The Gospel in Dickens
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June 27, 2010


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Fatherhood in Dickens is indeed a very fascinating and sad subject. There's Little Dorrit and her father, constantly breaking her heart and being absolutely pathetic--I want to slap him. There's Florence Dombey and her horribly neglectful father. In fact there's a whole series of virtuous young women looking after weak fathers or being preyed upon in some way by rather nasty fathers: Agnes Wickfield and her father; Caddy Jellyby and her father (and Prince Turveydrop and his father, though Prince is not a girl, of course); Jenny Wren and her father; Little Nell and her grandfather; Lizzie and her father, Madeline Bray and her father...

And there's the well-intentioned, kind father whose actions are not healthy for his children, like Bella Wilfer's Cherub, Mr Micawber, Eugene Wrayburn's father, Mr Crummbles, Mr Squeers (I count him here because he acts with his own brand of kindness to his own children), Mr Pecksniff (same reasoning as Mr Squeers), Mr Casby (ibid)...

But there's also a series of kind, wonderful foster-fathers/mentors: Mr Jarndyce, Mr Brownlow, Captain Cutter, Mr Riah, Mr Boffin, the Cheerybles and Newman Noggs, old Martin Chuzzlewit (once he comes to his senses)... Interesting that they all appear to be foster-fathers and not real fathers...

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