A study of the physically abnormal characters in the novels of Charles Dickens

White, Noel Peter (1975) A study of the physically abnormal characters in the novels of Charles Dickens. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The majority of Charles Dickens's physically abnormal characters are neither grotesque nor frightening. After Bleak House their numbers swiftly decline as Dickens concentrates upon the social problems of his time. -- In the novels of Dickens's early literary period there is the repeated occurrence of deformities of the lower limbs. Male characters, and infrequently female characters, with such debilities are often unsuccessful in love affairs. When describing the sexual misadventures of these characters Dickens makes frequent use of a particular sexual symbol. This symbol of the lock and the key, representing the male and female sexual organs, has its roots in traditional literature. -- Added to the list of physically abnormal characters who are afflicted with deformities of the lower limbs are those who have wooden legs. It appears that for Dickens the wooden leg symbolizes castration. -- The final chapter of this thesis is devoted to explaining and examining the associations between physically abnormal servants and their masters. The degree of debility in the servant will be shown to mirror the moral decrepitude of the respective master. A short discussion of the German 'doppel-ganger' and its possible influence upon Dickens's descriptions of servants and masters will also be given in this chapter. -- In the Conclusion a brief examination is devoted to Dickens's illustrations of legal blindness. In Bleak House the blindness is metaphorical rather than actual. Chancery is constantly covered with fog. Nothing can penetrate it. Krook, who is linked to Chancery, cannot read; Chancery cannot 'see' the truth.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6984
Item ID: 6984
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [127]-132.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1975
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870--Characters; Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870--Criticism and interpretation

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