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October 07, 2010

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Hmm, interesting question. I think that, though Dickens didn't put outright ghosts into his stories, he wanted to be more serious by making real people so terrible. Like think about Uriah Heep - David alternately calls him a demon and an evil spirit, and one interpretation of the "sleepover" scene is that David views him as a vampire. I think he wanted to point out the freakishness of "our own kind." Just my two cents.

I would say the closest Dickens came to including a ghost story as a major element in one of his novels is the annual retelling of the story of Reuben Haredale's murder in Barnaby Rudge. The spooky way something always happens on March 19 to bring the conversation around to that topic, the ritualistic way that Solomon Daisy is always the story teller, and the general belief that the murderer will be discovered on a future anniversary are all typical of a good ghost story. I suppose the regulars at the Maypole felt that the ghost of Reuben Haredale was haunting them every year on the anniversary of his murder.

I agree with Nina that Dickens generally left the supernatural out of his major works in order to be taken more seriously as a writer.

^ ^
Another similar thing is "The Ghost Walk" in Bleak House. Even though it's a short instance it factors largely into the conclusion of Lady Dedlock's arc.

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WELCOME

  • A blog for all things Dickens -- quotes, reflections, adaptations, references and tributes from other authors, and more.

Happy 200th, Mr. Dickens!

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