she maintains that it was her, not the Meagles who had opposed the marriage and it was Mrs. Gowan who finally gave way; and that the sacrifice was hers, not the Meagles. She goes on a visit to Mrs. Merdle to ask her thoughts on the marriage.

Mrs. Gowan wants to know what "Society" will think of the marriage. Mrs. Merdle is described as a "Priestess of Society" and therefore the best one to advise Mrs. Gowan.

'As to marriage on the part of a man, my dear, Society requires that he should retrieve his fortunes by marriage. Society requires that he should gain by marriage. Society requires that he should found a handsome establishment by marriage. Society does not see, otherwise, what he has to do with marriage. Bird, be quiet!'........."

Mrs. Merdle assures her that Society will not blame her for being unable to prevent the marriage, in fact she will be highly commended and sympathized with. At this point Mr. Merdle arrives home and Mrs. Gowan leaves. As Mr. Merdle stands looking out the window his wife becomes upset with him and says he is so moody and distraught, and should not even go into Society until he is fit for it. He replies by telling her no one does more for society than he does.

'Why, in the name of all the infernal powers, Mrs Merdle, who does more for Society than I do? Do you see these premises, Mrs Merdle? Do you see this furniture, Mrs Merdle? Do you look in the glass and see yourself, Mrs Merdle? Do you know the cost of all this, and who it's all provided for? And yet will you tell me that I oughtn't to go into Society? I, who shower money upon it in this way? I, who might always be said—to—to—to harness myself to a watering-cart full of money, and go about saturating Society every day of my life.'

But Mrs. Merdle isn't talking about what he "gives" to Society (I wonder why we are always capitalizing society, I mean Society?) she knows he receives the best Society in the land and moves the entire Society of the land, but he carries his business about him and appears preoccupied. She says:

'I don't expect you,' said Mrs Merdle, reposing easily among her cushions, 'to captivate people. I don't want you to take any trouble upon yourself, or to try to be fascinating. I simply request you to care about nothing—or seem to care about nothing—as everybody else does.'

'Do I ever say I care about anything?' asked Mr Merdle.

'Say? No! Nobody would attend to you if you did. But you show it.'

'Show what? What do I show?' demanded Mr Merdle hurriedly.

'I have already told you. You show that you carry your business cares an projects about, instead of leaving them in the City, or wherever else they belong to,' said Mrs Merdle. 'Or seeming to. Seeming would be quite enough: I ask no more. Whereas you couldn't be more occupied with your day's calculations and combinations than you habitually show yourself to be, if you were a carpenter.'

'A carpenter!' repeated Mr Merdle, checking something like a groan. 'I shouldn't so much mind being a carpenter, Mrs Merdle.'


Edmund arrives and agrees with his mother that yes, even though people say that Mr. Merdle is very rich and very knowing, still business seems to sit heavily on him. He is said to carry his business around with him "like Jew clothesmen with too much business.' " And this is the end of the chapter for poor Mr. Merdle:

"At last he met the chief butler, the sight of which splendid retainer always finished him. Extinguished by this great creature, he sneaked to his dressing-room, and there remained shut up until he rode out to dinner, with Mrs Merdle, in her own handsome chariot. At dinner, he was envied and flattered as a being of might, was Treasuried, Barred, and Bishoped, as much as he would; and an hour after midnight came home alone, and being instantly put out again in his own hall, like a rushlight, by the chief butler, went sighing to bed."


message 2: by Kim (last edited Jun 12, 2016 02:19PM) (new)

Kim Chapter 34 is titled "A Shoal of Barnacles" and begins with us learning that the date of the wedding between Pet and Henry has been set. And we are told that the "Barnacles" will be at the wedding:

"There was to be a convocation of Barnacles on the occasion, in order that that very high and very large family might shed as much lustre on the marriage as so dim an event was capable of receiving."

Even though a large number of the Barnacles will be at the wedding not all Barnacles will be there, they are just too numerous to be contained in a building. Also, being public servants, they are dispersed all over the world, "wherever there was a square yard of ground in British occupation under the sun or moon" there was a Barnacle." We're told that during this time Mrs. Gowan makes frequent visits to Mr. Meagles to add names to the guest list and that Mr. Meagles is usually busy examining and paying the debts of his future son-in-law. Arthur has promised to come to the wedding because of his vow of never failing to do Minnie a service, but Daniel Doyce does not want to attend. He so wants to avoid the wedding that he even goes to talk to Mr. Meagles about it:

".... he begged, with the freedom of an old friend, and as a favour to one, that he might not be invited. 'For,' said he, 'as my business with this set of gentlemen was to do a public duty and a public service, and as their business with me was to prevent it by wearing my soul out, I think we had better not eat and drink together with a show of being of one mind.'"

Gowen tells Arthur that he is a disappointed man, he belongs to a family that could have provided for him but hadn't done it. Of course he knows he is fortunately in having Minnie love him and of having such a wealthly father-in-law, but still the Barnacles disappointed him. Also, Gowan doesn't think he will be able to keep at his profession, it takes too much dedication and takes too much time away from leisure activites:

".....I hope I may not break down in that; but there, my being a disappointed man may show itself. I may not be able to face it out gravely enough. Between you and me, I think there is some danger of my being just enough soured not to be able to do that.'

'To do what?' asked Clennam.

'To keep it up. To help myself in my turn, as the man before me helps himself in his, and pass the bottle of smoke. To keep up the pretence as to labour, and study, and patience, and being devoted to my art, and giving up many solitary days to it, and abandoning many pleasures for it, and living in it, and all the rest of it—in short, to pass the bottle of smoke according to rule.'


When the marriage day arrives we get a rather lenghtly description of the wedding guests, almost all of them Barnacles, I think Arthur may have been the only one present who wasn't a Barnacle. There were all sorts of Barnacles, such as Lord Decimus Tite Barnacle who had risen to official heights on the wings of one indignant idea which was:

"to set bounds to the philanthropy, to cramp the charity, to fetter the public spirit, to contract the enterprise, to damp the independent self-reliance, of its people."

There was a young Barnacle, a lively one, Barnacle Junior, William Barnacle, Mr. Tite Barnacle, all sorts of Barnacles, and to tell the truth I got tired of reading about them and since so much of the chapter was reading about them I got tired of reading the chapter. But as I said, the wedding does come to an end and with the departure of Pet and Henry comes the departure of all the Barnacles. Although I was bored spending the entire chapter with the Barnacles, Mr. Meagles wasn't, at least he was cheered up by the thought of them being there. The chapter ends:

'It's very gratifying, Arthur,' he said, 'after all, to look back upon.'

'The past?' said Clennam.

'Yes—but I mean the company.'

It had made him much more low and unhappy at the time, but now it really did him good. 'It's very gratifying,' he said, often repeating the remark in the course of the evening. 'Such high company!'



message 3: by Kim (last edited Jun 12, 2016 02:38PM) (new)

Kim Chapter 35 is titled "What was Behind Mr. Pancks on Little Dorrit's Hand" , a title I had to read a few times until it made some sort of sense to me. The chapter starts with Mr. Pancks revealing to Arthur the discovery he has made regarding the Dorrit family:

"It was at this time that Mr Pancks, in discharge of his compact with Clennam, revealed to him the whole of his gipsy story, and told him Little Dorrit's fortune. Her father was heir-at-law to a great estate that had long lain unknown of, unclaimed, and accumulating. His right was now clear, nothing interposed in his way, the Marshalsea gates stood open, the Marshalsea walls were down, a few flourishes of his pen, and he was extremely rich."

Pancks says he "moles it out" with the help of his landlord, Mr. Rugg and John Chivery, knowing his devotion to Amy. Now all the paperwork is done and he is ready for the secret to be made known, he came to Arthur first as he had promised. It is during this conversation I am convinced that I was wrong about both Mr. Pancks and Mr. Casby, my opinion of these gentlemen has totally changed places:

'Clennam, who had been almost incessantly shaking hands with him throughout the narrative, was reminded by this to say, in an amazement which even the preparation he had had for the main disclosure smoothed down, 'My dear Mr Pancks, this must have cost you a great sum of money.'

'Pretty well, sir,' said the triumphant Pancks. 'No trifle, though we did it as cheap as it could be done. And the outlay was a difficulty, let me tell you.'

'A difficulty!' repeated Clennam. 'But the difficulties you have so wonderfully conquered in the whole business!' shaking his hand again.

'I'll tell you how I did it,' said the delighted Pancks, putting his hair into a condition as elevated as himself. 'First, I spent all I had of my own. That wasn't much.'

'I am sorry for it,' said Clennam: 'not that it matters now, though. Then, what did you do?'

'Then,' answered Pancks, 'I borrowed a sum of my proprietor.'

'Of Mr Casby?' said Clennam. 'He's a fine old fellow.'

'Noble old boy; an't he?' said Mr Pancks, entering on a series of the dryest snorts. 'Generous old buck. Confiding old boy. Philanthropic old buck. Benevolent old boy! Twenty per cent. I engaged to pay him, sir. But we never do business for less at our shop.'

Arthur felt an awkward consciousness of having, in his exultant condition, been a little premature.

'I said to that boiling-over old Christian,' Mr Pancks pursued, appearing greatly to relish this descriptive epithet, 'that I had got a little project on hand; a hopeful one; I told him a hopeful one; which wanted a certain small capital. I proposed to him to lend me the money on my note. Which he did, at twenty; sticking the twenty on in a business-like way, and putting it into the note, to look like a part of the principal. If I had broken down after that, I should have been his grubber for the next seven years at half wages and double grind. But he's a perfect Patriarch; and it would do a man good to serve him on such terms—on any terms.'

Arthur for his life could not have said with confidence whether Pancks really thought so or not."


And now Arthur goes to the house of Mr. Casby where Little Dorrit will be, although how Arthur knows this I'm not sure, perhaps it is a regular thing for her to be there at the same time each week, I can't remember. When he tells Little Dorrit that her father will be free and will be a rich man she faints. Flora comes in the room to take care of her as only Flora could:

"Upon which Flora returned to take care of her, and hovered about her on a sofa, intermingling kind offices and incoherent scraps of conversation in a manner so confounding, that whether she pressed the Marshalsea to take a spoonful of unclaimed dividends, for it would do her good; or whether she congratulated Little Dorrit's father on coming into possession of a hundred thousand smelling-bottles; or whether she explained that she put seventy-five thousand drops of spirits of lavender on fifty thousand pounds of lump sugar, and that she entreated Little Dorrit to take that gentle restorative; or whether she bathed the foreheads of Doyce and Clennam in vinegar, and gave the late Mr F. more air; no one with any sense of responsibility could have undertaken to decide."

When Amy awakes, she thinks only of her father. We're told that she wants to get to her father to give him the good new and not leave him in jail a moment more than he has to be. She seems uncomfortable and frightened with the idea of being wealthy for herself, but she sheds tears of joy about it for her father’s sake. She certainly likes her father more than I do, but I suppose she would, he is her father after all.

They go to the Marshalsea and tell Mr. Dorrit the news. He is stunned and doesn't say a word until Arthur fetches some wine, Arthur tells the gathering crowd outside that Mr. Dorrit has succeeded to a fortune.

Arthur tells Mr. Dorrit what Mr. Pancks had done on his behalf. Mr. Dorrit agrees to not only reward him generously but everyone else concerned. He then appears at the window and the people in the yard cheer for the Father of the Marshalsea, which is just what he expected they would do. Finally he lays down and falls asleep and Amy asks Arthur to stay and talk, I found her thoughts interesting when she asks Arthur whether her father will pay all his debts before he leaves:

'It seems to me hard,' said Little Dorrit, 'that he should have lost so many years and suffered so much, and at last pay all the debts as well. It seems to me hard that he should pay in life and money both.'

Shortly after this Amy lays her head on her father's pillow and falls asleep and Clennam quietly leaves the room and the prison.


message 4: by Kim (last edited Jun 12, 2016 02:42PM) (new)

Kim Our last chapter of this installment is Chapter 36 titled "The Marshalsea becomes an Orphan" and it is the day that the Dorrits walk out of prison for the last time, hopefully the last time. We're told that the time they had to wait had been short but Mr. Dorrit had complained much about the wait. Of course he did, what else would he do? He complains to Mr. Rugg about the delay threatening to employ someone else to do the job, telling him to do his job and to do it with promptitude. This is one of the men who worked so hard to get him released in the first place and Mr Dorrit is telling him to do his job with promptitude? I like him less and less each time I see him.

We're told that the Collegians aren't envious, some had a regard for the Dorrits, others felt that it could someday also happen to them, and others were pleased that the event and the Marshalsea had made it into the newspapers. I would have just been glad to get rid of him, but that's just me. They even get him a parting gift, which we're told, was never displayed in the family mansion or found among the family papers. He assured them in a "royal manner" of course that he believed they were sincere and that they should all try to follow his example.

He even gives them a "comprehensive entertainment" which he doesn't attend because his dinners are brought from the hotel now, but Tip represents the family and the Father shows up to drink a toast with them at the end. And now the day arrives and they are leaving the Marshalsea, all the collegians and turnkeys are present wearing their best clothing, whatever that may be. Mr. Dorrit and his brother Frederick walk out arm in arm and Mr. Dorrit asks his brother to try to put a little polish in his demeanor. When Frederick asks him how he should do it Mr. Dorrit tells him to think of what he himself is thinking, and when Frederick asks what he is thinking I could almost hear Tristram grumbling at the answer:

"'Oh! my dear Frederick, how can I answer you? I can only say what, in leaving these good people, I think myself.'

'That's it!' cried his brother. 'That will help me.'

'I find that I think, my dear Frederick, and with mixed emotions in which a softened compassion predominates, What will they do without me!'

'True,' returned his brother. 'Yes, yes, yes, yes. I'll think that as we go, What will they do without my brother! Poor things! What will they do without him!'


And now we are almost out the door, William and Frederick in the lead followed by Edward (Tip) and Fanny, then Mr. Plornish and Maggy who are carrying all the family's goods they had decided to bring with them. And every collegian, and every turnkey, and every family of every collegian, and lots of other people are there to watch the big event. I suppose I should quote this section just because of all the bird references:

"There, were the people who were always going out to-morrow, and always putting it off; there, were the people who had come in yesterday, and who were much more jealous and resentful of this freak of fortune than the seasoned birds. There, were some who, in pure meanness of spirit, cringed and bowed before the enriched Collegian and his family; there, were others who did so really because their eyes, accustomed to the gloom of their imprisonment and poverty, could not support the light of such bright sunshine. There, were many whose shillings had gone into his pocket to buy him meat and drink; but none who were now obtrusively Hail fellow well met! with him, on the strength of that assistance. It was rather to be remarked of the caged birds, that they were a little shy of the bird about to be so grandly free, and that they had a tendency to withdraw themselves towards the bars, and seem a little fluttered as he passed."

It is only when they are all in the carriage that they realize Amy is not with them. The chapter ends with this:

'I do say,' she repeated, 'this is perfectly infamous! Really almost enough, even at such a time as this, to make one wish one was dead! Here is that child Amy, in her ugly old shabby dress, which she was so obstinate about, Pa, which I over and over again begged and prayed her to change, and which she over and over again objected to, and promised to change to-day, saying she wished to wear it as long as ever she remained in there with you—which was absolutely romantic nonsense of the lowest kind—here is that child Amy disgracing us to the last moment and at the last moment, by being carried out in that dress after all. And by that Mr Clennam too!'

The offence was proved, as she delivered the indictment. Clennam appeared at the carriage-door, bearing the little insensible figure in his arms.

'She has been forgotten,' he said, in a tone of pity not free from reproach. 'I ran up to her room (which Mr Chivery showed me) and found the door open, and that she had fainted on the floor, dear child. She appeared to have gone to change her dress, and to have sunk down overpowered. It may have been the cheering, or it may have happened sooner. Take care of this poor cold hand, Miss Dorrit. Don't let it fall.'

'Thank you, sir,' returned Miss Dorrit, bursting into tears. 'I believe I know what to do, if you will give me leave. Dear Amy, open your eyes, that's a love! Oh, Amy, Amy, I really am so vexed and ashamed! Do rouse yourself, darling! Oh, why are they not driving on! Pray, Pa, do drive on!'

The attendant, getting between Clennam and the carriage-door, with a sharp 'By your leave, sir!' bundled up the steps, and they drove away."



message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Dear Pickwickians,

This week's installment begins with Chapter 33 titled "Mrs. Merdle's Complaint" an interesting title name, and we begin with Mrs. Gowan deciding to making the best of these "Mig..."


If I stretch my mind I can see value in this chapter as one that comments on love and marriage. Marriage seems to be somewhat of a commodity, and each stakeholder much get his share.

It's been awhile since I have read this book so I'm not sure if this is one of Dickens's preview/setup chapters that then lead us into a more significant development. For now, I'm stumped. The chapter makes little sense to me.

My take of the capitalization of "Society" is to create emphasis and focus on the word, to in some way make it a formal word rather than just another word in a sentence and, perhaps, to give it the status of a title, a formal designation, just as we capitalize our first and last names.


message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Chapter 35 is titled "What was Behind Mr. Pancks on Little Dorrit's Hand" , a title I had to read a few times until it made some sort of sense to me. The chapter starts with Mr. Pancks revealing to..."

Well, Kim, both you and I seem to have little time for Mr. Dorrit. Sadly, I fear he will be even more annoying outside the walls of the Marshalsea with his new-found wealth than he was inside the walls when his movements were somewhat limited. Time will tell.

Mr. Dorrit spends little time before he starts planning the next phase of his life, and apparently the lives of all those related to him. While, on the one hand, it is commendable that he wants to outfit everyone, I worry that his desire to "make a speedy and complete change in [Amy's] very plain dress" will go far beyond the changing of a dress to desiring to make major changes for everyone, whether they want change or not. Clothes would be only a minor visible change. If Mr. Dorrit was annoying and assumed a role of self-created importance within jail, what will he be capable of with money? I dread the thought.

Dickens ends this chapter by noting that Clennam "passed from the prison, carrying the quiet with him into the turbulent streets." I foresee turbulent times, not calm weather ahead for the Dorrit family, and, by extension, Clennam as well.


message 7: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Our last chapter of this installment is Chapter 36 titled "The Marshalsea becomes an Orphan" and it is the day that the Dorrits walk out of prison for the last time, hopefully the last time. We're ..."


Kim
I'm not sure whether you and Tristram timed our reading of this chapter to coincide with the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations or not, but I couldn't help thinking (for a few seconds :-)) ) that Mr. Dorrit's exit from the Marshalsea rivalled the celebrations in London for the Queen.

The fact that Amy fainted and was unable to shed her old clothes and change into her new clothes and role of a wealthy young lady is revealing. She is unable to shed what she has been, and what she is, in order to assume a new role that is being created for her by her father. Who she is, is the person who has most value to Arthur, Maggie and the reader. Her sister takes on more attitude and pretence. Amy remains true to her self.

What annoying habits, actions and comments will Mr. Dorrit grace us in the second half of the novel ?


message 8: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 392 comments Peter wrote: "If Mr. Dorrit was annoying and assumed a role of self-created importance within jail, what will he be capable of with money? I dread the thought."

Indeed.

Peter wrote: "Her sister takes on more attitude and pretence. Amy remains true to her self."

I contend that Fanny, too, is remaining true to herself -- it's just that, unlike Amy, Fanny's true self is materialistic and feels entitled.


message 9: by Peter (new)

Peter Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "If Mr. Dorrit was annoying and assumed a role of self-created importance within jail, what will he be capable of with money? I dread the thought."

Indeed.

Peter wrote: "Her sister ..."


Yes. Money does tend to bring out a person's essential and deepest true self ... the good and the bad.

There are some, like Mr. Jarndyce in BH, who are kind, thoughtful and true even though they have wealth. To me, Dickens gives the most dignity to those who do not have wealth, or even, at times, a comfortable, painless life.


message 10: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy I would share Peter's interpretation of why the s in "society" is capitalized constantly in Mrs. Merdle's perorations. Society has come to be a kind of tin god to people like Mrs. Merdle and Mrs. Gowan, not to mention the infernal Barnacle shoals, which can be encountered in shallow waters especially. And like any other tin god, Society needs certain rites and sacrifices; it also lends itself as an excuse to mercantile behaviour as in the case of Mrs. Gowan, who reconciles herself with the marriage of her son by thinking of Mr. Meagles's money. In other words, the Meagleses may not be socially on a par with Mrs. Gowan, but at least they have money.

Mrs. Merdle, as a high priestess of her tin god, even gives Mrs. Gowan her, and Society's, blessing. In a way, she is like her parrot, in that she vociferates certain phrases, which are void of sentiment and meaning, but I take it the parrot is even more intelligent than she.

I cannot help feeling some pity for Mr. Merdle, though: Here he is, doing business and probably worrying about his business all the time, and yet being put down by his wife, who feels that Society should not be able to see where the money comes from. At the same time, however, I'd say that the narrator is not too keen on Mr. Merdle, either. After all, his name brings a certain French word to my mind: "merde". I don't see this as a mere coincidence.


message 11: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy A quick word about Amy: I find it quite telling that on their leaving the prison, the Dorrits seem to have all but forgotten about Amy and just think of her not being with them in the nick of time. It seems that now when no more sacrifices and no more caring appears to be necessary, Amy - whose clinging to her old clothes can also be seen as a clinging to her old role as her father's rock - will be more considered as a kind of black sheep by that wonderful - or shall I say, shameless and disgusting? - family.


message 12: by Kim (new)

Kim Here are the illustrations by Phiz:





Society Expresses its Views on a Question of Marriage

Book I, Chapter 33

Phiz

Text Illustrated:

"Mrs. Merdle was at home, and was in her nest of crimson and gold, with the parrot on a neighbouring stem watching her with his head on one side, as if he took her for another splendid parrot of a larger species. To whom entered Mrs. Gowan, with her favourite green fan, which softened the light on the spots of bloom.

"My dear soul," said Mrs Gowan, tapping the back of her friend's hand with this fan after a little indifferent conversation, "you are my only comfort. That affair of Henry's that I told you of, is to take place. Now, how does it strike you? I am dying to know, because you represent and express Society so well."

Mrs. Merdle reviewed the bosom which Society was accustomed to review; and having ascertained that show-window of Mr Merdle's and the London jewellers' to be in good order, replied:

"As to marriage on the part of a man, my dear, Society requires that he should retrieve his fortunes by marriage. Society requires that he should gain by marriage. Society requires that he should found a handsome establishment by marriage. Society does not see, otherwise, what he has to do with marriage. Bird, be quiet!"

For the parrot on his cage above them, presiding over the conference as if he were a judge (and indeed he looked rather like one), had wound up the exposition with a shriek.

"Cases there are," said Mrs. Merdle, delicately crooking the little finger of her favourite hand, and making her remarks neater by that neat action; "cases there are where a man is not young or elegant, and is rich, and has a handsome establishment already. Those are of a different kind. In such cases —"

Mrs. Merdle shrugged her snowy shoulders and put her hand upon the jewel-stand, checking a little cough, as though to add, "why, a man looks out for this sort of thing, my dear." Then the parrot shrieked again, and she put up her glass to look at him, and said, "Bird! Do be quiet!"

"But, young men," resumed Mrs. Merdle, "and by young men you know what I mean, my love — I mean people's sons who have the world before them — they must place themselves in a better position towards Society by marriage, or Society really will not have any patience with their making fools of themselves. Dreadfully worldly all this sounds," said Mrs. Merdle, leaning back in her nest and putting up her glass again, "does itnot?"

"But it is true," said Mrs. Gowan, with a highly moral air. — Book the First, "Poverty," Chapter 33, "Mrs. Merdle's Complaint,"


Commentary:

"The master-touch is the unsettling presence of the parrot, whose shrieking acts as a counterpoint to Mrs. Merdle's magisterial pronouncements about marriage, as if her own experience somehow renders her an expert. Enshrined in a canopy not unlike that which one sees in the bedroom scenes in the homes of Dickens's more affluent characters, the gilded cage implies the imprisoning nature of society marriage, mocking the conception underlying the supporting cupidon (right) as a god of love, for affection has no part in Mrs. Merdle's marriage calculations, which are entirely premised on property and social acceptability. The specific marriage about which Mrs. Gowan is soliciting Mrs. Merdle's advice is her son's marriage to Pet Meagles, which should have the desired result of enabling the aristocratic Henry Gowan to "retrieve his fortunes" — that is, to be "relieved from debt", of which the profligate amateur artist has no shortage and against which both ladies expect Mr. Meagles to make considerable outlay prior to the wedding. Mrs. Gowan seems not entirely reconciled to Henry's "marrying down," but acknowledges the necessity of his acquiring the additional income, "an allowance of three hundred a year" or more from the bride's father, a middle-class businessman, and therefore (rather like Mr. Merdle) not a person "in Society". Discretely both women are thoroughly aware that, at least financially (and Society is nothing if not mercenary), this is a very good match for spendthrift Henry Gowan.

Once the devious Mrs. Gowan has left, her mission of seeming (as far as Society goes) to having objected mightily to her son's marrying Pet, the nature of the chapter title becomes clear. The banker husband, having returned from the office to wander his mansion aimlessly, stumbles upon the ladies as Mrs. Gowan is leaving. Mrs. Merdle then delivers her famous "complaint" that her feckless husband is not fit for Society because he is utterly lacking in manners and sophistication. This indictment she delivers from her "ottoman," rather than the padded throne in which she is regally ensconced in the illustration, but in other respects the illustration is almost entirely consistent with the text. The other significant discrepancy is the depiction of a thin, elderly Mrs. Gowan, a Hampton Court "grace-and-favour" pensioner with (caustically remarks Dickens) one-and-a-half chins, whereas Phiz's aging widow is thin and has a pointed face. Aside from a cameo in Phiz's The Family Dignity is Affronted (October 1856), this the original serial's sole portrait of the epitome of Society and her ample, jewel-bedecked bosom. The curtains in the background imply not so much theatricality as acting or disguising one's true emotions, for Mrs. Gowan is merely going through the motions of protesting the marriage, and for her part Mrs. Merdle is thoroughly aware that Pet Meagles is a good catch"



message 13: by Kim (new)

Kim

The Marshalsea becomes an Orphan

Chapter 36

Phiz

Text Illustrated:

"In the yard, were the Collegians and turnkeys. In the yard, were Mr Pancks and Mr Rugg, come to see the last touch given to their work. In the yard, was Young John making a new epitaph for himself, on the occasion of his dying of a broken heart. In the yard, was the Patriarchal Casby, looking so tremendously benevolent that many enthusiastic Collegians grasped him fervently by the hand, and the wives and female relatives of many more Collegians kissed his hand, nothing doubting that he had done it all. In the yard, was the man with the shadowy grievance respecting the Fund which the Marshal embezzled, who had got up at five in the morning to complete the copying of a perfectly unintelligible history of that transaction, which he had committed to Mr Dorrit's care, as a document of the last importance, calculated to stun the Government and effect the Marshal's downfall. In the yard, was the insolvent whose utmost energies were always set on getting into debt, who broke into prison with as much pains as other men have broken out of it, and who was always being cleared and complimented; while the insolvent at his elbow—a mere little, sniveling, striving tradesman, half dead of anxious efforts to keep out of debt—found it a hard matter, indeed, to get a Commissioner to release him with much reproof and reproach. In the yard, was the man of many children and many burdens, whose failure astonished everybody; in the yard, was the man of no children and large resources, whose failure astonished nobody. There, were the people who were always going out to-morrow, and always putting it off; there, were the people who had come in yesterday, and who were much more jealous and resentful of this freak of fortune than the seasoned birds. There, were some who, in pure meanness of spirit, cringed and bowed before the enriched Collegian and his family; there, were others who did so really because their eyes, accustomed to the gloom of their imprisonment and poverty, could not support the light of such bright sunshine. There, were many whose shillings had gone into his pocket to buy him meat and drink; but none who were now obtrusively Hail fellow well met! with him, on the strength of that assistance. It was rather to be remarked of the caged birds, that they were a little shy of the bird about to be so grandly free, and that they had a tendency to withdraw themselves towards the bars, and seem a little fluttered as he passed.

Through these spectators the little procession, headed by the two brothers, moved slowly to the gate. Mr Dorrit, yielding to the vast speculation how the poor creatures were to get on without him, was great, and sad, but not absorbed. He patted children on the head like Sir Roger de Coverley going to church, he spoke to people in the background by their Christian names, he condescended to all present, and seemed for their consolation to walk encircled by the legend in golden characters, 'Be comforted, my people! Bear it!'

At last three honest cheers announced that he had passed the gate, and that the Marshalsea was an orphan."



message 14: by Kim (new)

Kim

Joyful Tidings

Book I Chapter 35

Felix Octavius Carr Darley

Household Edition (1863)

Text Illustrated:

"Compose yourself, sir," said Clennam, "and take a little time to think. To think of the brightest and most fortunate accidents of life. We have all heard of great surprises of joy. They are not at an end, sir. They are rare, but not at an end."

"Mr. Clennam? Not at an end? Not at an end for —" He touched himself upon the breast, instead of saying "me."

"No," returned Clennam.

"What surprise," he asked, keeping his left hand over his heart, and there stopping in his speech, while with his right hand he put his glasses exactly level on the table: "what such surprise can be in store for me?"

"Let me answer with another question. Tell me, Mr Dorrit, what surprise would be the most unlooked for and the most acceptable to you. Do not be afraid to imagine it, or to say what it would be."

He looked steadfastly at Clennam, and, so looking at him, seemed to change into a very old haggard man. The sun was bright upon the wall beyond the window, and on the spikes at top. He slowly stretched out the hand that had been upon his heart, and pointed at the wall.

"It is down," said Clennam. "Gone!"

He remained in the same attitude, looking steadfastly at him.

"And in its place," said Clennam, slowly and distinctly, "are the means to possess and enjoy the utmost that they have so long shut out. Mr Dorrit, there is not the smallest doubt that within a few days you will be free, and highly prosperous. I congratulate you with all my soul on this change of fortune, and on the happy future into which you are soon to carry the treasure you have been blest with here — the best of all the riches you can have elsewhere — the treasure at your side."

With those words, he pressed his hand and released it; and his daughter, laying her face against his, encircled him in the hour of his prosperity with her arms, as she had in the long years of his adversity encircled him with her love and toil and truth; and poured out her full heart in gratitude, hope, joy, blissful ecstasy, and all for him.

"I shall see him as I never saw him yet. I shall see my dear love, with the dark cloud cleared away. I shall see him, as my poor mother saw him long ago. O my dear, my dear! O father, father! O thank God, thank God!"


Commentary:

"The scene is the Marshalsea and is the culmination of the novel's first movement, "Poverty." Here, Arthur Clennam, having already broken the news of the inheritance to Amy Dorrit, now imparts to a stunned Father of the Marshalsea, William Dorrit, that (like the novelist's own father, John Dickens) he has come into a bequest to will result in his immediate release from debtors' prison. Whereas Amy's initial response had been to faint, Mr. Dorrit has an involuntary shaking fit because he has become so acclimatized to prison life and has, indeed, built his entire identity on the length of his incarceration. Now, thanks to Pancks's detective work, William Dorrit will be able to adopt the life-style to which he had always aspired. Darley's image of the stunned heir implies that he will always be haunted by the shades of the prison house.

Phiz's The Marshalsea becomes an Orphan (Book One, Chapter 36), realizes the aftermath of the baronial feast that William Dorrit throws for the collegians and the heroic procession out of the prison yard of the Dorrit family; Phiz's preference for showing the group exodus over the intimate scene in which William Dorrit learns of his good fortune in the previous chapter may have been occasioned by the illustrator's already having shown the Dorrit brothers in Chapter 19, The Brothers. Certainly the moving scene that Darley elected to illustrate has no precedent in the original serial, and Darley would not have had access to Sol Eytinge, Junior's 1867 Diamond Edition illustration Little Dorrit and Her Father (frontispiece). Although James Mahoney provided an Illustration for Chapter 35 in the 1873 Household Edition, he shows the aftermath of their reception of the good news, when Amy and her father, exhausted, fall asleep, and Arthur Clennam discretely leaves the room. Darley's treatment is particularly effective because of the triangular arrangement of the figures, with the fashionably dressed Clennam at the apex, left, and Amy's skirt leading the eye downward to the base, right. In their emotional throes William Dorrit has dropped his newspaper and Amy her bonnet as her father struggles to understand the great change that providence has wrought upon him and his family."



message 15: by Kim (new)

Kim This is the illustration by Sol Eytinge Jr. that the above commentary on the Darley illustration is referring to:



Little Dorrit and her Father

Sol Eytinge Jr.

"Little Dorrit and Her Father, Diamond edition by Sol Eytinge, Jr. Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1871)

Commentary:

"The dual character study is different from others in Eytinge's Diamond Edition sequences of sixteen for each volume in that it post-dates Eytinge's 1869 visit to London and Gadshill. As is typical of these studies, Eytinge appears to have in mind no particular moment in the narrative. William Dorrit, Amy's father, known as "The Father of the Marshalsea" because he has been incarcerated in that debtors' prison for so many years — twenty-five, in fact — is an amiable but utterly impractical middle-aged gentleman whom Dickens based in part upon his own father, John Dickens. Like the elder Dickens, William Dorrit is providentially released from the debtors' prison by an inheritance, although the Dorrit windfall is considerably larger than that which John Dickens received. Amy, William's youngest child, born in the prison, has acquired the nickname "Little Dorrit." At the time that the story opens, the industrious, self-denying Amy is about twenty-two, even though Eytinge's plate makes her look much younger."


message 16: by Kim (last edited Jun 14, 2016 10:13AM) (new)

Kim This is by James Mahoney:



"What a good fellow you are, Clennam!" exclaimed the other stopping to look at him, as if with irrepressible admiration. "What a capital fellow! You have never been disappointed. That's easy to see."—

Book I, Chapter 34

James Mahoney

Household Edition 1873

Text Illustrated:

'What a good fellow you are, Clennam!' exclaimed the other, stopping to look at him, as if with irrepressible admiration. 'What a capital fellow! You have never been disappointed. That's easy to see.'

It would have been so cruel if he had meant it, that Clennam firmly resolved to believe he did not mean it. Gowan, without pausing, laid his hand upon his shoulder, and laughingly and lightly went on:

'Clennam, I don't like to dispel your generous visions, and I would give any money (if I had any), to live in such a rose-coloured mist. But what I do in my trade, I do to sell. What all we fellows do, we do to sell. If we didn't want to sell it for the most we can get for it, we shouldn't do it. Being work, it has to be done; but it's easily enough done. All the rest is hocus-pocus. Now here's one of the advantages, or disadvantages, of knowing a disappointed man. You hear the truth.'



message 17: by Kim (new)

Kim Another by James Mahoney



"Worn out with her own emotions, and yielding to the silence of the room, her hand slowly slackened and failed in its fanning movement, and her head dropped down on the pillow at her father's side. Clennam rose softly, opened and closed the door without a sound"

Book 1 Chapter 35

James Mahoney

Household Edition 1873

Text Illustrated:

"It was his last demonstration for that time; as, after shedding some more tears and querulously complaining that he couldn't breathe, he slowly fell into a slumber. Clennam had abundant occupation for his thoughts, as he sat in the quiet room watching the father on his bed, and the daughter fanning his face.

Little Dorrit had been thinking too. After softly putting his grey hair aside, and touching his forehead with her lips, she looked towards Arthur, who came nearer to her, and pursued in a low whisper the subject of her thoughts.

'Mr Clennam, will he pay all his debts before he leaves here?'

'No doubt. All.'

'All the debts for which he had been imprisoned here, all my life and longer?'

'No doubt.'

There was something of uncertainty and remonstrance in her look; something that was not all satisfaction. He wondered to detect it, and said:

'You are glad that he should do so?'

'Are you?' asked Little Dorrit, wistfully.

'Am I? Most heartily glad!'

'Then I know I ought to be.'

'And are you not?'

'It seems to me hard,' said Little Dorrit, 'that he should have lost so many years and suffered so much, and at last pay all the debts as well. It seems to me hard that he should pay in life and money both.'

'My dear child—' Clennam was beginning.

'Yes, I know I am wrong,' she pleaded timidly, 'don't think any worse of me; it has grown up with me here.'

The prison, which could spoil so many things, had tainted Little Dorrit's mind no more than this. Engendered as the confusion was, in compassion for the poor prisoner, her father, it was the first speck Clennam had ever seen, it was the last speck Clennam ever saw, of the prison atmosphere upon her.

He thought this, and forbore to say another word. With the thought, her purity and goodness came before him in their brightest light. The little spot made them the more beautiful.

Worn out with her own emotions, and yielding to the silence of the room, her hand slowly slackened and failed in its fanning movement, and her head dropped down on the pillow at her father's side. Clennam rose softly, opened and closed the door without a sound, and passed from the prison, carrying the quiet with him into the turbulent streets."



message 18: by Kim (new)

Kim Here is the final illustration for this installment - the last I can find anyway, it's another by James Mahoney:


Chapter 36 - James Mahoney



"Through these spectators, the little procession, headed by the two brothers, moved slowly to the gate. Mr. Dorrit, yielding to the vast speculation how the poor creatures were to get on without him, was great, and sad, but not absorbed"

Book I Chapter 36

James Mahoney

Household Edition 1873

Text Illustrated:

"In the yard, were the Collegians and turnkeys. In the yard, were Mr Pancks and Mr Rugg, come to see the last touch given to their work. In the yard, was Young John making a new epitaph for himself, on the occasion of his dying of a broken heart. In the yard, was the Patriarchal Casby, looking so tremendously benevolent that many enthusiastic Collegians grasped him fervently by the hand, and the wives and female relatives of many more Collegians kissed his hand, nothing doubting that he had done it all. In the yard, was the man with the shadowy grievance respecting the Fund which the Marshal embezzled, who had got up at five in the morning to complete the copying of a perfectly unintelligible history of that transaction, which he had committed to Mr Dorrit's care, as a document of the last importance, calculated to stun the Government and effect the Marshal's downfall. In the yard, was the insolvent whose utmost energies were always set on getting into debt, who broke into prison with as much pains as other men have broken out of it, and who was always being cleared and complimented; while the insolvent at his elbow—a mere little, snivelling, striving tradesman, half dead of anxious efforts to keep out of debt—found it a hard matter, indeed, to get a Commissioner to release him with much reproof and reproach. In the yard, was the man of many children and many burdens, whose failure astonished everybody; in the yard, was the man of no children and large resources, whose failure astonished nobody. There, were the people who were always going out to-morrow, and always putting it off; there, were the people who had come in yesterday, and who were much more jealous and resentful of this freak of fortune than the seasoned birds. There, were some who, in pure meanness of spirit, cringed and bowed before the enriched Collegian and his family; there, were others who did so really because their eyes, accustomed to the gloom of their imprisonment and poverty, could not support the light of such bright sunshine. There, were many whose shillings had gone into his pocket to buy him meat and drink; but none who were now obtrusively Hail fellow well met! with him, on the strength of that assistance. It was rather to be remarked of the caged birds, that they were a little shy of the bird about to be so grandly free, and that they had a tendency to withdraw themselves towards the bars, and seem a little fluttered as he passed.

Through these spectators the little procession, headed by the two brothers, moved slowly to the gate. Mr Dorrit, yielding to the vast speculation how the poor creatures were to get on without him, was great, and sad, but not absorbed. He patted children on the head like Sir Roger de Coverley going to church, he spoke to people in the background by their Christian names, he condescended to all present, and seemed for their consolation to walk encircled by the legend in golden characters, 'Be comforted, my people! Bear it!'



message 19: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Here are the illustrations by Phiz:



Society Expresses its Views on a Question of Marriage

Book I, Chapter 33

Phiz

Text Illustrated:

"Mrs. Merdle was at home, and was in her nest of crimson a..."


A bird. A cage. A character named Pet. I agree with the Commentary. Yet another bird-notation for me. Thanks Kim.


message 20: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Joyful Tidings

Book I Chapter 35

Felix Octavius Carr Darley

Household Edition (1863)

Text Illustrated:

"Compose yourself, sir," said Clennam, "and take a little time to think. To think of the..."


I very much like this Darley illustration. It is less dark than the jail illustrations of Phiz and yet still maintains the feel and oppressiveness of thick walls, bars and enclosure. The touch of the plant by the barred window is effective. Naturally, I am wondering why Dorrit does not have a caged bird in his room.

Amy's face is clearly drawn, and while she does appear to be young, she does not look like a child, and I like that. In fact, the clarity of all the characters is striking.


message 21: by Peter (new)

Peter Kim wrote: "Another by James Mahoney

"Worn out with her own emotions, and yielding to the silence of the room, her hand slowly slackened and failed in its fanning movement, and her head dropped down on the pi..."


The shading above Mr. Dorrit's head is suggestive of a web. While he may be drifting off into pleasant dreams of his coming good fortune, I see this illustration as tinged with an ominous foreboding.

It may have been too suggestive for a Victorian audience to have a father and grown daughter in bed together. Nevertheless, I find the fact that Dorrit sleeps in the comfort of a bed while Amy is consigned to a wooden box to be suggestive of his insensitivity towards her. It is also interesting that Amy's back is turned away from her father. Shades of events to come?


message 22: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Naturally, I am wondering why Dorrit does not have a caged bird in his room."

Maybe that is because he already has the prison all around him. The bird cage might just be supposed to show that there are other prisons, like that of Society, of class consciousness and hypocrisy (as in Mrs. Merdle and Mrs. Gowan's case), like that of wilfulness (as in Tatty's case), or like that of coldness of heart (as in Mrs. Clennam's case). I can see a lot of people in a lot of prisons here - and I hope there will be one for Blandois, too, sooner or later ;-)


message 23: by Peter (new)

Peter Yes. I too see that there are multiple forms of prisons in this novel.

Here's hoping that Blandois finds a prison of some sort as well.


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