Re: Dombey and Son... spoilers
I've actually been done for a few days, but I didn't post anything because I wasn't sure what else to say. I have to say that I genuinely enjoyed the character of Edith. Dickens definitely surprised me there. She seemed perfectly set up to be a stock "wicked stepmother," but he went an entirely different direction. Bagstock also struck me as a successful character. It seem to me that many years ago I used to quote, "Tough, sir, tough, and devilish sly" without the slightest idea where it came from. Miss Tox is a successful portrait of a standard Dickensian type. Although much more sane, she reminds me of Miss Flite in Bleak House, as well as several others. There is much to admire in this novel, but it seems that the narrative flags after little Paul's death. Dickens is, in my opinion, unsuccessful in shifting our attention and affections to the rather colorless Florence. The novel loses its narrative drive. Although Dickens is usually verbose by modern standards, this is the only novel of his that I would have liked to see given a firm editor's hand.
A couple of questions. I am vague on the connection between Alice and Carker. I mean, I know that he "ruined" her, by Victorian standards, but what was her crime for which she was transported? Did Carker have anything to do with it? Somehow I missed that. I also was a vague on what John Carker's crime was. He's still employed, so it must not have been that bad, but what did he do? Why did Harriet sympathize with him? I get that Carker the Manager hated his brother for Harriet choosing John over James, but I don't feel like I understand that whole subplot. (And doesn't it seem creepily incestuous for him to be so jealous about their sister?) And finally, does Edith go to Carker only to revenge herself on Dombey? Or rather, does this seem to her to be a way to humiliate both Dombey and Carker, as well as expressing her self-hatred?
Dickens probably provided the answers to these questions, but through the long passages of empty moralizing and such, perhaps I nodded.
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