Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Women characters in Dickens's novels


Dickens is known by his delicate attitude to women; I mean his novels of course. Following women characters we see that, as a rule, women in Charles Dickens’s books are the embodiments of the highest ideals – a dear young lady, or a kind old lady. If you come across, say, members of thieves’ gang, such as Nancy in “Oliver Twist”, then you notice that even they aspire to kindness, they repent of their behavior, they die in an effort to get closer to the circle of respectable women. 

All sins in the novels of Dickens (stealing, drinking, cheating, selfishness) are expressed through men: Fagin (fence),  and, to say the least, not a kind Mr Dombey, and a whole string of selfish parish beadles, dishonest judges, indifferent jailers. Men in the works of Charles Dickens are bearers of rationality emasculated to complete callousness; they are not up to sentiments. Rare samples of Mr Pickwick type are rejected by the society, they are seen as cranks, and nobody chooses them as a role model.

A man must be cautious, not to let the emotions take his heart, be occupied by business rather than by emotions – that is the image of men in the works of Dickens. Among them, of course, sometimes a good old squire or a bookshop owner flashes through, but for the most part these are men with strong jaws, energetic, pursuing careers or supporting businesses, rearing sons to help themselves, as for the daughters…


Of course, we all know that the manners in the age of Dickens were severe enough; there was a period of "wild capitalism" (not sure the period is ended though:). But, logically, the wives of such tough guys should be careerists, clever and quirky ladies, making their little feminine careers to help their husbands to gain a foothold in the society (compare with "Vanity Fair" by Thackeray!).  However, women in Dickens’s novels are not like that. Yes, sometimes a nasty old woman, who fleeces dying women or matrons of workhouses sleep through; however a good-hearted writer, as a rule, pays his due to them at the end of the book, so vice is always punished. Kind old ladies, lovely compassionate girls, daughters that can forgive even rough fathers, appear on the pages of almost all Dickens’s novels.

What is the explanation? Is it his unfulfilled dream of happiness? After all, Dickens himself was not very successful in private life. Or is it the fact that his family went bankrupt, and he spent several years in poverty, working in a wax factory? May be he just wanted to be caressed, and pitied by somebody at difficult times? It is hard to say for sure, but it is undeniable that women in his novels are filled with a special charm.

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