Money and character in the novels of Charles Dickens
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This thesis discusses the relationship between money and character in the novels of Charles Dickens, concentrating mainly on the later novels, from Dombey & Son onwards. Money is extremely important in Dickens's social criticism, and he is always conscious of money-related motives in his conception of character. However, despite its importance and omnipresence, money ought not to be elevated into the key explanatory principle in Dickens's thought. Dickens has been valued for different qualities over the years. Many who value him as an entertainer with a powerful poetic imagination tend to undervalue his social criticism and moralising, and to treat those aspects as non-essential or as belonging to a different side of his life and work. On the other hand those who value him as social and moral critic have combined this with exaggerated claims of thematic coherence. This thesis suggests that we can dispense with such claims while still regarding Dickens's novels as serious contributions to the moral and social debates of his day. A close consideration will be given to most of the later novels, with the intention of placing the money themes alongside other themes, so as to emphasise the many-sidedness of Dickens's social and moral criticism. Other themes explored in the thesis include marriage and the home, and hypocrisy and self-deception. The thesis seeks to do justice to Dickens's thorough-going ambivalence towards money, and to his capacity for revisiting characters and themes from one work to another. The bias of the thesis is towards the personal and individual, but money is inevitably a social topic. Much consideration is therefore given to Dickens's fictional and non- fictional responses to contemporary social problems and attitudes, and also to material not written by Dickens but published by him in Household Words and All the Year Round.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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