Monday, April 12, 2010

Little Dorrit

Anne took me to the Orthotic Clinic this morning to see if anything can be done to assist the right foot drop. They have given me a simple device – a strp around my ankle and a loop to two hooks in my shoes. It has made walking feel more safe. I noticed on the drive there that the deciduous trees in the Gardens are beginning to get their autumn colours.

Over the weekend we began watching the BBC production of Little Dorrit on DVD. Apparently there are 14 episodes. Dickens lends himself to the moving image. So many of his characters are caricatures. Rags to riches and back again –a very Dickensian plot.

19th century London is always a rich backdrop to period drama. As Anne said yesterday as we discussed the series ‘we are 20th century inhabitants.' Last century to us is the 19th. But increasingly it is not a large part of the mental mindscape of our society. Dickens is going to become increasingly remote.

The novels of Dickens like those of Hardy blacken as the authors got older. Under The Greenwood Tree and Pickwick Papers are basically sunshine and light-hearted fun though there are hints of decay and disorder. By the time of Jude, Hardy was very bleak. By the time of Little Dorrit, Dickens was too. In both novels the characters are greater than their circumstances. I studied the novel in Stage I English years ago at Canterbury University.

What a cruel system! Debtor’s prison – in which some poor wretch languishes because they owe money. Unable to work they remain there until the debt is paid. Unless charity, an inheritance or the intervention of a rich relation happens along there is little chance of escape. William Dorrit is in Marshalsea – his sole support is his youngest daughter Amy who supports her father with her meagre income from dress-making. His other children, snobbish musical hall star Fanny and lazy Edward visit him but do nothing to help.

Arthur Cleannan’s mother, a cruel old wheelchair-ridden woman employs Amy. Her son Arthur is attracted to the young girl. But Dicken’s plots are convoluted and the course of true love does not run smoothly. Evil lurks. I look forward to seeing the rest of the series.

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