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Oliver Twist > Oliver Twist Chapters 33-37

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Tristram Chapter 33

Hello my friends

We begin this chapter with signs of growth and health both for the natural world which has changed from “the great trees which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months [but] had now burst into strong life and health” and Oliver who “had long since grown stout and healthy.” Here we see, once again, how Dickens enjoys balancing the elements of nature to the state of being of his characters. I often think that if I ever need to understand a Dickens character I need only look out a window when that character is in the vicinity.

We read that one evening Oliver and Rose go on a long walk but shortly after their return home Rose is heard weeping. For no reason, it seems, Rose announces she is ill and she has turned into a “marble whiteness” that soon alters to a look much like a “crimson flush” which turns, once more, to a “more deadly pale.” This is quite the colour spectrum of illness. Mrs Maylie confesses to Oliver that she is also worried about Rose’s health. What follows is an impassioned speech from Mrs Maylie on life and death. At this point of Mrs Maylie’s grief we read that Oliver observed how Mrs Maylie “[drew] herself up as she spoke, [and] became composed and firm.” He was still more astonished to find that “the firmness lasted.”

Thoughts

To this point in the novel Oliver has experienced the rough world of Fagin, the bullying and violence of Bumble and Sikes and the contrasting love of such people as Brownlow, Mrs Maylie, and Rose. Oliver observes at this point in the novel how one must deal with the possibility of death of a loved one. What other lessons has Oliver learned that will help form the basis for his maturation as the novel progresses?


Mrs Maylie plans to send a note to Mr Losberne and dispatches Oliver to perform the task. She has a second letter which is addressed to a Mr Harry Maylie but chooses not to send it just yet. Oliver runs through the fields to the market -place in town. All goes well until Oliver bumps into a tall man who is wrapped in a cloak who takes one look at Oliver and then exclaims “what the devil’s this?” Oliver apologies but the man says to Oliver “curses on your head, and Black Death on your heart, you imp!” The man then shakes his fist at Oliver and then “fell violently on the ground: writhing and foaming, in a fit.” Such a reaction to Oliver’s presence suggests to me that this new character is one who we should keep an eye upon in the future.

Thoughts

Dickens is in the habit of introducing minor characters in a early chapter of a novel and then bringing them back at a later stage of the novel to play an increasingly more important part in the plot. Who is this man, why might he have been re-introduced by Dickens and how does he fit into our known narrative?


The chapter progresses and Rose gets worse. Mr Losberne arrives and comments “so young; so much loved; but there is very little hope.” Rose gets worse and Oliver learns that Rose “had fallen into a deep sleep, from which she would waken, either to full recovery and life, or bid them farewell, and die.”

And our chapter ends we learn that Rose will not die but she “will live to bless us all, for years to come.” Upon hearing the news Mrs Maylie falls to her knees and faints. I found this chapter rather strange in that Dickens begins with Rose in good health, then brings her to the brink of death only to restore her to health as the chapter ends.


Thoughts

I can’t help but think of Dickens own grief with the loss of his sister-in-law when reading this chapter.


Since Rose does live, and Dickens does not drag her ill health through subsequent chapters (as he does another young woman we will read of soon) what possible reason would Dickens have for writing this chapter of impending death when the person not only does not die but apparently has a rather miraculous recovery?


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Tristram Chapter 34

Oliver is, of course, overjoyed at the news of Rose’s recovery and gathers flowers for her sick chamber. On his way back home a post-chaise passes him going full speed, but comes to an abrupt halt and Giles leans out the window and asks how Rose is. There is a gentleman with Giles who is very concerned about Rose. He turns out to be Harry Maylie, Mrs Maylie’s son, who is described as about 25, middle height, with a frank and handsome countenance. It turns out that Harry has deep affection for Rose, but Mrs Maylie cautions Harry against forming an attachment due to Rose’s history and her doubtful birth. What could this new revelation suggest? In any case, Harry claims an affection for Rose that knows no bounds or depths.

Thoughts

Up to this point in the novel I thought Rose was a perfect Victorian young lady, but I was wrong. Dickens has introduced an interesting complication to our story. What could possibly be the hidden past of Rose? In what ways could this secret link to other earlier events in the story?


I would be remiss if I did not note that with Rose’s improving health Dickens mentions that the pet birds are now happy again and Oliver’s sadness has been “dispelled by magic.” He and Harry Maylie now join forces to gather flowers for Rose. One evening while Oliver was at his studies he fell asleep and dreamed he was at Fagin’s house again. Oliver dreamed that Fagin was with another man whose face was averted. Both men were talking and confirming that Oliver was, in fact, Oliver. Oliver woke in fear but was certain that he saw Fagin and the man who accosted him in the inn-yard. A moment later they were gone. Oliver calls out in fear as the chapter ends.


Thoughts

Who is this new man and why is he so interested in Oliver?

This was a chapter of mystery. What is in Rose’s past that makes Mrs Maylie, who loves Rose so much, not want her son to openly express his love for Rose? Did Oliver really see Fagin and the other man in the window? How can we account for Rose’s sudden illness and seemingly equal miraculous recovery?


Here is a link to the Victorian Web that discusses how the death of Dickens’s sister-in-law impacted the writing of Oliver Twist and all subsequent novels.


http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/d...


message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Tristram Chapter 35

Oliver’s cries for help are heard and it is not long before Harry Maylie, Giles, Mr Losberne and Oliver are off on the chase to track down Fagin. Have you noticed that there are many chase scenes in the novel? At least this time Oliver is the one chasing rather than being chased after. I imagine part of the reason is everyone (and every reader) enjoys a good chase. It might be a good idea to keep track of the chase scenes in the novel for we are not finished with them yet. The chase scenes are an interesting way to track the arc of the narrative.

For all their earnest Pickwickian energy and a few fumbles and tumbles along the way, the search is in vain. Oliver insists it was not a dream but he saw Fagin and the man from the inn in town. The search for the two men continues the next day and the next but no further success on finding the men occurs.

Thoughts

Clearly Fagin and Monks have a very keen interest in Oliver. What clues to their intent have we accumulated so far?


Rose continues to feel better and she and Mrs Maylie are often “closeted together for long periods of time; and more than once Rose appeared with traces of tears upon her face.” Dickens tells us that “something was in progress which affected the peace of the young lady, and of somebody else besides.” I think it is logical to assume that Harry Maylie is an important part of the tears and the mystery.

Thoughts

What are we make of all this? What is Rose’s mysterious past? Can Rose’s mysterious past be linked to Oliver’s, and if so how?


What follows are a few paragraphs of Harry pleading for Rose’s attention and love and Rose tearfully rejecting his honourable intentions. There appears no way to break this impasse as Rose insists that Harry “must endeavour to forget [Rose] and move beyond her and progress through the world.” I must confess that this conversation is rather tiresome. Rose is the too good innocent woman and Harry is the too earnest persistent lover. It is all very noble that Rose does not want to stand in the way of Harry’s apparent opportunity for grand success in life, but how serious could the “stain” upon Rose’s name be that she is determined to “carry it into no blood but my own; and the reproach shall rest alone on me.” Harry presses one more question upon Rose and that is if he had been “poor, sick, helpless” would Rose have been more inclined to accept his love. At this point I’m wondering if Harry will renounce his name, his social class, and all his present and future fortune for Rose. Perhaps Harry will join Fagin’s crew to lower his good name and prospects for Rose. OK, perhaps that would be too much to ask, but I do wonder ...


Thoughts


I found this chapter very saccharine. Perhaps after many of the other relationships such as Sikes and Nancy, Bumble and Corney, and Claypole and Charlotte an innocent and earnest pair of apparently star-crossed lovers is just what the novel needs. What was your opinion of the Harry-Rose chapter of misaligned love?


message 4: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Tristram Chapter 36

If you are like me (when it comes to Dickens, at least) you will enjoy reading each chapter’s epigraph. This chapter has a great one. Evidently, we are to look upon this chapter “as a sequel to the last, and a key to one that will follow when its time arrives.” Well, OK. Let’s see, however, what is contained in this chapter.

After his communication with Rose, Harry is in a hurry to leave the country but he does not tell the doctor the real reason. Apparently, Harry is favoured to get into parliament and this is the assumed reason Harry is heading back to London. Before he leaves, Harry asks Oliver to write him once a fortnight and tell his the news of his aunt and Rose, but asks Oliver not to mention this arrangement to the ladies. And so, in a cloud of dust, Off goes Harry and he leaves his aunt’s home.

As this short chapter ends we learn that Rose had been behind a white curtain that shrouded her from view. Dickens tells the reader that “Tears are signs of gladness as well as grief; but those which coursed down Rose’s face, as she sat pensively at the window, still gazing in the same direction, seemed to tell more of sorrow than of joy.”


Thoughts


Rose has insisted that she was not worthy of Harry for some yet unexplained reason. What do these tears indicate to you about Rose’s true feelings?

In the epigraph Dickens tells us that chapter 36 will be “a key to [a chapter] that will follow when its time arrives.” Now, that phrase certainly makes us wonder what time is to come. What do you think Dickens might have up his sleeve for Rose and Harry in the future?


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Tristram Chapter 37

This chapter takes us from the relative tranquility of the Maylie country home to the gloomy workhouse parlour of Bumble where we find him contemplating “a Paper fly-cage [that] dangled from the ceiling.” Can we see this paper fly-cage as a symbol? Could we speculate that although Bumble has been promoted to master of the workhouse he has not freed himself or gained any prestige, but rather finds himself entrapped like the flies. The flies have their “fly-cage” to confine them; for his part, Bumble is now married to Mrs Corney. Bumble believes he sold himself for a few pieces of silver and second-hand furniture. In the span of two months of married life he has gone from being in charge to being fully domesticated and entrapped in marriage. Bumble tells Mrs Bumble that “the prerogative of a man is to command.” This proclamation leads to tears from Mrs Bumble, but our melodramatic and domestic scene is not finished yet.

Mrs Bumble proceeds to clasp Bumble “tightly round the throat” and inflict “a shower of blows” upon his head. To end this rather physical bit of matrimony we read that Mr Bumble was “fairly beaten.” Bumble leaves the house and proceeds to where other women were washing the parish linen. There he sees his wife and master again and is told by her that he is not to interfere, not to poke his nose where it does not belong, and that he makes a fool of himself every hour of the day.” To conclude this rather amazing dispute we read that as a result of this confrontation with his wife Bumble “had lost caste and station before the very paupers; he had fallen from all the height and pomp of beadleship, to the lowest depth of the most snubbed hen-peckery.”

Thoughts


Well, I can’t help saying that Bumble has been humbled. How surprised were you by this turn of events? What could Dickens possibly have in mind by this drastic turn of events?


In order to sooth his shattered ego Bumble heads for a deserted tavern where there is only one other customer who is tall, dark, and wearing a large cloak. This man appeared dusty and had the aura of someone who had travelled far. This man had a face with “a scowl of distrust and suspicion, unlike anything [Bumble] had observed before, and repulsive to behold.” A conversation follows in which the cloaked man confirms that Bumble was once the parochial beadle. Once confirmed, the cloaked man buys Bumble a drink and then recounts how he is looking for information on the woman that attended Oliver’s mother’s birth. He wants to know where this woman is. When told that old Sally was dead, the cloaked man seems resigned. Bumble, for his part, is quick enough to realize something must be up. Bumble knows that something had happened the night of Oliver’s birth and that his wife was the solitary witness to the birth. Consequently, Bumble makes arrangements to bring his wife to see this man tomorrow night. The man that Bumble and his wife are to see is named Monks.


Thoughts


Monks has been hovering around the edges of the novel and now it appears Dickens is going to bring him to the centre stage of our story. There is something about Oliver’s mother that is of great importance to Monks and we recall that Monks has been interested in Oliver earlier in the novel. What could be a possible reason for Monks’ interest in the birth of Oliver’s mother?

How has Dickens heightened the mystery and suspense of the novel in this chapter?

In what ways is Dickens beginning to draw the various people and plot lines together in this chapter?


message 6: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2308 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 33

What other lessons has Oliver learned that will help form the basis for his maturation as the novel progresses?"


Interesting question, Peter. It seems to me that there are a few ingredients to maturation (aside from time on this earth), among them: adversity; pushing the limits of one's "comfort zone" (a phrase I hate, but that's a conversation for some evening when I've over-imbibed at the Three Cripples); romantic attachment; and mourning. Have I missed any other ingredients to this stew?

Oliver has surely had adversity - more than anyone deserves, especially one so young. We've all read his history; I need not elaborate.

Oliver has also definitely expanded his horizons and taken chances. Asking for more seems a small thing, but we all know that Oliver was not one to rock the boat. Add to that his beating of Noah Claypole, and his escape to London. These are all decisions he made for himself (despite circumstances nudging, if not shoving, him in that direction).

Oliver's also done some mourning, if not on an intimate level. He mourns the presence of a mother (but seemingly not a father, which is something we might explore sometime). His job with Sowerberry brought him close to death and others who mourned loved ones. He's also experienced a less permanent loss with young Dick, as well as those in Mr. Brownlow's household.

So, in answer to the original question, it seems to me that the lessons Oliver has yet to learn in his maturation are those of romantic love. Whatever little crush he may have on Rose doesn't seem to go as far as a First Love. How will having a seat on the sidelines for Nancy and Sikes relationship, twisted as it is, impact his outlook on love? Contrast that with his only other example, the saccharin and overly selfless love between Harry and Rose. As he's seen lots of light v. dark in his short life and still seems to be an angelic figure, we can only assume that the lessons he learns about love from these two couples will only continue to strengthen his morality and goodness. But wouldn't it be a fun twist (yes, I said it!) if Dickens had Oliver decide to frolic a bit on the dark side? ;-)


message 7: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2308 comments Peter wrote: "Mrs Maylie plans to send a note to Mr Losberne and dispatches Oliver to perform the task...."

Am I the only one whose stomach knots up when Oliver is sent on an errand?


message 8: by Mary Lou (last edited Jul 22, 2018 12:35PM) (new)

Mary Lou | 2308 comments Peter wrote: "what possible reason would Dickens have for writing this chapter of impending death when the person not only does not die but apparently has a rather miraculous recovery? "

I think it's twofold. First, sheer self-indulgence, working through his own grief. But at least it was also used, I think, as a vehicle to bring Harry into the story. Harry surely could have come home from wherever he was (do we know? I didn't pick up on it, if it was mentioned) without Rose having a brush with death. But this gave us some drama, and also put some urgency behind his proposal.

As to Rose's past.... I had it in my head that she was Mrs. Maylie's niece. Did I make that up? From the cryptic but disparaging remarks in this week's segment, it sounds more like she was of "lower" birth, and more of a charity case. She certainly comes with some sort of baggage. If we hadn't been assured that Oliver's mother died, I'd assume they were one and the same, and that her last name was Brownlow, but those pieces aren't adding up. I'm thoroughly befuddled at this point, and hoping we'll get some illumination in the next chapter.


message 9: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Am I the only one whose stomach knots up when Oliver is sent on an errand?"

You're not the only one. I'm concerned about Harry roping Oliver into writing secret letters. Now Oliver will go out alone to send the letters, while Fagin and Monks are looking for him! No one in the house knows about the plan, so they won't be able to protect or keep watch.

Harry seems like a well-intentioned guy, but it's obvious he's using Oliver to spy on his lover, Rose, a selfish move on his part.

Oliver was so eager to help, that he didn't find it odd when Harry swore him to secrecy. Maybe nothing will come of it, but it doesn't look good.

I think Oliver needs to learn about self-interest and self-defense. Standing up to Noah was a good start, but he needs to channel his inner Dodger and calculate his actions more.


message 10: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments I suspect Rose turned ill so Mrs. Maylie would send Oliver on that errand to town and he'd bump into the cloaked man. A little extravagant? Possibly a bit redundant? What, no bookstall? Yes, but like Mary Lou says, we're being trained to never send Oliver to town on an errand. Another reason may have been to introduce Harry, although there were lots of ways to do that.

Reading Dickens from start to finish is a good way to watch him mature as a writer. Right now he's just beginning, and I think it shows. The good v. bad is always there in a Dickens novel, in the plot and in the characters, but here Dickens hits his readers over their heads with it. Like many beginning writers he feels he must tell the reader someone is good and not just show him. This leads at times to some dread awful dialog. But as time goes on, I think, we see Dickens realize readers don't have to be told something to know it, and his stories become the better for it.


message 11: by Xan (last edited Jul 23, 2018 05:46AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Peter wrote: "What could possibly be the hidden past of Rose?..."

Not Rose but someone close, likely a relative. One might ask how Rose came to live with Mrs. Maylie?

The conversation between Mrs. Maylie and her son, Harry, was very Shakespearian, I thought. Anyone else? Of course, I'm not a Shakespeare acolyte, so take that with a grain of salt.

I'm someone who can fall asleep at a drop of a dime. I can drink 5 cups of coffee and start nodding off as soon as a conversation starts lagging. At the same time, once awakened in the middle of the night, that's that. I'm up. So I would have plenty of time (all by my lonesome) to freak over visions in the window.


message 12: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Peter wrote: "What was your opinion of the Harry-Rose chapter of misaligned love?..."

Same as yours. This is a very tired motif in Victorian novels (and Gilded Age novels and Henry James novels and others). I do wonder about the closeting of Mrs. Maylie and Rose, though. The Mrs. did promise her son not to attempt influence over Rose, but here you have the tears and the closeting and the name May-Lie. (Although I'm sure it's only for the best of reasons.)


message 13: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "I suspect Rose turned ill so Mrs. Maylie would send Oliver on that errand to town and he'd bump into the cloaked man. A little extravagant? Possibly a bit redundant? What, no bookstall? Yes, but li..."

You're awful. :-)


message 14: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5700 comments Mod


Monks and the Jew

Chapter 34

George Cruikshank

Text Illustrated:

Oliver knew, perfectly well, that he was in his own little room; that his books were lying on the table before him; that the sweet air was stirring among the creeping plants outside. And yet he was asleep. Suddenly, the scene changed; the air became close and confined; and he thought, with a glow of terror, that he was in the Jew's house again. There sat the hideous old man, in his accustomed corner, pointing at him, and whispering to another man, with his face averted, who sat beside him.

"Hush, my dear!" he thought he heard the Jew say; "it is he, sure enough. Come away."

"He!" the other man seemed to answer; "could I mistake him, think you? If a crowd of ghosts were to put themselves into his exact shape, and he stood amongst them, there is something that would tell me how to point him out. If you buried him fifty feet deep, and took me across his grave, I fancy I should know, if there wasn't a mark above it, that he lay buried there?

The man seemed to say this, with such dreadful hatred, that Oliver awoke with the fear, and started up.

Good Heaven! what was that, which sent the blood tingling to his heart, and deprived him of his voice, and of power to move! There — there — at the window; close before him; so close, that he could have almost touched him before he started back: with his eyes peering into the room, and meeting his: there stood the Jew! And beside him, white with rage or fear, or both, were the scowling features of the man who had accosted him in the inn-yard.

It was but an instant, a glance, a flash, before his eyes; and they were gone. But they had recognised him, and he them; and their look was as firmly impressed upon his memory, as if it had been deeply carved in stone, and set before him from his birth. He stood transfixed for a moment; then, leaping from the window into the garden, called loudly for help. [Chapter 34, "Contains Some Introductory Particulars Relative to a Young Gentleman Who now Arrives Upon the Scene; and a New Adventure which Happened to? ?Oliver,"]


Commentary:

The arrival of the shadowy figure at Oliver's window transforms the narrative from a Newgate Novel and a bildungsroman to a mystery. Now the narrative begins to reveal Fagin's true motives in training the boy to become a thief, for Oliver will either vanish from middle-class eyes into the murky criminal underworld of London, or be incarcerated, or transported — or executed as a felon, all because of this shadowy figure. This shadowy figure is the subject of Sol Eytinge, Junior's character study in the 1867 Diamond Edition of the novel. Whereas most Eytinge studies are of a pair of associated characters, here the American illustrator, well aware (as Cruikshank perhaps was not) of his importance to the plot, shows the melodramatic villain by himself, alienated, brooding, and malevolent, the child of privilege who considers nobody's welfare but his own. The cape in which the various illustrators clothe him is the outward and visible sign of his attempt to act in secret, so that he acts with his criminal associates under an assumed identity. His manner and speech, however, betray his true background. His association with Fagin in Cruikshank's illustration shows that he is prepared to violate the barriers of class and propriety in order to advance his fortunes, even at the cost of Oliver's life. Eytinge, like Cruikshank, depicts the venomous figure as "a tall man wrapped in a cloak" (Ch. 34), his height consistently exaggerated by his hat.

In the Household Edition illustrator James Mahoney focuses much earlier part in the narrative-pictorial sequence. In Chapter 34, in which Dickens re-introduces the "gentleman" with the vicious streak, the illustrator does not realize the highly dramatic moment in which the stranger in the marketplace curses Oliver when the boy goes to the market-town to mail a letter to the Maylies' physician, Mr. Losberne, about Rose's deteriorating health. At The George Inn, where Oliver has just posted the letter, he encounters the peculiar stranger, who swears at him, then inexplicably falls to the ground in the throes of an epileptic seizure, "writhing and foaming" (Household Edition, ch. 34). Although the illustration is not of the villian at all, but of Giles's post-chaise in the following chapter, its placement adjacent to the textual description of the peculiar encounter draws the reader's attention to the textual description of the stranger and signals his reappearance as important to the plot. In fact, Mahoney has depicted him and Fagin earlier, in 'Fagin!' whispered a voice close to his ear, even an astute reader might not connect the mysterious figure in the cloak and top-hat in Chapter 26 ("In which a Mysterious Character Appears upon the Scene; and Many Things, Inseparable from This History, are Done and Performed") from the dismal alley near the intersection of Snow Hill and Holborn with the angry stranger in the marketplace. In the original serialisation, he appears briefly in the Twelfth Part (March 1838), and not again until Part Fifteen (June 1838), so that the serial reader of 1838 may well have lost track of the villian by this point. In the 1846 wrapper, he may be the cloaked figure falling down the stairs with Fagin's gang, although the vignette in the upper-right corner would appear to be symbolic rather than a realisation of an actual incident.

Mahoney's depictions of Monks fail to suggest his haggard visage and sinister intentions towards Oliver. He is simply not sufficiently inscrutable and enigmatic. Fortunately for readers of the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition, Harry Furniss possessed no such scruples, as he foregrounds the sleeping Oliver in Monks and Fagin watching Oliver asleep, a plate positioned ahead of the actual visitation by Fagin and his confederate, who is but indistinctly seen because Furniss has situated Monks in the left-hand margin, thereby cutting off his face and minimizing his figure. The complex pattern of Oliver's chair, reinforcing the diamond panes of the window, imply that the boy is unwittingly caught in a web fashioned by the pair of spiders lurking at his window. To maintain the air of mystery surrounding Monks, Furniss does not give the reader a sense of the man's face, characterizing him solely by his shiny black cape.

Cruikshank depicts Monks just twice in his sequence of twenty-four monthly illustrations, and not at all in the eleven vignettes in the monthly wrapper for 1846, as if he realized that the character is more effective if largely a textual rather than a visual entity. Cruikshank does not make Monks a convincingly diabolical force as his expression is curious rather than malignant, his face clean-shaven and hardly swarthy — even his hat is not remarkable, whereas Fagin's intense gaze at the sleeper draws the viewer's attention away from Monks. Although Oliver's posture is consistent with his having fallen asleep during the course of his studies, in proportion and countenance he does not seem very childlike. The only telling detail, in fact, is the vase of flowers on the window-sill, suggestive of Oliver's searching for flowers with Harry Maylie in order to brighten Rose's sickroom.




message 15: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5700 comments Mod


Looking round, he saw that it was a post-chaise, driven at great speed

Chapter 34

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

It was almost too much happiness to bear. Oliver felt stunned and stupefied by the unexpected intelligence; he could not weep, or speak, or rest. He had scarcely the power of understanding anything that had passed, until, after a long ramble in the quiet evening air, a burst of tears came to his relief, and he seemed to awaken, all at once, to a full sense of the joyful change that had occurred, and the almost insupportable load of anguish which had been taken from his breast.

The night was fast closing in, when he returned homeward: laden with flowers which he had culled, with peculiar care, for the adornment of the sick chamber. As he walked briskly along the road, he heard behind him, the noise of some vehicle, approaching at a furious pace. Looking round, he saw that it was a post-chaise, driven at great speed; and as the horses were galloping, and the road was narrow, he stood leaning against a gate until it should have passed him.

As it dashed on, Oliver caught a glimpse of a man in a white nightcap, whose face seemed familiar to him, although his view was so brief that he could not identify the person. In another second or two, the nightcap was thrust out of the chaise-window, and a stentorian voice bellowed to the driver to stop: which he did, as soon as he could pull up his horses. Then, the nightcap once again appeared: and the same voice called Oliver by his name.


Commentary:

"Looking round, he saw that it was a post-chaise, driven at great speed." — James Mahoney's eighteenth illustration is about a lesser incident in Chapter 34 than the appearance of Fagin and Monks at Oliver's window. Mahoney, keenly aware that his predecessor had already treated the visit of Fagin and Monks to Oliver's home in the country, focusses on much earlier part in the narrative-pictorial sequence. Mahoney exploits the sudden appearance of a speeding carriage to create suspense in the Household Edition. In the original narrative-pictorial serial sequence by George Cruikshank in Bentley's Miscellany, the periodical reader encountered a pictorial realization of the terrifying moment which shatters Oliver's three-months' peace of mind Fagin and Monks in (Part 15, June 1838), for Chapter 34. The speeding carriage is something of a red herring in that it has nothing to do with Monks, although it is connected with Rose Maylie's serious illness, an issue which has absorbed much of the previous chapter. In Chapter 33, Oliver's new-found happiness with the Maylies receives "a sudden check" as Rose is suddenly stricken with a mysterious illness, which prompts Mrs. Maylie to summon Harry Maylie, her son, and request a visit from the family physician, Dr. Losberne. Agreeing to mail the necessary letters at The George Inn, Oliver cuts across the fields, and, having executed his commission in the nearby village, runs into a peculiar gentleman "in a horrible passion", the incident occurring on the same page as the illustration. Receiving the optimistic diagnosis of Losberne that Rose will survive the illness, Oliver goes out to get some air, and is passed narrowly by a speeding post-chaise that contains — not Monks, the furious gentleman at the village — but the Maylies' butler, Giles, in a nightcap, and a young gentleman who proves to be Harry Maylie.

In Chapter 34, in which Dickens re-introduces the "gentleman" with the vicious streak, the illustrator does not realize the highly dramatic moment in which the stranger in the marketplace curses Oliver when the boy goes to the market-town to mail a letter to the Maylies' physician, Mr. Losberne, about Rose's deteriorating health. At The George Inn, where Oliver has just posted the letter, he encounters the peculiar stranger, who swears at him, then inexplicably falls to the ground in the throes of an epileptic seizure, "writhing and foaming". Although the illustration is not of Monks's carriage at all, but of Giles's post-chaise in the following chapter, its placement adjacent to the textual description of the peculiar encounter draws the reader's attention to the textual description of the stranger and signals his reappearance as important to the plot.

Whereas in the Mahoney sequence there is no jarring appearance of Monks at this point, in the Cruikshank sequence Fagin appears in the very garden outside Oliver's window, accompanied by the strange, malevolent gentleman, who closely observes the boy as he dozes over his books in Monks and the Jew (Part 15, June 1838), for Chapter 34. In the Mahoney idyll dominated by the Maylies, there is no snake to marr Oliver's Wordsworthian childhood experience, just a quiet scene of music played at twilight, and then of a solitary Oliver, watching the carriage speed by. Whereas Cruikshank and Eytinge have totally neglected the Maylie idyll, Harry Furniss balances the solicitous care of the wounded boy in the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition volume illustration for Chapter 30, The Wounded Oliver smiles in his sleep, with the menacing leering of Monks and Fagin watching Oliver sleep in Chapter 34.


message 16: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5700 comments Mod


"Master O-li-ver"

Chapter 34

Frederic W. Pailthorpe

1886

Text Illustrated:

It was almost too much happiness to bear. Oliver felt stunned and stupefied by the unexpected intelligence; he could not weep, or speak, or rest. He had scarcely the power of understanding anything that had passed, until, after a long ramble in the quiet evening air, a burst of tears came to his relief, and he seemed to awaken, all at once, to a full sense of the joyful change that had occurred, and the almost insupportable load of anguish which had been taken from his breast.

The night was fast closing in, when he returned homeward: laden with flowers which he had culled, with peculiar care, for the adornment of the sick chamber. As he walked briskly along the road, he heard behind him, the noise of some vehicle, approaching at a furious pace. Looking round, he saw that it was a post-chaise, driven at great speed; and as the horses were galloping, and the road was narrow, he stood leaning against a gate until it should have passed him.

As it dashed on, Oliver caught a glimpse of a man in a white nightcap, whose face seemed familiar to him, although his view was so brief that he could not identify the person. In another second or two, the nightcap was thrust out of the chaise-window, and a stentorian voice bellowed to the driver to stop: which he did, as soon as he could pull up his horses. Then, the nightcap once again appeared: and the same voice called Oliver by his name.

'Here!' cried the voice. 'Oliver, what's the news? Miss Rose! Master O-li-ver!'

'Is it you, Giles?' cried Oliver, running up to the chaise-door.

Giles popped out his nightcap again, preparatory to making some reply, when he was suddenly pulled back by a young gentleman who occupied the other corner of the chaise, and who eagerly demanded what was the news.

'In a word!' cried the gentleman, 'Better or worse?'

'Better—much better!' replied Oliver, hastily.

'Thank Heaven!' exclaimed the gentleman. 'You are sure?'

'Quite, sir,' replied Oliver. 'The change took place only a few hours ago; and Mr. Losberne says, that all danger is at an end.'

The gentleman said not another word, but, opening the chaise-door, leaped out, and taking Oliver hurriedly by the arm, led him aside.

'You are quite certain? There is no possibility of any mistake on your part, my boy, is there?' demanded the gentleman in a tremulous voice. 'Do not deceive me, by awakening hopes that are not to be fulfilled.'

'I would not for the world, sir,' replied Oliver. 'Indeed you may believe me. Mr. Losberne's words were, that she would live to bless us all for many years to come. I heard him say so.'



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Monks and Fagin watching Oliver sleep

Chapter 34

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

Oliver knew, perfectly well, that he was in his own little room; that his books were lying on the table before him; that the sweet air was stirring among the creeping plants outside. And yet he was asleep. Suddenly, the scene changed; the air became close and confined; and he thought, with a glow of terror, that he was in the Jew's house again. There sat the hideous old man, in his accustomed corner, pointing at him, and whispering to another man, with his face averted, who sat beside him.

"Hush, my dear!" he thought he heard the Jew say; "it is he, sure enough. Come away."

"He!" the other man seemed to answer; "could I mistake him, think you? If a crowd of ghosts were to put themselves into his exact shape, and he stood amongst them, there is something that would tell me how to point him out. If you buried him fifty feet deep, and took me across his grave, I fancy I should know, if there wasn't a mark above it, that he lay buried there?

The man seemed to say this, with such dreadful hatred, that Oliver awoke with the fear, and started up.

Good Heaven! what was that, which sent the blood tingling to his heart, and deprived him of his voice, and of power to move! There — there — at the window; close before him; so close, that he could have almost touched him before he started back: with his eyes peering into the room, and meeting his: there stood the Jew! And beside him, white with rage or fear, or both, were the scowling features of the man who had accosted him in the inn-yard.

It was but an instant, a glance, a flash, before his eyes; and they were gone. But they had recognised him, and he them; and their look was as firmly impressed upon his memory, as if it had been deeply carved in stone, and set before him from his birth. He stood transfixed for a moment; then, leaping from the window into the garden, called loudly for help.


Commentary:


Furniss's notion of having Fagin and his unlikely ally, Monks, watch the sleeping Oliver, who thinks himself worlds away from the East End gang, is directly derived from that of Dickens himself and George Cruikshank in the June 1838 illustration which announces the role of Monks in the plot. The arrival of the shadowy figure of "Monks," transforms the narrative from a Newgate Novel and a putative bildungsroman (although Oliver never achieves manhood in the pages of the novel). Clearly Furniss felt that he should replicate this plot development in the narrative-pictorial sequence by foregrounding Oliver and having Fagin seem to reach in through the open window, as if to wake the boy. The slender writing desk surmounted by books and an ink pot, the books on the shelves, and the leaded-pane garden windows, like Oliver's ornate chair and respectable clothing, all imply the affluent lifestyle of the upper-middle-class Maylies. Oliver's face is light, his hair blond, in contrast to the dark-faced, dark-haired Monks and Sikes, evil characters who threaten Oliver's future. John O. Jordan notes that, in contrast to white-skinned, blemishless, blond-haired Oliver, both Fagin and Monks are "marked" characters. Whereas Fagin is marked by his red hair, traditional Jewish features, and toasting fork as a Satanic avatar, the gloomy, epileptic Monks bears a the mark of Cain on his throat. Fagin

seeks to inscribe a narrative of crime on Oliver's blankness by telling him exciting stories about robbery and giving him the Newgate Calendar to read. In this way he hopes to "blacken" Oliver's soul — an echo of Dickens' blacking factory experience, perhaps. Oliver appears to be a tabula rasa unmarked by experience, and he is often described as having a face of perfect innocence.

The Maylies may dress, feed, and even educate the workhouse boy as if he were a middle-class child — inscribing, as it were, a middle-class identity upon the parish boy, but the gang may yet recapture the boy, destroying his new-found sense of security and dragging him back into their malignant designs.

Either the editor, J. A. Hammerton, or the artist has positioned the illustration for Chapter 34 just a few pages prior to the passage, so that the reader is left in doubt as to the outcome of their surveillance. That he is a victim caught unawares in some sort of snare carefully laid by Fagin and Monks is implied by the web-like design in Oliver's oversized chair. The sleeping boy, now absorbed into the Maylie household, is surrounded by tomes suggestive of middle-class education (not merely the open books over which Oliver dozes, but the books on the shelves just visible in the darkness behind him), but his unsavoury past has come back to haunt him. The nature of the plot against Oliver will become apparent in Chapter 37, whereas Furniss builds anticipation towards the return of Monks to the narrative-pictorial sequence, and next shows him at another highly dramatic moment, The Evidence Destroyed in Chapter 38. Mahoney's visualisation of Monks' clandestine meeting with Fagin at Saffron Hill past eleven o' clock at night accords well with the gothic figure's surreptitious nature, similarly presented in Mahoney's Household Edition frontispiece. In his signature top-hat and cloak, plotting behind the scenes, Monks is a villain straight out of the melodrama. From the outset in the third volume of the Household Edition, Monks is a significant figure in the plot — but then, Mahoney, like Harry Furniss, having read the entire book before receiving the Chapman and Hall commission in 1870, would have known the entire story, whereas Cruikshank knew only as much as he had read in the monthly instalments up to that point and as much as Dickens himself was prepared to reveal.

Whereas Mahoney in 1871, like Eytinge in 1867, was well aware of Monks's importance to the plot, Cruikshank had introduced Monks later, in company with Fagin at Oliver's window in the garden at Chertsey. The artist's identifying the villains with the green world may at first strike the reader as odd, but Oliver is in side, part of the constructed, civilised world, and both the gentleman plotter and the criminal fence are outside those bounds. Eytinge shows the melodramatic villain by himself, alienated, brooding, and malevolent. The cape in which the various illustrators clothe him is the outward and visible sign of his attempt to act in secret, so that he consorts with his criminal associates under an assumed identity, and often under the cover of night. His manner and speech, however, betray his true background. . The Victorian illustrators consistently depict the venomous older man as "a tall man wrapped in a cloak" (Ch. 34), "his face averted," his height consistently exaggerated by his respectable top-hat. Tellingly, in the text Fagin apparently fears even uttering his name.


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Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments That Cruikshank black and white illustration of Oliver slumbering in the chair makes him look like an abandoned puppet.


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Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Kim wrote: "You're awful. :-),..."

Yes, but in my defense, I've had to listen to some dreadfully sappy dialog AND narrative, and my ears hurt, and that's turned me into a curmudgeon. Is it safe to say this in not Dickens best book?


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A few - a very few - will suffice, Rose, said the young man, drawing his chair towards her.

Chapter 35

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

But, although this happy change had a visible effect on the little circle; and although cheerful voices and merry laughter were once more heard in the cottage; there was at times, an unwonted restraint upon some there: even upon Rose herself: which Oliver could not fail to remark. Mrs. Maylie and her son were often closeted together for a long time; and more than once Rose appeared with traces of tears upon her face. After Mr. Losberne had fixed a day for his departure to Chertsey, these symptoms increased; and it became evident that something was in progress which affected the peace of the young lady, and of somebody else besides.

At length, one morning, when Rose was alone in the breakfast-parlour, Harry Maylie entered; and, with some hesitation, begged permission to speak with her for a few moments.

"A few — a very few — will suffice, Rose," said the young man, drawing his chair towards her. "What I shall have to say, has already presented itself to your mind; the most cherished hopes of my heart are not unknown to you, though from my lips you have not heard them stated."

Rose had been very pale from the moment of his entrance; but that might have been the effect of her recent illness. She merely bowed; and bending over some plants that stood near, waited in silence for him to proceed.

"I — I — ought to have left here, before,"said Harry."

"You should, indeed," replied Rose." Forgive me for saying so, but I wish you had."


Commentary:

"A few — a very few — will suffice, Rose," said the young man, drawing his chair towards her. Chapter 35, “Containing the Unsatisfactory Result of Oliver's Adventure; and a Conversation of Some Importance between Harry Maylie and Rose.” James Mahoney's illustration fleshes our the "back story" of the adopted seventeen-year-old Rose and her relationship with her sibling, Harry, who is declaring his love for her, despite her dubious background. While the original narrative-pictorial sequence focuses at this point on the strange incident in Chapter 34, in which Fagin and Monks appeared at Oliver's window. Perhaps Mahoney, keenly aware that his predecessor had already treated the visit of Fagin and Monks to Oliver's home in the country, chose to focus instead upon Rose's becoming desperately ill, miraculously recovering, and then receiving Harry's proposal — which entails his renouncing a promising political career because of her shadowy past. Mahoney develops the problem-fraught romance of Rose and Harry Maylie as a significant subplot in the Household Edition. In the original narrative-pictorial serial sequence by George Cruikshank in Bentley's Miscellany, the periodical reader encountered instead a pictorial realisation of the terrifying moment which shatters Oliver's three-months' peace of mind Fagin and Monks in (Part 15, June 1838), for Chapter 34.

In Chapter 34, Dickens introduces the romance of Harry Maylie, an up-and-coming politician, and his adopted sister, Rose. Whereas George Cruikshank in his June 1838 illustration focusses on a figure from the main plot, Mahoney takes this opportunity to develop further the back-story of Rose Maylie that he had introduced in When it became quite dark, and they returned home, the young lady would sit down to the piano, and play some pleasant air. The proposal scene underscores Dickens's motif of self-sacrifice for love as Rose initially refuses Harry's proposal because, with "a stain upon [her] name", she fears that as Harry's wife she would be an impediment to his "high and noble pursuits" and that he will be able to score "triumphs" in public life only if she does not impair his "great talents" by marrying him. Presumably, his "powerful connexions" necessary to the advanced of his career would disown him were he to marry a girl with the shadow of impropriety of birth (i. e., illegitimacy) hanging over her.

Despite its understated realism, the wood-engraving is nonetheless reminiscent of the narrative painting of Augustus Leopold Egg, in particular Past and Present (I), The Infidelity Discovered(1858), with the poses of the middle-class gentleman and lady revealing an inner turmoil that belies the superficial tranquility and normalcy of the drawing-room, illuminated by natural light from the garden to the rear. In describing the outward and visible signs of the deteriorating relationship between the husband and wife, Egg the PreRaphaelite is far more self-consciously melodramatic and sensational than New Man of the Sixties, the realist Mahoney; however, like Egg's narrative painting, Mahoney's illustration invites the reader to interpret the characters' emotions, explore their motivations, and reconstruct their back-stories — all of which activities are facilitated by a close reading of the accompanying text, an adjunct that Egg's painting does not have.

There is nothing at first glance to suggest that Mahoney's is anything other than a conventional drawing-room scene with a young man dressed in the style of the Sixties (centre), casually supporting himself by placing one hand on the back of the easy chair — until one studies the pose of the young woman dressed in the fashion of the 1860s also. She turns away, hand to her chin in thought, rejecting reluctantly the marriage proposal that is almost an inevitability, given the proximity in which the two have grown up. The comfortable parlour, looking out on the very same garden in which Oliver has recently scene Fagin and Monks, a blight on his past and a menace to his future, is thus a scene of powerful internal conflict, as the slightly agitated curtain suggests. Brought up reading the same books and periodicals, casually jumbled together on the shelf, left), the couple are well-matched intellectually, just as their fashionable, upper-middle-class attire implies their compatibility in terms of social class. But something troubles the girl as she receives the longed-for proposal, and Mahoney compels the reader to study the letter-press to determine the cause of her unease since he does not reveal her expression.

Whereas Cruikshank and Eytinge have totally neglected the Rose and Harry Maylie romance, Harry Furniss in the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition volume provides a series of illustrations that focus on Rose, culminating in Chapter 51's illustration. Thus, over successive editions, Rose moves from a secondary position, featured prominently only in Cruikshank's The Meeting (Part Twenty, December 1838), to a leading figure in the back-story.


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Bumble triumphant

Chapter 37

Frederic W. Pailthorpe

1886

Text Illustrated:

'I am going to sit here, as long as I think proper, ma'am,' rejoined Mr. Bumble; 'and although I was not snoring, I shall snore, gape, sneeze, laugh, or cry, as the humour strikes me; such being my prerogative.'

'Your prerogative!' sneered Mrs. Bumble, with ineffable contempt.

'I said the word, ma'am,' said Mr. Bumble. 'The prerogative of a man is to command.'

'And what's the prerogative of a woman, in the name of Goodness?' cried the relict of Mr. Corney deceased.

'To obey, ma'am,' thundered Mr. Bumble. 'Your late unfortunate husband should have taught it you; and then, perhaps, he might have been alive now. I wish he was, poor man!'

Mrs. Bumble, seeing at a glance, that the decisive moment had now arrived, and that a blow struck for the mastership on one side or other, must necessarily be final and conclusive, no sooner heard this allusion to the dead and gone, than she dropped into a chair, and with a loud scream that Mr. Bumble was a hard-hearted brute, fell into a paroxysm of tears.

But, tears were not the things to find their way to Mr. Bumble's soul; his heart was waterproof. Like washable beaver hats that improve with rain, his nerves were rendered stouter and more vigorous, by showers of tears, which, being tokens of weakness, and so far tacit admissions of his own power, pleased and exalted him. He eyed his good lady with looks of great satisfaction, and begged, in an encouraging manner, that she should cry her hardest: the exercise being looked upon, by the faculty, as strongly conducive to health.

'It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper,' said Mr. Bumble. 'So cry away.'

As he discharged himself of this pleasantry, Mr. Bumble took his hat from a peg, and putting it on, rather rakishly, on one side, as a man might, who felt he had asserted his superiority in a becoming manner, thrust his hands into his pockets, and sauntered towards the door, with much ease and waggishness depicted in his whole appearance.



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Mr. Bumble degraded in the eyes of the Paupers

Chapter 37

George Cruikshank

Text Illustrated:

With these words, Mr. Bumble opened the door, and walked in with a very fierce and angry manner: which was at once exchanged for a most humiliated and cowering air, as his eyes unexpectedly rested on the form of his lady wife.

"My dear," said Mr. Bumble, "I didn't know you were here."

"Didn't know I was here!' repeated Mrs. Bumble. "What do you do here?"

"I thought they were talking rather too much to be doing their work properly, my dear," replied Mr. Bumble: glancing distractedly at a couple of old women at the wash-tub, who were comparing notes of admiration at the workhouse-master's humility.

"You thought they were talking too much?" said Mrs. Bumble. "What business is it of yours?"

"Why, my dear — " urged Mr. Bumble submissively.

"What business is it of yours?" demanded Mrs. Bumble, again.

"It's very true, you're matron here, my dear," submitted Mr. Bumble; "but I thought you mightn't be in the way just then."

"I'll tell you what, Mr. Bumble," returned his lady. "We don't want any of your interference. You're a great deal too fond of poking your nose into things that don't concern you, making everybody in the house laugh, the moment your back is turned, and making yourself look like a fool every hour in the day. Be off; come!"

Mr. Bumble, seeing with excruciating feelings, the delight of the two old paupers, who were tittering together most rapturously, hesitated for an instant. Mrs. Bumble, whose patience brooked no delay, caught up a bowl of soap-suds, and motioning him towards the door, ordered him instantly to depart, on pain of receiving the contents upon his portly person.

What could Mr. Bumble do? He looked dejectedly round, and slunk away; and, as he reached the door, the titterings of the paupers broke into a shrill chuckle of irrepressible delight. It wanted but this. He was degraded in their eyes; he had lost caste and station before the very paupers; he had fallen from all the height and pomp of beadleship, to the lowest depth of the most snubbed hen-peckery.


Commentary:

Eight weeks gone since he married the apparently pliable Mrs. Corney, Mr. Bumble in his new capacity as Master of the Workhouse begins to sees the abandonment of wives by their husbands in a different light. Refusing to submit to his authority, she resorts to tears — to no avail, for Bumble is proof against such histrionics. She then tries a tactic designed to humiliate her new husband.

The expectations of Bumble regarding the obedience of Mrs. Corney two months after their marriage are dashed by her face-saving ploy in front of her female charges at the workhouse, for such refuges for the destitute and unemployed practiced gender segregation, even to the point of dividing families. The incident is not a mere comeuppance for the haughty beadle in that it marks a shift in his erstwhile alliance with the matron of the workhouse. Retreating from the workhouse to the sanctuary of a nearby pub, Bumble encounters a well-dressed, enigmatic stranger who is looking for information about Oliver's mother. Thus, the tiff between husband and wife sets up the plot-oriented scene involving Monks and his "secret".

Sol Eytinge, Junior's dual character study Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney in the 1867 Diamond Edition of the novel focuses upon their earlier amity, when Mr. Bumble was courting the comfortably circumstanced widow — whereas in the present scene she has revealed her true mettle and will brook no domestic tyrant in her workplace, in which heretofore she has been reigning monarch.

In the Household Edition illustrator James Mahoney focuses not on the humourous scene involving the parish beadle's loss of face at the workhouse, but on his subsequent interview with Monks in "Were you looking for me," he said, "when you peered in at the window?", although even an astute reader might not connect the mysterious figure in the cloak and top-hat in the illustration for Chapter 26 ("Fagin!" whispered a voice close to his ear) back in Holborn with Bumble's curious interlocutor here. Again, as with the scene at the garden window in Chapter 34, perhaps Mahoney seems to have been reluctant to attempt a scene handled with such panache by Dickens's original illustrator.

In the 1838 steel engraving, Cruikshank places husband and wife in the centre, although Mrs. Bumble is already forcing her astounded husband towards the right margin, much to amusement of the gaunt laundresses (left). This is no longer the demure, tea-drinking matron of Cruikshank's earlier Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney taking tea, in which she was very much to the left of centre in a private setting; here, in a scene played out before her institutional charges, the matron seems to have grown in size and stature, having exchanged her diminutive teacup for a large saucepan. She fills the workplace scene, a vessel of war (with billowing sail) who commands rather than demures. Whereas the tea-drinking scene occurred in the confines of a parlour, Cruikshank presents no background details to establish the size or nature of the laundry room in the workhouse, so that the figures of the Bumbles stand out.

Harry Furniss's Mrs. Bumble turns Mr. Bumble out is based directly upon Cruikshank's highly theatrical comedic composition. Whereas Mahoney has deliberately selected scenes involving Mrs. Corney and Mr. Bumble that relate them only to the plot and do not indulge in his predecessor's penchant for visual satire and character comedy, Furniss pays homage to the original scene selected by Dickens and Cruikshank for the serial. Indeed, Furniss has borrowed the costumes, juxtapositions, poses, and expressions of Cruikshank's couple, but in a Baroque manner has altered the perspective so that the pauper women, the delighted audience of the momentary domestic comedy, are no longer stage right, but in fact are downstage, so that Furniss's viewer surveys the routing of beadle (no longer habited as such) from behind the angular, ill-fed women and their washtubs. As in the earlier illustration, clouds of steam (suggestive of Mrs. Bumble's ill-temper) envelop the upper register, but in Furniss's treatment Bumble is only partially visible as he is already abandoning the field of battle to the fairer sex, even as his wife pours the suds on him. Thus, Furniss's energetic realisation completes the action begun in Cruikshank's. Furniss expands the role of the female audience, foregrounding the observers and relegating the principals to the rear.




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Were you looking for me, he said, when you peered in at the window?

Chapter 37

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

A chastened but unbeaten Mr. Bumble walked up one street, and down another, until exercise had abated the first passion of his grief; and then the revulsion of feeling made him thirsty. He passed a great many public-houses; but, at length paused before one in a by-way, whose parlour, as he gathered from a hasty peep over the blinds, was deserted, save by one solitary customer. It began to rain, heavily, at the moment. This determined him. Mr. Bumble stepped in; and ordering something to drink, as he passed the bar, entered the apartment into which he had looked from the street.

The man who was seated there, was tall and dark, and wore a large cloak. He had the air of a stranger; and seemed, by a certain haggardness in his look, as well as by the dusty soils on his dress, to have travelled some distance. He eyed Bumble askance, as he entered, but scarcely deigned to nod his head in acknowledgment of his salutation.

Mr. Bumble had quite dignity enough for two; supposing even that the stranger had been more familiar: so he drank his gin-and-water in silence, and read the paper with great show of pomp and circumstance.

It so happened, however: as it will happen very often, when men fall into company under such circumstances: that Mr. Bumble felt, every now and then, a powerful inducement, which he could not resist, to steal a look at the stranger: and that whenever he did so, he withdrew his eyes, in some confusion, to find that the stranger was at that moment stealing a look at him. Mr. Bumble's awkwardness was enhanced by the very remarkable expression of the stranger's eye, which was keen and bright, but shadowed by a scowl of distrust and suspicion, unlike anything he had ever observed before, and repulsive to behold.

When they had encountered each other's glance several times in this way, the stranger,?in a harsh, deep voice, broke silence.

"Were you looking for me,"?he said, "when you peered in at the window?"

"Not that I am aware of, unless you're Mr. —" Here Mr. Bumble stopped short; for he was curious to know the stranger's name, and thought in his impatience, he might supply the blank.

"I see you were not," said the stranger; an expression of quiet sarcasm playing about his mouth; "or you have known my name. You don't know it. I would recommend you not to ask for it."


Commentary:


James Mahoney's illustration for Chapters 37-38 reinforcing the importance of the plot which he established through the frontispiece in the Household Edition volume, The Evidence Destroyed. The Cruikshank original of the Mahoney frontispiece, ironically, did not appear with the twentieth monthly number of Bentley's Miscellany, but rather was held over, according to The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, page 456, until the December number of the periodical. However, in the 1838 and 1846 volume editions of the novel, Cruikshank's The Evidence Destroyed did appear within Chapter 38.

Eight weeks having passed since he married the apparently pliable Mrs. Corney, Mr. Bumble in his new capacity as Master of the Workhouse begins to sees the abandonment of wives by their husbands in a different light. Refusing to submit to his authority, Mrs. Bumble resorts to tears — to no avail, for Bumble is proof against such histrionics. She then tries a tactic designed to humiliate her new husband in front of their charges. Her ridiculing her husband in front of the pauper-women formed a suitably humourous subject for caricaturist George Cruikshank, Dickens's original illustrator, whereas James Mahoney shows Bumble having retreated from the scene of his ridicule, the workhouse, in Mr. Bumble degraded in the eyes of the Paupers (Part 16, July 1838), to the sanctuary of a nearby public house, to read the newspaper and console himself with gin-and-water. Here, ruminating upon the humiliation he has just suffered, Bumble encounters a well-dressed, enigmatic stranger who is looking for information about Oliver's mother. Thus, the tiff between husband and wife sets up the plot-oriented scene involving Monks. However, whereas Cruikshank has his eye set upon the nemesis Dickens has meted upon the venial beadle, Mahoney has directed his attention and that of the reader towards the plot that Dickens has drafted onto the social satire of the workhouse system. The illustration flags the meeting of Bumble (right, looking over his newspaper, his gin-and-water on the table, but partially consumed, and his cane, sole remnant of his Beadle's uniform, beside him) and black-clad "gentlemanly" Monks, his cape and top-hat still on, as if he is eager to depart, and no beverage on the table before him. The illustrator has stationed him by the fireplace, where nobody can escape his notice undetected as he enters the establishment.

Having had years to ruminate over this text, James Mahoney, like the reader, must have wondered how Monks anticipated that Bumble would seek the shelter of this masculine "cave" after being driven out of the female-dominated space of the workhouse. At this point, Monks has yet to produce his nominal bribe of two sovereigns, and Bumble has not yet drained his glass (which Monks subsequently orders refilled for him). Monks's explanation that the two have been thrown together by mere serendipity does not seem entirely plausible as the diabolical interlocutor concedes, "I came down to this place, to-day, to find you out; and, by one of those one of those chances which the devil throws in the way of his friends sometimes, you walked into the very room I was sitting in, while you were uppermost in my mind". In fact, what better place to search for information about a local parochial figure than a nearby public-house?

In the Household Edition illustrator James Mahoney, eschewing farce in favour of the melodramatic plot, focuses not on the farcical scene involving the parish beadle's loss of face at the workhouse, but on his subsequent interview with Monks in "Were you looking for me," he said, "when you peered in at the window?", although even an astute reader might not connect the mysterious figure in the cloak and top-hat in the bar with a commanding gentleman in the cape with the Bumbles in the frontispiece The Evidence Destroyed. Not surprisingly, with a greater number of illustrations to complete, Harry Furniss, having studied both Cruikshank's and Mahoney's plates, elected to attempt both satirical and melodramatic strains of these chapters, showing as a full-page illustration the theme he presented in thumbnail in The Characters in the Story, namely the thumbnail version of The Evidence Destroyed.


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Mrs. Bumble turns Mr. Bumble out

Chapter 37

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

"Hem!" said Mr. Bumble, summoning up all his native dignity. "These women at least shall continue to respect the prerogative. Hallo! hallo there! What do you mean by this noise, you hussies?"

With these words, Mr. Bumble opened the door, and walked in with a very fierce and angry manner: which was at once exchanged for a most humiliated and cowering air, as his eyes unexpectedly rested on the form of his lady wife.

"My dear," said Mr. Bumble, "I didn’t know you were here."

"Didn't know I was here!" repeated Mrs. Bumble. "What do you do here?"

"I thought they were talking rather too much to be doing their work properly, my dear," replied Mr. Bumble: glancing distractedly at a couple of old women at the wash-tub, who were comparing notes of admiration at the workhouse-master's humility.

"You thought — they were talking too much?" said Mrs. Bumble. "What business is it of yours?"

"Why, my dear —" urged Mr. Bumble submissively.

"What business is it of yours?" demanded Mrs. Bumble, again.

"It's very true, you're matron here, my dear," submitted Mr. Bumble; "but I thought you mightn't be in the way just then."

"I’ll tell you what, Mr. Bumble," returned his lady. "We don't want any of your interference. You're a great deal too fond of poking your nose into things that don't concern you, making everybody in the house laugh, the moment your back is turned, and making yourself look like a fool every hour in the day.

"Be off; come!"

Mr. Bumble, seeing with excruciating feelings, the delight of the two old paupers, who were tittering together most rapturously, hesitated for an instant. Mrs. Bumble, whose patience brooked no delay, caught up a bowl of soap-suds, and motioning him towardsthe door, ordered him instantly to depart, on pain of receiving the contents upon his portly person.

What could Mr. Bumble do? He looked dejectedly round, and slunk away; and, as he reached the door, the titterings of the paupers broke into a shrill chuckle of irrepressible delight. It wanted but this. He was degraded in their eyes; he had lost caste and station before the very paupers; he had fallen from all the height and pomp of beadleship, to the lowest depth of the most snubbed hen-peckery.


Commentary:

Furniss has based his illustration upon a steel engraving by Dickens's original illustrator, George Cruikshank, that appeared in the July 1838 Bentley's Miscellany — Mr. Bumble degraded in the eyes of the Paupers. Two months after their marriage, Bumble is chagrined to discover that the former Mrs. Corney is not prepared to follow meekly his commands, and that he is a husband with no authority over his wife. The scene of the contretemps is the feminine sphere of her workplace, the laundry-room of the parish workhouse, and the amused audience is the pauper women who are the Matron, Mrs. Corney's subordinates. Stripped of his parochial authority and now plain "Mr." Bumble, he finds himself neither, loved, honoured, or obeyed by his wife, who has suddenly become self-assertive and even obstinate. Dickens regards the temporary romance of workhouse matron Mrs. Corney and parish beadle Mr. Bumble not merely as ridiculous, but as setting the stage for their nemesis. Thus, the scene of Bumble's inevitable humiliation in Furniss is doubly amusing as it occurs before an audience of workhouse crones, from whose perspective the reader views Bumble's hasty retreat as Mrs. Bumble douses him.

It is informative to consider the adjustments that Furniss has made to Cruikshank's Mr. Bumble degraded in the eyes of the Paupers. Furniss's choosing to revise the Cruikshank orginal was indeed daring as the 1838 would seem to be a triumph of the earlier artist's visual satire. The five cartoon-like washerwomen of the original become three disembodied heads in the diaphonous backdrop and two emaciated but fully shown spectators whose perception of their social "superiors" is, implies Furniss, normative.

In the 1838 steel engraving, Cruikshank makes husband and wife in the centre the largest figures and the twin focal points of the comic scene: already Mrs. Bumble is forcing her astonished husband towards the right margin (in which Furniss locates a door), much to amusement of the gaunt laundresses (left). This is no longer the demure, tea-drinking matron of Cruikshank's earlier Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney taking tea, in which she was very much to the left of centre in a private setting while her suitor dominated the composition, leaning in rather than, as in this later illustration, turning away; here, in a scene played out before her institutional charges, the matron seems to have grown in size and stature, having exchanged her diminutive teacup for a large saucepan. In her workplace identity, she is no longer a prim Victorian widow; rather, in her office she fills the scene, becoming a vessel of war (with billowing sail) or figurehead who commands rather than demures — a veritable virago. Whereas the tea-drinking scene occurs in the confines of a domestic space defined by the furnishing and bric-a-brac typical of a nineteenth-century parlour, Cruikshank and Furniss present no background details to establish the size or nature of the laundry room in the workhouse, so that the figures of the Bumbles stand out against the vapour and suds which obscure the upper register of both the 1838 and 1910 illustrations.

The expectations of the formerly haughty Bumble regarding the obedience of his wife, the former Mrs. Corney, two months after their marriage are dashed by her face-saving ploy in front of her female charges at the workhouse, for such refuges for the destitute, infirm, and unemployed practiced gender segregation, even to the point of dividing families. (Although the underlying intention of workhouse guardians was simply to prevent procreation among the poor, the vast majority of inmates were elderly and infirm.) The incident is not a mere comeuppance for the beadle in that it marks a shift in his erstwhile alliance with the matron of the workhouse. Retreating from his wife's sphere of influence, which the presence of numerous laundry women defines as an Amazonian space, to the masculine sanctuary of a nearby public house, Bumble is approached by a well-dressed, enigmatic stranger who is looking for information about Oliver's mother.

Furniss in The Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910) revisits the comedic scene so deftly handled by Cruikshank, undoubtedly enjoying the opportunity to show the exploiters falling out. In the Furniss treatment, the retreating Bumble is derived from Cruikshank's highly theatrical composition. Whereas James Mahoney in the Household Edition has deliberately selected for illustration scenes involving Mrs. Corney and Mr. Bumble that relate them only to the plot and do not indulge in his predecessor's penchant for visual satire and character comedy, Harry Furniss again pays homage to the original scene selected by Dickens and Cruikshank for the serial. Indeed, Furniss has borrowed the costumes, juxtapositions, properties, poses, and expressions of Cruikshank's couple, but in a Baroque manner has altered the perspective so that the pauper women, the delighted audience of the momentary domestic comedy, are no longer stage right, but in fact are downstage, so that Furniss's viewer surveys the routing of former beadle (no longer habited as such) from behind the angular, ill-fed women and their washtubs. As in the earlier illustration, clouds of steam (suggestive of Mrs. Bumble's frothing ill-temper) envelop the upper register, but in Furniss's treatment Bumble is only partially visible as he is already abandoning the field of battle to the fairer sex, even as his wife pours the suds on him. He begins by criticizing female unruliness, buts ends engulfed in soap suds, symbol of domestic labour. Thus, Furniss's energetic realisation completes the action begun in Cruikshank's. Furniss expands the role of the female audience, foregrounding the normative observers and relegating the battling principals to the rear of the arena of conflict, the wash-house.


message 25: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Kim wrote: "You're awful. :-),..."

Yes, but in my defense, I've had to listen to some dreadfully sappy dialog AND narrative, and my ears hurt, and that's turned me into a curmudgeon. Is it safe to..."


Curmudgeon? Oh no, another person who uses words I've never actually heard used before. By anyone who isn't a teacher that is. I much prefer the word Scrooge or Grinch. :-)


message 26: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Curmudgeon is a fine word having the advantage of sounding like what it means. But so does Grinch, so I'll accept Grinch for OT only. Although I'm not Grinchy enough to attempt to steal Christmas.


message 27: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1140 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "Mrs Maylie plans to send a note to Mr Losberne and dispatches Oliver to perform the task...."

Am I the only one whose stomach knots up when Oliver is sent on an errand?"


Definitely not the only one.


message 28: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1140 comments Peter wrote: "Tristram Chapter 35

Perhaps Harry will join Fagin’s crew to lower his good name and prospects for Rose. OK, perhaps that would be too much to ask, but I do wonder ......"

Mary Lou wrote, "If we hadn't been assured that Oliver's mother died, I'd assume they were one and the same, and that her last name was Brownlow…"


These are my two new favorite plot suggestions.

Peter wrote: "Rose gets worse and Oliver learns that Rose 'had fallen into a deep sleep, from which she would waken, either to full recovery and life, or bid them farewell, and die.'" because there is nothing like a melodramatic extreme, is there?

This installment is moving me over into the grinch-grump-curmudgeon camp, so quick--here's a sentence I lingered over, satisfied:
"It was the prime and vigour of the year, and all things were glad and flourishing."

Short, and grand, and sweet.


message 29: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments What, we missed the wedding? Just think what Dickens would have done with the toast to the couple. But perhaps such things weren't done back then.

And Mr. Bumble, who I am distressed to say we can no longer call "Bumble the Beadle," has sold himself for 20 pounds. "Cheap," he says. "Too much," I say.

His wife, Mrs. Corney, agrees with me. Of course, she’d only go for a couple of pounds herself.

It appears the honeymoon is over, and Bumble and his young bride, after being married for an eternity of two months, are locked in mortal matrimonial combat. Personally I think Bumble has bit off more than he can chew, so to speak. He best learn how to duck. I have a feeling the Mrs can throw an iron-packed right hook. Alas, Bumble was always meant to be a Beadle.

On the other hand,

First impressions may lead one to believe Mr. Bumble is a buffoon, full of himself, a man with a sense of accomplishment and sophistication not earned and nowhere present. But Bumble is not a buffoon. He is crafty, if not downright cunning. Bumble, Bumble, Bumble, the church official. Has he ever been to church?

Ah, but here is Dickens at his best, comparing Bumble's tear-impervious heart to ... washable beaver hats that improve with rain,

Wonderful.

And then speaking to Bumble’s cowardice . . .

This is by no means a disparagement to his character; for many official personages, who are held in high respect and admiration, are the victims of similar infirmities.

That’s the Dickens I know.


message 30: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "what possible reason would Dickens have for writing this chapter of impending death when the person not only does not die but apparently has a rather miraculous recovery? "

I think i..."


Hi Mary Lou

Oliver is an interesting character creation. You rightfully identify places where he is brave, bold, aggressive and proud. I quite like his flashes of having a spine.

It’s interesting how his rather milky other self takes over his personality. His gathering of flowers, bird seed, listening to music and other actions at Mrs Maylie’s seem to overwhelm his grittier self. And yes, don’t let Oliver go anywhere alone.

I wonder which version of Oliver will appear in the later chapters of OT?


message 31: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "I suspect Rose turned ill so Mrs. Maylie would send Oliver on that errand to town and he'd bump into the cloaked man. A little extravagant? Possibly a bit redundant? What, no bookstall? Yes, but li..."

Hi Xan

I agree with you that there is a certain feel to this book which places it as an early Dickens novel. Is it the too great mountains and valleys of character type and description? Is it the too obvious set pieces of action, the too obvious hints as to character, action and complication? Many times, however, just as I think I can capture a proof of a young writer, I think of one of Dickens’s last novels that somewhat mirror in style or presentation that of OT.

Perhaps that is why I am finding Nancy so very interesting in this novel. She seems to be an outlier of female creation and psychology within his female characters. Perhaps Edith Dombey or Lady Deadlock match Nancy, but not many others that I can recall.


message 32: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Peter wrote: "Tristram Chapter 35

Perhaps Harry will join Fagin’s crew to lower his good name and prospects for Rose. OK, perhaps that would be too much to ask, but I do wonder ......"

Mary Lou w..."


Hi Julie

Dickens does enjoy providing some great melodrama in OT, doesn’t he?

I wonder to what extent his own love of the theatre and melodrama found its way almost unfiltered into the novel?


message 33: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "A few - a very few - will suffice, Rose, said the young man, drawing his chair towards her.

Chapter 35

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

But, although this happy change ha..."


Kim: what a great variety of illustrations you provided this week. As always, thank you.

Well, the illustrations this week are a delight. I feel like the Harry-Rose depictions and the Bumble trouble ones could be used as examples in an engagement and marriage manual. If one picture is worth a thousand words then we have an entire book that could be titled “The Marvels and Mashups of Engagement and Marriage.”

And Oliver. Oh my. He is quite the fashion star now. Dickens describes him as being innocent and somewhat angelic and our illustrators do not disappoint. His rather angelic appearance does contrast very well with Fagin and Monks.

The early readership must have been fascinated with the depictions of the characters and settings thatappear in the illustrations.


message 34: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Peter wrote: "Is it the too great mountains and valleys of character type and description? Is it the too obvious set pieces of action, the too obvious hints as to character, action and complication? ..."

Yes. And the narrator is different. The later Dickens' narrator is more in command of his voice, more irreverent with his physical descriptions of characters, more satirical. You see flashes of it here, but only flashes.


message 35: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments I think Dickens is making a link between deathly illness and "visions" of the spirit realm. The characters talked about Rose being stuck between death and life and her soul being so good that it naturally gravitates to heaven.

This reminded me of Oliver's deathly illness at Brownlow's house. He had visions of light, and the house seemed like heaven itself. When he and Losberne went back to the house, the people were gone, as if it was just a dream.

After Rose's illness, Oliver had a vision of Fagin and Monks at the window. The narrator said that Oliver was between worlds: sleep and wake. They looked everywhere for Fagin, but there were no footprints, no trampled grass, no witnesses in town.

If Oliver and Rose are related, maybe this tendency to "drift to heaven" runs in the family.


message 36: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments There's something strange about Rose. Her tears fell into the "cup" of a flower. Could this be chalice imagery? Someone here mentioned her tears being a baptism. I also thought of dew, since she's a Rose.


message 37: by Peter (last edited Jul 26, 2018 03:44PM) (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Alissa wrote: "There's something strange about Rose. Her tears fell into the "cup" of a flower. Could this be chalice imagery? Someone here mentioned her tears being a baptism. I also thought of dew, since she's ..."

Hi Alissa

Rose is certainly presented as being a uniquely good individual. Dickens clearly creates her as an angelic-like character in more than one place.

Her blooming health, followed by a strange and serious illness, and then her recovery is central to our story. Such a pattern is seen with Christ as well, but candidly I don’t know how much that episode can be aligned.

I have always looked upon Rose as being linked to Dickens through the loss of his sister-in-law Mary. Dickens was very close to her in life, and in her death Dickens was devistated. After Mary’s death Dickens took a ring from her finger and wore it on his own finger for the rest of his life. At one point he even wanted to be buried beside her.

Rose and Mary could well be linked in Dickens’s mind.


message 38: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1140 comments Peter wrote: "Alissa wrote: "There's something strange about Rose. Her tears fell into the "cup" of a flower. Could this be chalice imagery? Someone here mentioned her tears being a baptism. I also thought of de..."

I'd have a lot of trouble dealing with a husband who wanted to be buried next to my sister.

Then again, that was probably the least of Catherine's worries.


message 39: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Peter wrote: "Alissa wrote: "There's something strange about Rose. Her tears fell into the "cup" of a flower. Could this be chalice imagery? Someone here mentioned her tears being a baptism. I also..."

So true.


message 40: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments I do think Dickens had Mary in mind when writing Rose. I find it strange how attached he was to Mary. The Tomalin biography I read recently mentioned the burial thing. Eventually, someone else was buried by Mary (Catherine's brother, I think), and Dickens was so devastated, he said it was like losing her all over again.


message 41: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Peter wrote: "Well, I can’t help saying that Bumble has been humbled. How surprised were you by this turn of events? What could Dickens possibly have in mind by this drastic turn of events?"

I was very surprised how fast Bumble's marriage fell apart. I thought they'd at least have a few good weeks together. Did he actually marry her for the silverware and furniture? That was probably his biggest "bumble" to date. I have to admit, I totally missed that detail. I assumed he was well off already and counting her stuff to pass the time, not because he thought it was valuable.

I was also surprised by Mrs. Corney's violence, but now, it makes sense why she was so short-tempered with the poor and elderly in earlier chapters. She's a very angry lady.

She held Mr. Bumble by the throat, punched him multiple times, and scratched his face, the same thing Charlotte did to Oliver before he ran away to London. That scene shocked me too, when I read it. I wonder why Dickens keeps connecting the Sowerberry's with Bumble. I also thought Dickens was good at writing characters who get out of control with their emotions.


message 42: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2308 comments Peter wrote: "Perhaps that is why I am finding Nancy so very interesting in this novel. She seems to be an outlier of female creation and psychology within his female characters. Perhaps Edith Dombey or Lady Deadlock match Nancy, but not many others that I can recall..."

I think this is one - but only one! :-) - of the reasons Dickens' Mary-based characters make me so crazy. Nancy, Lady Deadlock, and others show that he can write really interesting, 3-dimensional female characters, so the Marys are nearly nauseating in comparison. Two of my favorite "anti-Marys" are from Little Dorrit - Mrs. Clennam and Miss Wade. I find both of them fascinating.


message 43: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Alissa wrote: "Peter wrote: "Well, I can’t help saying that Bumble has been humbled. How surprised were you by this turn of events? What could Dickens possibly have in mind by this drastic turn of events?"

I was..."


Hi Alissa

I too read the Tomalin biography and found it fascinating and insightful. The more I learn about Dickens as a person the more I see parts of his life pop up in his novels.

Do you have a similar experience?


message 44: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3032 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "Perhaps that is why I am finding Nancy so very interesting in this novel. She seems to be an outlier of female creation and psychology within his female characters. Perhaps Edith Domb..."

Hi Mary Lou

Yes, of course! I love your phrase “anti-Mary’s” and fully agree that Mrs. Clennam and Miss Wade should be added to the list.

And now my brain starts to work again. While presented in a different manner, do you think Miss Havisham could be considered an outlier as well?


message 45: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Wiki says Mary died while OT was in serial production. And I'm thinking that Rose's illness and then recovery might have been like a defiant primal scream in the face of fate by Dickens.


message 46: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1140 comments Peter wrote: "Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "Perhaps that is why I am finding Nancy so very interesting in this novel. She seems to be an outlier of female creation and psychology within his female characters. P..."

I would say Miss Havisham is very anti-Mary, but in a supporting-character archetype way. She fascinates but she doesn't feel like a real person the way Nancy does.

I guess technically Nancy is a supporting character too, but she feels like she could have her own book. I can't really see a Miss Havisham book unless it was a prequel.


message 47: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1140 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "Perhaps that is why I am finding Nancy so very interesting in this novel. She seems to be an outlier of female creation and psychology within his female characters. Perhaps Edith Domb..."

And this makes me look forward to Little Dorrit, which I haven't read.


message 48: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2308 comments Julie wrote: "this makes me look forward to Little Dorrit, which I haven't read...."

It's in my top 5 Dickens list, Julie. A Christmas Carol and Bleak House are my favorites. Little Dorrit and Our Mutual Friend vie for third, depending on my mood. The fifth spot probably goes to Dombey and Son but that might change when we return to David Copperfield, which I read too long ago to remember well.


message 49: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Peter wrote: "I too read the Tomalin biography and found it fascinating and insightful. The more I learn about Dickens as a person the more I see parts of his life pop up in his novels.

Do you have a similar experience? "


I haven't read many of Dickens's novels yet, so it's too soon to tell. I do believe that authors reveal themselves in their writing. They draw on their knowledge, interests, and experience.

In OT, some of the scenes have a theatrical flair to me, like the Rose and Harry dialogue. I get the impression that Dickens's love of theatre comes through. And Shakespeare too, as Xan pointed out.

I also read that Dickens would laugh and cry while writing. This is something I sense in his words, the emotions he poured in, like sadness, anger, sarcasm, and a dreamy kind of hope, which I find interesting. I wish I could have seen one of his performances.


message 50: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2308 comments Julie wrote: "I guess technically Nancy is a supporting character too, but she feels like she could have her own book. I can't really see a Miss Havisham book unless it was a prequel...."

In the TV show "Dickensian" they fleshed out Miss Havisham's back story a bit. I quite enjoyed it.


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