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Our Mutual Friend > OMF, Book 4, Chp. 08-11

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message 1: by Kim (last edited Oct 01, 2017 05:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5573 comments Mod
Hello Curiosities,

We are nearing the end of another book, and it seems like we started it only a few weeks ago. We begin this week with Chapter 8 titled "A Few Grains Of Pepper", and while it is quite an amusing chapter there are one or two things I just don't remember. I have been dealing with a really wonderful migraine these last few days - wonderful for the migraine that is, not for me - and my memory isn't the best, but here we go.

We begin the chapter with Fledgeby and I hope we end the chapter with Fledgeby. But first we have Jenny sitting at her home doing her work and thinking of Mr. Riah and how different he was compared to what she had belived, and also she thought of her "child" and his backslidings. I am tired of reading about Jenny's child. We've never gotten through a scene with her that doesn't bring her child into it, and I am starting to believe she actually thinks he is her child, probably from too many years talking about it. We've never gotten through a Jenny scene without mention of her legs and back for that matter, but the child bothers me more than that. Anyway, as she sits thinking on these things Mr. Fledgeby enters, it appears that the reason he is there is to find out where Lizzie is. This is one of the things I don't understand, why is he so determined to find Lizzie? He has hardly ever seen her from what I remember, and I can't remember him being fascinated with her the way Eugene and Mr. Headstone are. The only reason I can think of his wanting to find her is to hurt Mr. Riah. Why is he so upset that Mr. Riah is leaving? Can't he find someone else to do the job Mr. Riah had done all these years? And why was Mr. Riah working for him in the first place? Those are some of my questions.

It seems that Jenny is starting to suspect that it is Fledgeby, not Riah who is the real owner of Pubsey and Co.:

‘So I had a mind,’ pursued Fledgeby, ‘to come and have a talk with you about our dodging friend, the child of Israel.’

‘So he gave you my address; did he?’ asked Miss Wren.

‘I got it out of him,’ said Fledgeby, with a stammer.

‘You seem to see a good deal of him,’ remarked Miss Wren, with shrewd distrust. ‘A good deal of him you seem to see, considering.’

‘Yes, I do,’ said Fledgeby. ‘Considering.’

‘Haven’t you,’ inquired the dressmaker, bending over the doll on which her art was being exercised, ‘done interceding with him yet?’

‘No,’ said Fledgeby, shaking his head.

‘La! Been interceding with him all this time, and sticking to him still?’ said Miss Wren, busy with her work.

‘Sticking to him is the word,’ said Fledgeby.

Miss Wren pursued her occupation with a concentrated air, and asked, after an interval of silent industry:

‘Are you in the army?’

‘Not exactly,’ said Fledgeby, rather flattered by the question.

‘Navy?’ asked Miss Wren.

‘N—no,’ said Fledgeby. He qualified these two negatives, as if he were not absolutely in either service, but was almost in both.

‘What are you then?’ demanded Miss Wren.

‘I am a gentleman, I am,’ said Fledgeby.

‘Oh!’ assented Jenny, screwing up her mouth with an appearance of conviction. ‘Yes, to be sure! That accounts for your having so much time to give to interceding. But only to think how kind and friendly a gentleman you must be!’


If that wasn't enough to convince her of Fledgeby's true role in all of this, this next part would certainly convince me, if I still needed convincing that is:

‘I say, if you’re attending,’ proceeded Fledgeby, ‘it’ll pay better in this way. It’ll lead in a roundabout manner to your buying damage and waste of Pubsey and Co. at a nominal price, or even getting it for nothing.’

‘Aha!’ thought the dressmaker. ‘But you are not so roundabout, Little Eyes, that I don’t notice your answering for Pubsey and Co. after all! Little Eyes, Little Eyes, you’re too cunning by half.’

‘And I take it for granted,’ pursued Fledgeby, ‘that to get the most of your materials for nothing would be well worth your while, Miss Jenny?’

‘You may take it for granted,’ returned the dressmaker with many knowing nods, ‘that it’s always well worth my while to make money.’


And the only reason I can find for him wanting to Lizzie is that he wants to take away what is important to Mr. Riah.

‘I should be glad to countermine him, respecting the handsome gal, your friend. He means something there. You may depend upon it, Judah means something there. He has a motive, and of course his motive is a dark motive. Now, whatever his motive is, it’s necessary to his motive’—Mr Fledgeby’s constructive powers were not equal to the avoidance of some tautology here—‘that it should be kept from me, what he has done with her. So I put it to you, who know: What has he done with her? I ask no more. And is that asking much, when you understand that it will pay?’

Jenny tells him she will stop at his home in the morning and give him her answer. We're told now of the bad time the "child" has that night but I'm tired of it so that's my only mention of it, now that is. The next morning Jenny arrives at Fledgeby's home where she is stopped by a lady who tells her that she must wait to go up, there is a gentleman with him now. Jenny comments that there is a sound coming from above that sounds like someone is beating a carpet which amuses the lady waiting. Soon a gentleman comes down the stairs "out of breath and red hot". He tells the lady - who is Mrs. Lammle that the business is done and they may leave and gives Jenny a broken cane telling her to give it to Fledgeby and tell him that the cane comes with Alfred's compliment on leaving England. When Jenny finally gets to Fledgeby's apartment, she finds him rolling on his carpet. He tells Jenny he has been forced to take snuff and salt in his nose and down his throat, how he is forced to I don't know, why he would when it is without the salt I don't know either. Lammle has stuffed it into his mouth and up his nose. I gather salt in your nose and throat doesn't taste very good. Fledgeby has also received quite a beating with the cane and asks Jenny to get him a plaster of vinegar and brown paper. I've never heard of such a thing and am going to have to go look up and see if this is a good idea, I can't imagine it would be, after Jenny puts pepper into her plasters and then places them on Fledeby's back. She applies these plasters which gives him even more pain, gets him into bed and goes on her way. May Fledgeby have a good life without us any more. Once his back heals that is.


message 2: by Kim (last edited Oct 01, 2017 05:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5573 comments Mod
In Chapter 9 titled "Two Places Vacated" Jenny makes her way to the business place of Pubsey and Co., there she finds Mr. Riah at his work. She tells him that he is back to being a godmother instead of a wolf and she wants to ask him a few questions. With each answer the "idea" in her head grows until Mr. Riah is once again the man she loves:

"The little creature folded her arms about the old man’s neck with great earnestness, and kissed him. ‘I humbly beg your forgiveness, godmother. I am truly sorry. I ought to have had more faith in you. But what could I suppose when you said nothing for yourself, you know? I don’t mean to offer that as a justification, but what could I suppose, when you were a silent party to all he said? It did look bad; now didn’t it?’

‘It looked so bad, Jenny,’ responded the old man, with gravity, ‘that I will straightway tell you what an impression it wrought upon me. I was hateful in mine own eyes. I was hateful to myself, in being so hateful to the debtor and to you. But more than that, and worse than that, and to pass out far and broad beyond myself—I reflected that evening, sitting alone in my garden on the housetop, that I was doing dishonour to my ancient faith and race."


And so he decided he couldn't work for Fledgeby anymore and he told Fledgeby he would not be working for him after his lawful term of service had expired which was the next day. I suppose that is what sent Fledgeby to Jenny in the first place. Now while they are still together he receives a note from Fledgeby to get out immediately and he packs his few belongings and leaves the house forever. Having nowhere to go he accepts Jenny's invitation to go home with her which he accepts and I am glad, now they have each other to share their ups and downs with. The first down would be with Jenny's father, for he goes out again looking for a place he can get a drink again, but this night he seems to have one too many and has finally pushed himself over the edge.

"Now, the bad child having been strictly charged by his parent to remain at home in her absence, of course went out; and, being in the very last stage of mental decrepitude, went out with two objects; firstly, to establish a claim he conceived himself to have upon any licensed victualler living, to be supplied with threepennyworth of rum for nothing; and secondly, to bestow some maudlin remorse on Mr Eugene Wrayburn, and see what profit came of it. Stumblingly pursuing these two designs—they both meant rum, the only meaning of which he was capable—the degraded creature staggered into Covent Garden Market and there bivouacked, to have an attack of the trembles succeeded by an attack of the horrors, in a doorway."

He attempts to get to Euguene but is stopped when Young Blight closes the door and refuses to open it. This causes the drunken father to beat on the door becoming sure that there is a conspiracy against his life, why he thinks that I don't know, I guess just from the alcohol. Finally the police arrive and find Mr. Dolls life going out of him, Jenny and Mr. Riah arrive and they carry her father to the nearest doctor, but it is too late, he is gone. A few days later, when the funeral is over and the two friends are sitting together talking about Jenny's work and how she enjoys it. Mr. Riah even calls her Cinderella during this conversation. There is a knock on the door and we find Mortimer Lightwood there with a note for Jenny, I'll end the chapter with it:

‘Will you read the note?’

‘It’s very short,’ said Jenny, with a look of wonder, when she had read it.

‘There was no time to make it longer. Time was so very precious. My dear friend Mr Eugene Wrayburn is dying.’

The dressmaker clasped her hands, and uttered a little piteous cry.

‘Is dying,’ repeated Lightwood, with emotion, ‘at some distance from here. He is sinking under injuries received at the hands of a villain who attacked him in the dark. I come straight from his bedside. He is almost always insensible. In a short restless interval of sensibility, or partial sensibility, I made out that he asked for you to be brought to sit by him. Hardly relying on my own interpretation of the indistinct sounds he made, I caused Lizzie to hear them. We were both sure that he asked for you.’

The dressmaker, with her hands still clasped, looked affrightedly from the one to the other of her two companions.

‘If you delay, he may die with his request ungratified, with his last wish—intrusted to me—we have long been much more than brothers—unfulfilled. I shall break down, if I try to say more.’

In a few moments the black bonnet and the crutch-stick were on duty, the good Jew was left in possession of the house, and the dolls’ dressmaker, side by side in a chaise with Mortimer Lightwood, was posting out of town. "



message 3: by Kim (last edited Oct 01, 2017 05:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5573 comments Mod
Our next Chapter is titled "The Dolls’ Dressmaker Discovers A Word, and begins with Jenny again. I don't think we've had this many chapters with Jenny in it all in a row before. We have entered a dark and quiet room; Eugene is lying on the bed, about as bandaged as a person could be, even his arms are in splints at the side of the bed. Jenny has only been there two days but is already familiar with the scene. Most of the time if his eyes open at all there is no recollection of anything in them. During one of his clear moments he asks Mortimer to ask Jenny if she has seen the children, when this makes no sense, he adds, ask her if she has smelt the flowers. Jenny seems to know what this means. I don't. What Jenny says isn't helping me remember it.

‘Oh! I know!’ cried Jenny. ‘I understand him now!’ Then, Lightwood yielded his place to her quick approach, and she said, bending over the bed, with that better look: ‘You mean my long bright slanting rows of children, who used to bring me ease and rest? You mean the children who used to take me up, and make me light?’

Eugene smiled, ‘Yes.’

‘I have not seen them since I saw you. I never see them now, but I am hardly ever in pain now.’

‘It was a pretty fancy,’ said Eugene.

‘But I have heard my birds sing,’ cried the little creature, ‘and I have smelt my flowers. Yes, indeed I have! And both were most beautiful and most Divine!’

‘Stay and help to nurse me,’ said Eugene, quietly. ‘I should like you to have the fancy here, before I die.’


I could go back and find the meaning in the book, but all I want to do right now is lay my head back and close my eyes, so I will let it to you all to clue me in on it when you have a chance. He seems to dread those times when his mind drifts away and asks Mortimer to keep him there. When he asks this Mortimer will use anything he can think of, stimulants that can be given safely. He tells Mortimer not to look for Bradley Headstone because finding him would ruin Lizzie's reputation. That's another thing, why would it ruin her reputation, she didn't beat anyone up, not yet anyway. He then wanders away, this continues on for many days, when aware though, he tries to tell them something, but the only word they can understand is Lizzie, he says that over and over. Finally Jenny discovers what the word is and the next time Eugene is awake Mortimer says the word wife. And here we end;

‘ Observe my dear Eugene; while I am away you will know that I have discharged my trust with Lizzie, by finding her here, in my present place at your bedside, to leave you no more. A final word before I go. This is the right course of a true man, Eugene. And I solemnly believe, with all my soul, that if Providence should mercifully restore you to us, you will be blessed with a noble wife in the preserver of your life, whom you will dearly love.’

‘Amen. I am sure of that. But I shall not come through it, Mortimer.’

‘You will not be the less hopeful or less strong, for this, Eugene.’

‘No. Touch my face with yours, in case I should not hold out till you come back. I love you, Mortimer. Don’t be uneasy for me while you are gone. If my dear brave girl will take me, I feel persuaded that I shall live long enough to be married, dear fellow.’

Miss Jenny gave up altogether on this parting taking place between the friends, and sitting with her back towards the bed in the bower made by her bright hair, wept heartily, though noiselessly. Mortimer Lightwood was soon gone. As the evening light lengthened the heavy reflections of the trees in the river, another figure came with a soft step into the sick room.

‘Is he conscious?’ asked the little dressmaker, as the figure took its station by the pillow. For, Jenny had given place to it immediately, and could not see the sufferer’s face, in the dark room, from her new and removed position.

‘He is conscious, Jenny,’ murmured Eugene for himself. ‘He knows his wife.’


Even Tristram should have tears in his eyes after that.


message 4: by Kim (last edited Oct 01, 2017 05:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5573 comments Mod
Chapter 11 is titled "Effect Is Given To The Doll Maker's Discovery" and we find Bella in her role as the good and sweet wife and mother making baby clothes, we're told that the Complete British Family Housewife is nowhere in sight and we're led to believe that it probably never will be again. There is a knock at the door and Mortimer is there, he tells her the reason why he came, Lizzie has requested that Bella be there for her wedding. When she tells her husband he refuses to come into the room where Mortimer is waiting and giving no reason for it Bella asks if he is jealous of Mortimer.

‘John dear, you never can be jealous of Mr Lightwood?’

‘Why, my precious child,’ returned her husband, laughing outright: ‘how could I be jealous of him? Why should I be jealous of him?’

‘Because, you know, John,’ pursued Bella, pouting a little more, ‘though he did rather admire me once, it was not my fault.’

‘It was your fault that I admired you,’ returned her husband, with a look of pride in her, ‘and why not your fault that he admired you? But, I jealous on that account? Why, I must go distracted for life, if I turned jealous of every one who used to find my wife beautiful and winning!’

‘I am half angry with you, John dear,’ said Bella, laughing a little, ‘and half pleased with you; because you are such a stupid old fellow, and yet you say nice things, as if you meant them. Don’t be mysterious, sir. What harm do you know of Mr Lightwood?’

‘None, my love.’

‘What has he ever done to you, John?’

‘He has never done anything to me, my dear. I know no more against him than I know against Mr Wrayburn; he has never done anything to me; neither has Mr Wrayburn. And yet I have exactly the same objection to both of them.’


Poor Bella, I would be going crazy by this time. John asks her if she remembers him telling her she will be tried, and says the time is coming when it will happen. And so, for now the mystery continues, for Bella anyway, and she goes with Mortimer without her husband. At the railway station they meet Reverend Milvey and his wife Margaretta, then are going to the same place and for the same reason as Bella and Mortimer are. I adore Mortimer by this time in our novel and I hope Dickens has a happy ending for him. They are surprised John isn't with them and she lies to them as she did earlier by telling them John's face is swollen and he must stay in bed. I must say I have never heard of that excuse before, but it seems to be common among their little group anyway for Mrs. Milvey says the clergy and their wives seem to cause swelled faces. I've never noticed it, I'll have to start paying attention to such things. :-)

As they wait for their train Mrs. Milvey notices someone nearby and asks her husband who it is, and we find it is Bradley Headstone lurking in the area. It appears that he must have seen Mortimer leaving the building because he keeps looking at the entrance, apparently Mortimer hadn't seen Mr. Headstone. I would think there could have been blood shed if he had seen him. It appears that he also had heard them mention Lizzie's name, for he asks Mr. Milvey if he could speak to him outside, and questioning him finds that they are going to the wedding of Lizzie and Eugene.

‘I gathered as much, sir. I hope there is nothing amiss with the sister of my old pupil? I hope no bereavement has befallen her. I hope she is in no affliction? Has lost no—relation?’

Mr Milvey thought this a man with a very odd manner, and a dark downward look; but he answered in his usual open way.

‘I am glad to tell you, Mr Headstone, that the sister of your old pupil has not sustained any such loss. You thought I might be going down to bury some one?’

‘That may have been the connexion of ideas, sir, with your clerical character, but I was not conscious of it.—Then you are not, sir?’

A man with a very odd manner indeed, and with a lurking look that was quite oppressive.

‘No. In fact,’ said Mr Milvey, ‘since you are so interested in the sister of your old pupil, I may as well tell you that I am going down to marry her.’

The schoolmaster started back.

‘Not to marry her, myself,’ said Mr Milvey, with a smile, ‘because I have a wife already. To perform the marriage service at her wedding.’

Bradley Headstone caught hold of a pillar behind him. If Mr Milvey knew an ashy face when he saw it, he saw it then.

‘You are quite ill, Mr Headstone!’

‘It is not much, sir. It will pass over very soon. I am accustomed to be seized with giddiness. Don’t let me detain you, sir; I stand in need of no assistance, I thank you. Much obliged by your sparing me these minutes of your time.’


And now on to the train and to the wedding. When they arrive they find that Eugene is still alive, which they all had seemed to doubt, and sleeping peacefully. They sit quietly in the room until Eugene wakes up on his own.

Far on in the night, Eugene opened his eyes. He was sensible, and said at once: ‘How does the time go? Has our Mortimer come back?’

Lightwood was there immediately, to answer for himself. ‘Yes, Eugene, and all is ready.’

‘Dear boy!’ returned Eugene with a smile, ‘we both thank you heartily. Lizzie, tell them how welcome they are, and that I would be eloquent if I could.’

‘There is no need,’ said Mr Milvey. ‘We know it. Are you better, Mr Wrayburn?’

‘I am much happier,’ said Eugene.

‘Much better too, I hope?’

Eugene turned his eyes towards Lizzie, as if to spare her, and answered nothing.

Then, they all stood around the bed, and Mr Milvey, opening his book, began the service; so rarely associated with the shadow of death; so inseparable in the mind from a flush of life and gaiety and hope and health and joy. Bella thought how different from her own sunny little wedding, and wept. Mrs Milvey overflowed with pity, and wept too. The dolls’ dressmaker, with her hands before her face, wept in her golden bower. Reading in a low clear voice, and bending over Eugene, who kept his eyes upon him, Mr Milvey did his office with suitable simplicity. As the bridegroom could not move his hand, they touched his fingers with the ring, and so put it on the bride. When the two plighted their troth, she laid her hand on his and kept it there. When the ceremony was done, and all the rest departed from the room, she drew her arm under his head, and laid her own head down upon the pillow by his side.


The wedding is now over and the others leave the room leaving Eugene and his wife alone. I haven't much else to say other than asking your forgiveness for this being so late and for all the things I'm having trouble remembering. Whether my thread is too short or too long I don't know. I am ending this chapter, this installment, and handing the rest of the book over to Tristram with ending of our chapter;

‘Lizzie,’ said Eugene, after a silence: ‘when you see me wandering away from this refuge that I have so ill deserved, speak to me by my name, and I think I shall come back.’

‘Yes, dear Eugene.’

‘There!’ he exclaimed, smiling. ‘I should have gone then, but for that!’

A little while afterwards, when he appeared to be sinking into insensibility, she said, in a calm loving voice: ‘Eugene, my dear husband!’ He immediately answered: ‘There again! You see how you can recall me!’ And afterwards, when he could not speak, he still answered by a slight movement of his head upon her bosom.

The sun was high in the sky, when she gently disengaged herself to give him the stimulants and nourishment he required. The utter helplessness of the wreck of him that lay cast ashore there, now alarmed her, but he himself appeared a little more hopeful.

‘Ah, my beloved Lizzie!’ he said, faintly. ‘How shall I ever pay all I owe you, if I recover!’

‘Don’t be ashamed of me,’ she replied, ‘and you will have more than paid all.’

‘It would require a life, Lizzie, to pay all; more than a life.’

‘Live for that, then; live for me, Eugene; live to see how hard I will try to improve myself, and never to discredit you.’

‘My darling girl,’ he replied, rallying more of his old manner than he had ever yet got together. ‘On the contrary, I have been thinking whether it is not the best thing I can do, to die.’

‘The best thing you can do, to leave me with a broken heart?’

‘I don’t mean that, my dear girl. I was not thinking of that. What I was thinking of was this. Out of your compassion for me, in this maimed and broken state, you make so much of me—you think so well of me—you love me so dearly.’

‘Heaven knows I love you dearly!’

‘And Heaven knows I prize it! Well. If I live, you’ll find me out.’

‘I shall find out that my husband has a mine of purpose and energy, and will turn it to the best account?’

‘I hope so, dearest Lizzie,’ said Eugene, wistfully, and yet somewhat whimsically. ‘I hope so. But I can’t summon the vanity to think so. How can I think so, looking back on such a trifling wasted youth as mine! I humbly hope it; but I daren’t believe it. There is a sharp misgiving in my conscience that if I were to live, I should disappoint your good opinion and my own—and that I ought to die, my dear!’



Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
As to my tears, Kim, they were there indeed. But a closer inspection under the microscope revealed them to be tears of joy felt at the knowledge that this time I did not have to do the recaps of those mawkish chapters. I must confess that I am not a great fan of Jenny's because her constant lamentations over her child and her recurring "I know your tricks and manners", her fantasies about the fairy godmother, and all that, tired me completely.

As to your question about Fledgeby's motives for finding out where Lizzie resides, I think it is purely and solely the wish to spite Riah. I liked Mrs. Lammle's exit from the story because even though she may not be one of the good characters, there is a kind of dignity in distress about her when she leaves, holding her head up high.

As to Eugene and Lizzie's wedding scene, those two long, long chapters, I'd just say, HUMBUG.


Mary Lou | 2264 comments Kim wrote: "Chapter 11 is titled "Effect Is Given To The Doll Maker's Discovery" and we find Bella in her role as the good and sweet wife and mother making baby clothes, we're told that the Complete British Fa..."

The beginning of this chapter typifies Dickens' biggest flaw as a writer (if I may be so bold!). In the first few paragraphs, he uses the word "little" four times:

Mrs John Rokesmith sat at needlework in her neat little room,
beside a basket of neat little articles of clothing...

...like a sort of dimpled little charming Dresden-china clock...

...that fluttering little fool of a servant fluttered in...


Dickens obviously chose his words carefully, and intended to emphasize certain images by repetition - not only "neat little" but also "fluttering" in these quotes, and other words and phrases as the chapter continues (the word "amiss" is used 2x, "fluttered" yet another time, etc.) There must be a name for this literary device. Why is Dickens using it here? The only thing I can think is that he's trying to emphasize the joy and contentment in the Rokesmith household before all hell breaks loose.

Whatever his reasoning, I find it distracting and irritating. In doing a word search on my Nook, I estimate he uses that adjective more than 850 times in about as many pages (depending on your edition)! I'd guess that almost all of those uses describe Bella, one of her body parts, her home, etc. The word "little" isn't just a description of size or amount for Dickens -- it is imbued with deeper meaning and, I think, association with his sister-in-law, Mary, who must have been a very petite girl. (Poor Catherine... even if she'd been slender in her youth, she was pregnant so often that she could hardly have been described as little during her most of her marriage - an attribute that obviously had great importance to her husband.)

The Thesaurus was published twelve years prior to OMF - when it comes to the word "little" I wish Dickens would have used it.


message 7: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5573 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "As to my tears, Kim, they were there indeed. But a closer inspection under the microscope revealed them to be tears of joy felt at the knowledge that this time I did not have to do the recaps of th..."

Oh, come on, that last line of Eugene's, ‘He is conscious, Jenny,’ murmured Eugene for himself. ‘He knows his wife.’ It just left me (and you) with a wonderful feeling inside.


message 8: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5573 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "The beginning of this chapter typifies Dickens' biggest flaw as a writer (if I may be so bold!). In the first few paragraphs, he uses the word "little" four times

I wonder how many times I use the word Christmas in my conversation? I rarely bring Christmas up in a casual sentence, but often people mention Christmas to me and that begins the talk of when I begin decorating for Christmas, how long it takes me to decorate for Christmas, how many Christmas houses are in my displays........it goes on and on. :-)


message 9: by Tristram (last edited Oct 02, 2017 10:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Kim wrote: "Chapter 11 is titled "Effect Is Given To The Doll Maker's Discovery" and we find Bella in her role as the good and sweet wife and mother making baby clothes, we're told that the Complet..."

I agree with you, Mary Lou, that the excessive use of cosy words can become annoying in Dickens, and the only reason I did not notice this time is probably that I haven taken to read the cheesy passages in Dickens with less attention and at treble speed. Never will I forget the scene when little petite (or is it scanty?) Ruth Pinch prepared a pudding and when there was an endless to and fro from the small kitchen to the tiny pantry and we were supposed to be smitten with this infantile scene as much as the author was. But bantam me wasn't and found it tiresome after a Lilliputian while.

Dostoyevsky also tends to use the same words over and over again in one paragraph but he usually has something else in mind than indulging in sentimentality. The technical term for this is conduplicatio. Don't worry! I looked it up - here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repetit...


Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Mary Lou wrote: "The beginning of this chapter typifies Dickens' biggest flaw as a writer (if I may be so bold!). In the first few paragraphs, he uses the word "little" four times

I wonder how man..."


Dear me, I never noticed - and I am usually very, very heedful.


LindaH | 124 comments I think if you want to find the highest frequency of the word “Little” —and no one here wants to obviously— you need look no further than Mother Goose and nursery tales. Since Dickens has so many references to these sources, he must be aware of his repetitions and eschewing the thesaurus on purpose.

Anyone who has entertained babies and little children with rhymes and stories knows the reason for repetition.

There was a crooked man
Who walked a crooked mile
He found a crooked sixpence
Against a crooked stile
He bought a crooked cat
Which caught a crooked mouse
And they all lived together
In a LITTLE crooked house


Peter | 2976 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Hello Curiosities,

We are nearing the end of another book, and it seems like we started it only a few weeks ago. We begin this week with Chapter 8 titled "A Few Grains Of Pepper", and while it is ..."


I wonder if all of Jenny's references to her child father is to establish that she is, not her father, the head of the household. Now, if we follow that with the fact that Jenny is deformed, we can come to the conclusion that Dickens wanted to establish how far Jenny has come in life, and how much she has accomplished on her own.

Could we see Jenny, as annoying as she can be, another example of a woman, like Lizzie, who has assumed the dominant position in the family, looked after her male parent as well as her siblings, be they real like Charley, or symbolic like Jenny's dolls.

I find that OMF presents the reader with more examples of self-made and sufficient females than other novels. I would even go further and suggest that Bella is a step forward in Dickens's development of female characters. She, while annoying, does make a major choice in her life. From her early position and feelings for money and against Rokesmith, she does come to realize and value another human being, does fall in love in a believable way, and does come to embrace her self-chosen lifestyle as a wife.


Peter | 2976 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "As to my tears, Kim, they were there indeed. But a closer inspection under the microscope revealed them to be tears of joy felt at the knowledge that this time I did not have to do the recaps of th..."

No doubt tears of joy as Dickens brings us to the place in the novel where we know that all will be well and love can and will conquer all.

For those of us who find Lizzie a grand character we must accept her judgement of lovers. :-))

As was noted, we do have passing references to fairy tales. If we overlap some of the fairy tale motifs with the text of OMF then could we see the trope of Beauty and the Beast again playing itself out?


Mary Lou | 2264 comments Peter wrote: " would even go further and suggest that Bella is a step forward in Dickens's development of female characters. ..."

I agree to an extent, Peter. She's matured in that she is no longer mercenary, she's learned skills that make her efficient, and she's learned that some battles aren't worth fighting (with her mother and sister) but others are (with Mr. Boffin). But the flip side of the coin is that Dickens took a strong-willed fireball and turned her into a caricature of a Stepford wife. Now, as a woman who used her liberated status to make the choice to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, I can argue that Bella is finding fulfillment doing what she loves. Dickens makes her sound repressed, but I think that's how he wants her... not necessarily how Bella truly is.

Wow.... that's something to think about.


Mary Lou | 2264 comments Tristram wrote: "As to Eugene and Lizzie's wedding scene, those two long, long chapters, I'd just say, HUMBUG..."

I have never liked Eugene, and these recent events have done nothing to change that.


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Kim | 5573 comments Mod
I like Bella just the way she is now. I'm not sure if that's from always taking the other side against grumpy people or not.


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Kim | 5573 comments Mod


"She beheld the extraordinary spectacle of Mr. Fledgeby in his shirt, a pair of Turkish trousers, and a Turkish cap, rolling over and over on his own carpet, and spluttering wonderfully".

Book 4 Chapter 8

James Mahoney

1875 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

Pulling at the bell again and getting no reply, she pushed the outer door, and found it standing ajar. No one being visible on her opening it wider, and the spluttering continuing, she took the liberty of opening an inner door, and then beheld the extraordinary spectacle of Mr. Fledgeby in a shirt, a pair of Turkish trousers, and a Turkish cap, rolling over and over on his own carpet, and spluttering wonderfully.

"Oh Lord!' gasped Mr Fledgeby. "Oh my eye! Stop thief! I am strangling. Fire! Oh my eye! A glass of water. Give me a glass of water. Shut the door. Murder! Oh Lord!" And then rolled and spluttered more than ever.

Hurrying into another room, Miss Jenny got a glass of water, and brought it for Fledgeby's relief: who, gasping, spluttering, and rattling in his throat betweenwhiles, drank some water, and laid his head faintly on her arm.



Commentary: Jenny Wren and Fascination Fledgeby

As is the case with the serious plot involving Headstone, Wrayburn, and Lizzie Hexam, in this comic subplot involving the Lammles, Fledgeby, Riah, and Jenny Wren, Mahoney does not attempt to describe the assault itself, but jumps ahead to the consequences of the violence, with the broken cane lying at Jenny's feet and Fledgeby in his Turkish lounging suit curled up on the floor, a getup which Mahoney has already described in It was an edifying spectacle, the young man in his easy-chair taking his coffee, and the old man, with his grey head bent, standing awaiting his pleasure, in the first chapter, "Lodgers in Queer Street," in the third book, "A Long Lane," also set in Fledgeby's bachelor rooms in The Albany. The comic illustration continues the textual motifs of imposture, deceit, and (ultimately) poetic justice as the fourth book brings the various strands of the plot to resolution. There is no counterpart to this illustration in the original serial sequence by Marcus Stone in 1864-65, for Stone jumps ahead to the October 1865 scene in Chapter Nine, "Two Places Vacated," when, having buried her father, Jenny has another idea to "fix," namely making a doll clergyman for a dolls' wedding, as she explains to her adoptive father, Riah.

The sequence begins with Fledgeby's visiting Jenny Wren in her workshop. Offering her remnants gratis if she can provide him with information about Lizzie Hexam's whereabouts, he invites her to visit him at his bachelor rooms in the Albany, Piccadilly. Since she has dolls to deliver in nearby Bond Street, she agrees to visit him the next morning, after breakfast. Upon her arrival, she encounters Sophronia Lemmle, holding her husband's hat, and then Alfred Lammle himself, descending the stairs in a self-satisfied manner, for he has just thrashed the money-lender responsible for his recent reversals, Fascination Fledgeby.

The crippled but knowing child with adult responsibilities becomes a "good witch" and an agent of Providence as she chastizes and punishes the usurer and deceiver by putting pepper in his vinegar plasters. Her comic chastisement of the poser indicates that she has realised that it has been Fledgeby rather than Riah who has been the real power behind Pubsey & Co. When she and Riah return to her lodgings, she finds her errant, alcoholic father dead, probably of alcohol poisoning.


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Kim | 5573 comments Mod



Miss Wren Fixes Her Idea

Book 4 , Chapter 9

Marcus Stone

Commentary:

Once again, Marcus Stone has chosen the appealing child-adult Jenny Wren and the benevolent Jew, Riah, as the subjects of illustration, the doll's dressmaker having already appeared prominently in "The Person of the House and the Bad Child" (October 1864), "The Garden on the Roof" (November 1864), and "Trying on for the Dolls' Dressmaker" (March 1865); thus, she is tied with Rogue Riderhood at four appearances, making her and the waterman the most illustrated secondary characters in Stone's sequence. The title of the illustration alludes to this earlier passage:

The dolls' dressmaker sat holding the old man by the hand, and looking thoughtfully in his face.

'Thus I reflected, I say, sitting that evening in my garden on the housetop. And passing the painful scene of that day in review before me many times, I always saw that the poor gentleman believed the story readily, because I was one of the Jews — that you believed the story readily, my child, because I was one of the Jews — that the story itself first came into the invention of the originator thereof, because I was one of the Jews. This was the result of my having had you three before me, face to face, and seeing the thing visibly presented as upon a theatre. Wherefore I perceived that the obligation was upon me to leave this service. But Jenny, my dear,' said Riah, breaking off, 'I promised that you should pursue your questions, and I obstruct them.'

'On the contrary, godmother; my idea is as large now as a pumpkin — and you know what a pumpkin is, don't you? So you gave notice that you were going? Does that come next?' asked Miss Jenny with a look of close attention.


Jenny has had her doubts about Riah's being what he seems — a decent, honest, caring individual — based on his affiliation with the usurious money-lending firm of Pubsey & Co., Saine Mary Axe. But sometimes in Dickens characters are what they seem to be, and Riah has exonerated himself by quitting Fledgeby's employ. Riah is, of course, the kind of father figure for whom Jenny has been yearning; and shortly, with the death of her biological father, "Mr. Dolls," she will acquire the father and friend she deserves. Sentiment and affiliation by choice, implies Dickens, are more important than mere biology in the formation of families — as we have already seen in the formation of the unconventional Peggotty family in David Copperfield. Quick-minded Jenny has finally sorted out who is actually Pubsey and Co., and has to repent of her misjudgment of Riah, a misjudgment of Jews in general made by so many of Dickens's readers. To Jenny, Riah is once again a fairy "Godmother" rather than the "Wolf" in her real-life fairy-tale, which is apparently a conflation of "Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding-hood."

However, the passage realized in this illustration occurs not in the Pubsey and Co. offices, but around Jenny's dressmaking table in her own apartments when, having buried her father, Jenny has another idea to "fix," namely making a doll clergyman for a dolls' wedding:

So, it came into my head while I was weeping at my poor boy's grave, that something in my way might be done with a clergyman.'

Thus, in this Stone illustration Jenny points to a doll clergyman as Riah tries to understand exactly what "idea" she is attempting to "fix." Although her staff is still obvious enough, her deformity is not.


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Kim | 5573 comments Mod


Eugene's Bedside

Book 4 , Chapter 10

Marcus Stone

Commentary:

The scene captured in the thirty-seventh illustration is established at the very opening of the chapter: the presence at the bedside of Mortimer Lightwood and at the foot of the bed Jenny Wren. What is not clear for some paragraphs is that Lizzie is present, but this the illustration makes clear.

"A darkened and hushed room; the river outside the windows flowing on to the vast ocean; a figure on the bed, swathed and bandaged and bound, lying helpless on its back, with its two useless arms in splints at its sides.

They provided Jenny with materials for plying her work, and she had a little table placed at the foot of his bed. Sitting there, with her rich shower of hair falling over the chair-back, they hoped she might attract his notice. With the same object, she would sing, just above her breath, when he opened his eyes, or she saw his brow knit into that faint expression, so evanescent that it was like a shape made in water. But as yet he had not heeded. The 'they' here mentioned were the medical attendant; Lizzie, who was there in all her intervals of rest; and Lightwood, who never left him.

The two days became three, and the three days became four. At length, quite unexpectedly, he said something in a whisper.

'What was it, my dear Eugene?'

'Will you, Mortimer —'

'Will I —?

— 'Send for her?'

'My dear fellow, she is here.'


The moment realized in this illustrations undoubtedly is the arrival of a clergyman (center) to perform a marriage:

As the evening light lengthened the heavy reflections of the trees in the river, another figure came with a soft step into the sick room.

'Is he conscious?' asked the little dressmaker, as the figure took its station by the pillow. For, Jenny had given place to it immediately, and could not see the sufferer's face, in the dark room, from her new and removed position.

'He is conscious, Jenny,' murmured Eugene for himself. 'He knows his wife.'


Consequently, Stone has facilitated the chapter's creating suspense by inserting the one figure not mentioned in the chapter previous to its conclusion, the minister who will marry Lizzie and Eugene. If the reader has studied to illustration prior to reading the entire chapter, the figure of the clergyman is an enigma, but, if the reader waits to examine the plate until the last page of the October 1865 installment, the meaning of the illustration is clear: the climax of Eugene's deciding whether to propose Marriage to the girl from the river and her agreeing to accept him.

Marcus Stone has added the one important element lacking in the text: Lizzie's loving look of concern for Eugene, propped up on an enormous pillow and passing in and out of consciousness. Everything else is almost as Dickens describes, including Jenny's work-table, the assortment medicines, and the position of Lightwood. What the illustrator has adjusted in order to render the scene more compact is Jenny's location: in the text, she is clearly at the foot of the bed, so that Eugene can make ready eye-contact with her, but Stone has moved Jenny and her table to Mortimer's side in order to reduce the picture's width. The enormous, four-poster bed and its hangings dwarf the sufferer, who is rigid and expressionless, while the other characters — except the clergyman — have more animated expressions and postures. Thus, although the illustration reveals that Lizzie is present and puzzles the reader with the presence of the fifth figure, it does not reveal whether Eugene will live or die, but renders credible Lizzie's decision to marry above her class the man whom she loves.


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Kim | 5573 comments Mod


Miss Jenny gave up altogether on this parting taking place between the friends, and sitting with her back towards the bed in the bower made by her bright hair, wept heartily, though noiselessly.

Book 4, Chapter 10

James Mahoney

1875 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

"Glancing wistfully around, Eugene saw Miss Jenny at the foot of the bed, looking at him with her elbows on the bed, and her head upon her hands. There was a trace of his whimsical air upon him, as he tried to smile at her.

"Yes indeed," said Lightwood, "the discovery was hers. Observe, my dear Eugene; while I am away you will know that I have discharged my trust with Lizzie, by finding her here, in my present place at your bedside, to leave you no more. A final word before I go. This is the right course of a true man, Eugene. And I solemnly believe, with all my soul, that if Providence should mercifully restore you to us, you will be blessed with a noble wife in the preserver of your life, whom you will dearly love."

"Amen. I am sure of that. But I shall not come through it, Mortimer."

"You will not be the less hopeful or less strong, for this, Eugene."

"No. Touch my face with yours, in case I should not hold out till you come back. I love you, Mortimer. Don't be uneasy for me while you are gone. If my dear brave girl will take me, I feel persuaded that I shall live long enough to be married, dear fellow."

Miss Jenny gave up altogether on this parting taking place between the friends, and sitting with her back towards the bed in the bower made by her bright hair, wept heartily, though noiselessly. Mortimer Lightwood was soon gone. As the evening light lengthened the heavy reflections of the trees in the river, another figure came with a soft step into the sick room.

"Is he conscious?" asked the little dressmaker, as the figure took its station by the pillow. For, Jenny had given place to it immediately, and could not see the sufferer's face, in the dark room, from her new and removed position.

"He is conscious, Jenny," murmured Eugene for himself. "He knows his wife."




Commentary: At Eugene's Beside: Sick-bed or Death-bed?

As is the case with the comic subplot involving Fledgeby and the Lammles, Jenny Wren is a connecting presence. Immediately after the scene in which she mortifies Fascination Fledgeby for his posturing and deceit she appears in this gravely serious scene at the foot of Eugene's bed, perhaps his deathbed. Marcus Stone in a similar composition entitled simply Eugene's Bedside facilitated the chapter's creating suspense by inserting the one figure not mentioned in the chapter previous to its conclusion, the minister who will marry Lizzie and Eugene. Through his lengthy caption Mahoney makes it plain that Jenny Wren and Mortimer Lightwood are at Eugene's bedside, but avoids showing the other characters so that the reader must consult and complete perusal of the text in order to assess the situation accurately, and discover from the closing line of the chapter that Lizzie has finally accepted Eugene's marriage proposal. Mahoney's handling of the scene is therefore much more emotional than Stone's as Jenny breaks down at the foot of the bed, and his illustration gives no indication as to whether Eugene will recover or will marry Lizzie, who is not shown. An odd repetition is occasioned by Eugene's head-bandage, which resembles the Turkish pasha headgear of Fascination Fledgeby, whose comeuppance at the hands (and fists) is so poetically just.

Although numerous characters are regularly killed off in modern action films, such was not the case in Victorian literature. The death of poet Arthur Henry Hallam, for example, had so profound an effect on his young colleague, Alfred Lord Tennyson, that he ceased publishing for a time and then produced one of the century's most significant works, In Memorial A. H. H. (1850). Although today critics often regard sentimentality as the great failing of Victorian literature, writers such as Dickens were masters at manipulating readers' sentimental responses to scenes of death as set pieces for thematic and even political purposes, as the death of Jo the crossing-sweeper in Bleak House and Little Dick in Oliver Twist pointedly suggest. Sometimes, Dickens merely alludes to the death, revealing its impact on living, but in certain death-bed scenes Dickens almost wallows editorially in grief, describing a character's passing with heightened rhetoric and moving detail, almost directing the reader how and what to feel in response to the character's suffering. Thus, the serial readers of Our Mutual Friend in the autumn of 1865 could reasonably have expected that, despite his personal merits and importance to the plot, Eugene Wrayburn would die from injuries he sustained in Bradley Headstone's brutal assault. A greater source of suspense, perhaps, would have been whether Lizzie Hexam, the self-reliant girl of the working class, would agree to marry the young attorney on his death-bed in the waterside inn where she had taken him, unconscious, after rescuing him from drowning.

Since Dickens was master of the death-bed scene, Mahoney had a number of visual antecedents to consult for what, at first blush, is yet another death-bed scene, but turns out to be a near-death experience paralleling that of both John Harmon and Rogue Riderhood earlier in Our Mutual Friend. Here, once again, is the "returned-to-life" motif that dominates the 1859 historical novel A Tale of Two Cities (1859), in which the ghost of Terese Defarge's murdered brother cries "Vengeance!" from beyond the grave, although the pathetic scene in which he dies at the hands of the brothers Ste. Evrémonde does not occur in the original pictorial sequence provided by the 1859 illustrator, Phiz, and had to await realization by Fred Barnard in the 1870s Household Edition. Dickens does not dare to exploit the death-bed for ironic humor as he does in Hablot Knight Browne's I find Mr. Barkis "going out with the tide" in David Copperfield (February 1850). Although Mahoney probably could not draw on Eytinge's 'Poor Tiny Tim!' in the 1868 A Christmas Carol, he would have appreciated the sentimental appeal of the parent praying beside the bed of the dead or dying child. The grievers in this 1875 Mahoney plate are a good friend and an acquaintance, and the person dying is hardly a child, but rather the victim of an unprovoked assault, so that this scene is actually atypical in a Dickens novel, as opposed to Orlick's assault on the shrewish Mrs. Joe in Great Expectations (1861) and the pathetic death of "The Back Attic" in The Chimes (December 1844), a scene that illustrators such as Charles Green in The Death-Bed (1912) have depicted, but that Dickens himself never actually described. Unlike the unfaithful and dissolute Edson in Mrs. Lirriper in E. G. Dalziel's illustration for Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy (1864), Eugene Wrayburn does not deserve this suffering, so that his death would be an awkward reversal of Nemesis or Poetic Justice, as opposed to the self-destruction that Destiny visits upon the neurotic Bradley Headstone, in whose death sentimentality plays no part.


LindaH | 124 comments Beauty and the Beast ...

Since Peter brought up this fairy tale with regard to OMF, I figured there must be something I’m not seeing. Lo and behold, the original was about arranged marriages, at least according to the seventh paragraph in the link below. At the heart of the story is the arrangement of a marriage, as spelled out in Harmon’s will. From the third chapter to the final chapters we cannot yet see, the novel is about how Bella goes from hating that arrangement to the discovery that her happiness is due to that arrangement.

https://www.glamour.com/story/the-rea...


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Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments I haven't yet got to many comments, but I am with Kim when she believes in the sincerity of every tear shed by that honourable upstanding citizen, as Jean would have him at least! :p. Honestly, Tristram, there is no need to fight back the tears! :D. We all know that you are distraught at this deathbed scene. Be true to yourself ...


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Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments For the first time in the whole novel, I believe, I feel warm towards Jenny. Her compassion has found an out. She is a proper little nurse for the patient. It's such a pity that she hadn't allow herhelf


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Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments Sorry truncated and misspelt comment. I meant to say that I wish that she had allowed herself to find some sympathy towards her 'child'. I know that he has disappointed her constantly. He agrees to stop drinking but it never lasts. Poor Miss Jenny has neither the maturity nor the will to see his alcoholism as an addiction, but then I don't suppose that it was understood at all in the 1800s. She is a child who has had to grow up quickly. The father-child role is reversed and that must be such a lonely place for her (and him) to be ...


message 25: by Bionic Jean (last edited Oct 04, 2017 09:37AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I've read the first two chapters and Kim's comment on them, so I haven't read all this thread yet.

But I wanted to say what a surprise all this recent action is. We had it telegraphed about Headstone's attack on Wrayburn, though I wasn't sure whether it would amount to anything. And even now I'm not sure that he will die, (as the note Lightwood has brought indicates). It doesn't seem like Dickens to not provide a happy ending for Lizzie.


message 26: by Bionic Jean (last edited Oct 04, 2017 09:43AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) The death of Mr Dolls was another surprise. Why? I mean as a consequence of what? Alcoholism? I didn't think his liver was in such poor shape as he seemed to get around OK... And why in terms of the story? Just because he's a loose end, or is something going to happen with Jenny as a consequence of the funeral?

I actually like Jenny very much. She's one of the shrewder characters, and I could have shouted for joy when she realised the truth about Riah. Nice little piece about prejudice and anti-Jewish feeling there. Dickens can write this far more slickly than in his early works, where this would surely just have been a sarcastic hectoring diatribe.


message 27: by Bionic Jean (last edited Oct 04, 2017 09:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I also enjoyed the off-scene action with Lammle, and Fledgeby getting his just desserts. I hadn't seen that coming either and thought the Lammleses had walked off into the sunset ... I should have trusted Dickens to not let us down, if someone has profited by their manipulative greed.

There are still characters in this novel whom I completely forget when they are not in the action for a while. Young Blight, for instance!


message 28: by Bionic Jean (last edited Oct 04, 2017 09:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I feel like you Kim, that it doesn't seem long since we started this one (which is why I can't quite believe The Mystery of Edwin Drood is coming up so soon!) Yet when I talk to my other friends on Goodreads they are amazed I am still reading it! I try saying that it is still four times faster than the original readers were able to!

I wonder if Dickens's original readers found it easier or harder to establish the characters in their minds. Easier to forget, but also longer to mull over their personalities, motives and what might happen next, perhaps.


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Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments Hi Kim
The traditional English nursery rhyme 'Jack and Jill' has 'vinegar and brown paper' in it. Concerning Jack after falling down the hill
'He went to bed to mend his head
With vinegar and brown paper'


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Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments I like the 'little' repetition. I like Lizzie. I like Lightwood. I like Dickens.


message 31: by Peter (last edited Oct 04, 2017 01:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter | 2976 comments Mod
LindaH wrote: "Beauty and the Beast ...

Since Peter brought up this fairy tale with regard to OMF, I figured there must be something I’m not seeing. Lo and behold, the original was about arranged marriages, at l..."


Ah, Linda. You know I love to see patterns and I have great faith that Dickens will not let us down if we dig around a bit. It has been enjoyable to watch him unfold the fairy tale motif. Thank you for letting our fellow readers see how Dickens pulls the literary fairy tale rabbit out of the story. Dickens turns a Belle into a Bella.

And just imagine, there could be more still to come ...


Peter | 2976 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "I also enjoyed the off-scene action with Lammle, and Fledgeby getting his just desserts. I hadn't seen that coming either and thought the Lammleses had walked off into the sunset ... I should have ..."

Yes Jean. I wish the Lammles well. I have both disliked them and enjoyed their disruptive influences, first upon themselves, and, in the latter stages of the novel as they act as catalysts to improve the stature of a character in the novel such as Mr. Boffin or punish a character as in the case of Fledgeby.


Peter | 2976 comments Mod
Kim wrote: ""She beheld the extraordinary spectacle of Mr. Fledgeby in his shirt, a pair of Turkish trousers, and a Turkish cap, rolling over and over on his own carpet, and spluttering wonderfully".

Book 4 C..."


Again, and again, thank you Kim for posting the illustrations and commentary.

The Jenny/Fledgeby commentary was enjoyable, more so that the illustration. Jenny does indeed turn into the good witch as she is one of the agents that punishes Fledgeby. The thrashing of Fledgeby symbolically serves as the Lammles release. Could they actually find happiness as they flee into a new place and perhaps a new attitude towards one another?

The punishing of Fledgeby also shows Jenny in an active role. When she returns home and finds her father dead we see the good witch being released from her curse. She is now free to pursue her life solely on her terms. Thus, in one chapter, Dickens has the Lammles and Jenny effecting their release from the curse or hold of another.

While we must say goodbye to the Lammles could Dickens be planing a reward for Jenny? ...


Peter | 2976 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Miss Wren Fixes Her Idea

Book 4 , Chapter 9

Marcus Stone

Commentary:

Once again, Marcus Stone has chosen the appealing child-adult Jenny Wren and the benevolent Jew, Riah, as the subjects of il..."


Again, I am left rather disappointed with the illustration but very happy to see how the commentary furthers the ideas of how one can portray the novel to be, at least in part, based on various tropes found in fairy tales.


Mary Lou | 2264 comments Peter wrote: "Kim wrote: ""She beheld the extraordinary spectacle of Mr. Fledgeby in his shirt, a pair of Turkish trousers, and a Turkish cap, rolling over and over on his own carpet, and spluttering wonderfully..."

I think it takes a tremendous talent to write a scene like the Fledgeby flogging. Doing it "off screen" so to speak, and letting the reader use his imagination is probably something that requires great restraint from an author, but the pay-off is huge - very effective.

As for Jenny not being able to nurse her father as she did with Eugene, Eugene was much kinder and more helpful to Jenny in the short time she knew him than her father seemed to be. And of course, she had no expectations of Eugene, whereas a child knows her father is meant to provide love, basic needs, and security, which Jenny never got. I would think any child would resent that kind of role reversal.


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Ami | 371 comments Tristram wrote: "As to my tears, Kim, they were there indeed. But a closer inspection under the microscope revealed them to be tears of joy felt at the knowledge that this time I did not have to do the recaps of th..."

As to Eugene and Lizzie's wedding scene, those two long, long chapters, I'd just say, HUMBUG.
Good God...What a slog to endure. Such sap! All I could think about was how in the previous chapter, considering how Headstone went to town on Eugene and the status of Victorian medicine... I'm not a doctor, but Eugene has to be suffering from a cracked skull and cerebral oedema (brain swelling), bearing in mind his symptoms, how is this man even living?


message 37: by Ami (last edited Oct 05, 2017 11:01AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ami | 371 comments I enjoyed Tristram's comment about spilling tears, alluding to sadness, but revealing joy instead. As we approach the very end in "OMF," I was for the first time actually brought to tears in Chapter 9, it was during the conversation between Riah and Jenny...
‘It looked so bad, Jenny,’ responded the old man, with gravity, ‘that I will straightway tell you what an impression it wrought upon me. I was hateful in mine own eyes. I was hateful to myself, in being so hateful to the debtor and to you. But more than that, and worse than that, and to pass out far and broad beyond myself—I reflected that evening, sitting alone in my garden on the housetop, that I was doing dishonour to my ancient faith and race. I reflected—clearly reflected for the first time—that in bending my neck to the yoke I was willing to wear, I bent the unwilling necks of the whole Jewish people. For it is not, in Christian countries, with the Jews as with other peoples. Men say, ‘This is a bad Greek, but there are good Greeks. This is a bad Turk, but there are good Turks.’ Not so with the Jews. Men find the bad among us easily enough—among what peoples are the bad not easily found?—but they take the worst of us as samples of the best; they take the lowest of us as presentations of the highest; and they say “All Jews are alike.” If, doing what I was content to do here, because I was grateful for the past and have small need of money now, I had been a Christian, I could have done it, compromising no one but my individual self. But doing it as a Jew, I could not choose but compromise the Jews of all conditions and all countries. It is a little hard upon us, but it is the truth. I would that all our people remembered it! Though I have little right to say so, seeing that it came home so late to me...'

‘Thus I reflected, I say, sitting that evening in my garden on the housetop. And passing the painful scene of that day in review before me many times, I always saw that the poor gentleman believed the story readily, because I was one of the Jews—that you believed the story readily, my child, because I was one of the Jews—that the story itself first came into the invention of the originator thereof, because I was one of the Jews. This was the result of my having had you three before me, face to face, and seeing the thing visibly presented as upon a theatre. Wherefore I perceived that the obligation was upon me to leave this service. But Jenny, my dear,’ said Riah, breaking off, ‘I promised that you should pursue your questions, and I obstruct them (708).'

Reading through this again, the sentences in bold still touch me to the core...How does one read in bending my neck to the yoke I was willing to wear, I bent the unwilling necks of the whole Jewish people and not visualize or feel the weight of his words? In a previous thread, I mentioned reading an article that Riah's depiction as a Jew in "OMF" was written as an apology by Dickens to all of his critics from whom he received negative criticisms regarding the anti-Semitic portrayal of Fagin in "OT." Well, I think the above section in Chapter 9 is a blatant apology, if there ever was one, is it not? If anything, it does show compassion for the Jewish plight in these lines despite the questionable portrayal of Riah (Jenny referring to Riah as a godmother when he is in fact a man). I added an extra star to my rating for this novel, and it will be one of the more prominent take-aways for me at the turn of the last page.

Dear Jean,

Here is the article, Dickens and Jews: An Uncomfortable Issue. Also I came upon a research paper as well, while trying to find the article itself. It's a PDF, you can google and read...Of Daughters and Ducats: Our Mutual Friend and Dickens's Anti-Shylock by James D. Mardack.


message 38: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5573 comments Mod
Hilary wrote: "Hi Kim
The traditional English nursery rhyme 'Jack and Jill' has 'vinegar and brown paper' in it. Concerning Jack after falling down the hill
'He went to bed to mend his head
With vinegar and brown..."


Thanks Hilary, I had forgotten to look that one up.


Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
LindaH wrote: "I think if you want to find the highest frequency of the word “Little” —and no one here wants to obviously— you need look no further than Mother Goose and nursery tales. Since Dickens has so many r..."

If he had walked a crocodile instead of "a crooked mile" in the second line, the house would have had to be much larger :-)


Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "I find that OMF presents the reader with more examples of self-made and sufficient females than other novels. I would even go further and suggest that Bella is a step forward in Dickens's development of female characters."

Two very good observations, Peter! Bella is indeed much more ambivalent than the normal Dickensian goody-two-shoes, and it would have been interesting to see what the female characters were going to be like in later Dickens novels. Maybe a point we should keep in mind with regard to Edwin Drood?

There are lots of self-sufficient women in OMF: Lizzie, Jenny, Miss Potterson - landladies in Dickens usually are -, Betty Higden, Mrs Boffin (of that in a few days), and in an evil kind of way also Mrs Lammle.


Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: " would even go further and suggest that Bella is a step forward in Dickens's development of female characters. ..."

I agree to an extent, Peter. She's matured in that she is no longe..."


What you wrote there about Bella's becoming a typical Victorian housewife reminds me a bit of Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. My students always note that she hardly says anything in the last Act.


Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
Hilary wrote: "I haven't yet got to many comments, but I am with Kim when she believes in the sincerity of every tear shed by that honourable upstanding citizen, as Jean would have him at least! :p. Honestly, Tri..."

Here is a scene that always makes me cry, Hilary!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvfIs...


Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "I feel like you Kim, that it doesn't seem long since we started this one (which is why I can't quite believe The Mystery of Edwin Drood is coming up so soon!) Yet when I talk to my ot..."

Maybe, original readers read the instalments more than once, e.g. when a reader after the perusal decided to read the instalment to others who couldn't read. There was no TV at the time, and although people had more work to do, they were probably not disinclined to give these instalments a very close reading when waiting for the story to go on.


Tristram Shandy | 4381 comments Mod
Ami wrote: "Tristram wrote: "I'm not a doctor, but Eugene has to be suffering from a cracked skull and cerebral oedema (brain swelling), bearing in mind his symptoms, how is this man even living?"

Every cloud has a silver lining, Ami: Maybe, the cracked skull and cerebral oedema helped ward off the detrimental effects of those mawkish two chapters, and otherwise Eugene would have died of boredom - like, I'm sure, many an incautious reader had in his time.


Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Tristram wrote: "Maybe, original readers read the instalments more than once ... they were probably not disinclined to give these instalments a very close reading when waiting for the story to go on. ..."

I like this idea very much! Probably in common with others here, I feel so much is missed when readers zoom through Dickens just for the story (if that is the only way they ever read him).


message 46: by Bionic Jean (last edited Oct 06, 2017 12:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Ami wrote: "Dear Jean, Here is the article, Dickens and Jews: An Uncomfortable Issue..." Thanks Ami! I can't say I found it altogether convincing, did you? To borrow your technique:

"Dickens created Riah, a compassionate Jew who works for a Christian money lender.

But even the creation of Riah is suspect. To create a good Jew to offset a bad Jew is more transparent than contrite. Moreover, Riah is depicted as effeminate and by no means heroic. His creation hardly rectifies the overwhelming example of Fagin."


By implication, the "Christian money lender" is a good egg - ie. morally pure. Does this describe the Fledgeby we know and love?

"Effeminate"? Did I miss something? And anyway, what if he were?

"Overwhelming"? What I have quoted is the sum total of his critique of Riah! Your own quotations of the positive depiction of Riah in Our Mutual Friend are more than a match for anything derogatory in Oliver Twist.

I can't help but feel this is a biased view, with far more emphasis placed on the earlier novel than the later. Perhaps Tristram's examples of the original readers reading more closely would have helped Mr. John O’Neill.


Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Hilary wrote: "I haven't yet got to many comments, but I am with Kim when she believes in the sincerity of every tear shed by that honourable upstanding citizen, as Jean would have him at least! :p..."

Sorry Hilary but I'm completely baffled by this! I'm not even sure who we're talking about ... What have I said?


message 48: by Bionic Jean (last edited Oct 06, 2017 12:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Mary Lou wrote: "I think it takes a tremendous talent to write a scene like the Fledgeby flogging..."

I completely agree, and enjoyed this hugely. It carried me through the rest of the Victorian sentimentality. No doubt I was supposed to be a blubbering wreck, but I guess I must be very hard-nosed. Dear oh dear, didn't it go on ...

I hadn't wished for quite such a punishment for dear Eugene, and of course it was out of all proportion for his "crime". But I couldn't help noticing the juxtaposition between two dislikable and morally disgraceful characters getting their comeuppance. I don't think Dickens liked Eugene Wrayburn very much in the early days, and is making up for it with what are intended to be very affecting passages, but which feel so very dated and saccharin.

Also of course, it's stringing it out so that we end this installment on a cliffhanger. I can imagine people as they were at the docks shouting out "Does Little Nell die?" but in this case worried about poor dear Eugene.


message 49: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments You're welcome, Kim!

Ah Tristram who could blame you! 😊. That music!

Hi Jean, I have a thought that perhaps you were not over the moon about Eugene. Did you or someone else refer to him as a lounge lizard? Or was I dreaming?! :D

I agree with you, Jean, that there is bias towards seeing OT's Fagin as the overriding truth as it stands. I totally love the character of Riah. The only reason for using effeminacy as a criticism (and you're quite right what's wrong with it?) that I could see was Jenny's calling him 'godmother'. I read this that Riah was a caring and maternal friend and Jenny needed a mother-type and her father certainly was not there for her! So Riah was
In a way playing the role of both parents for miss Jenny Wren.


message 50: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments Oh Jean, I believe that it's in Book 4 Ch5 to Ch7 where you compare Bradley Headstone favourably with Eugene Wrayburn.


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