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|Title:||Charles Dickens and the Victorian Middle-Class Family|
|Issue Date:||2014-08-04 14:05:10 (UTC+8)|
|Abstract:||Long glorified as a writer of home life, Dickens devotes his energy and talent to scrutinizing the middle-class family structure in his novels. His portrayals of middle-class households are full of perplexing contradictions. Adopting a social and historical approach, this study examines how Dickens works the complexity of Victorian middle-class family structure into his novels.
The first part of this study discusses numerous Victorian concerns involving the family by examining modern social and historical studies and various nineteenth-century essays published in major Victorian journals. Among these concerns are marriage, the household structure, the meaning of love, the roles of women, children, and siblings. By broadly applying Raymond Williams's analytic model of cultural process (the dominant, the residual, the emergent), this analysis presents a multiple picture of the Victorian middle-class family.
The second part of the dissertation discusses how dominant, residual, and emergent elements are projected into four of Dickens's works, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, and Hard Times. In chapter three, Dickens's contradictions in portraying domestic scenes are analyzed by examining his description of the fall of the paterfamilias in Dombey and Son. Dealing with David Copperfield, the fourth chapter discusses David's dilemma in his quest for an ideal home. The rise of the materfamilias in Bleak House, examined in chapter five, intensifies Dickens's recognition of a dominant femininity in the Victorian domestic world. In its analysis of chaotic domestic scenes in Hard Times, chapter six deals with Dickens's dilemma between idealizing domestic life and exposing conflicts within the middle-class household.
Rather than operating only within the context of the Victorian idealization of the family, these four novels address the variations and contradictions of the Victorian family subculture. It is these contradictions, and interplay of the dominant, the residual, and the emergent in Williams's terms, that enrich Dickens's novels.
|Relation:||Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Florida State University, 1991.|
|Appears in Collections:||[Department of English] Books & Chapters in Books|
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