Friday, January 28, 2011

Dombey and son

The full title of the novel is Dealings with the firm of Dombey and Son and it was published like the majority of Dickens’ work in instalments, between 1847 and 1848. Mr Dombey is a proud, unkind and rich merchant in London. His only concern is the continuation of the family name in the context of his firm. For this reason, Dombey cruelly neglects his devoted daughter Florence for the young Paul who he values solely for his potential as a successor in the firm and not as a human being. Further he sends her lover from his firm off on business to the West Indies to prevent their marriage since he is merely a clerk. We watch as Dombey’s pride allows him to fall prey to flatterers: the villainous manager Carker and Major Joe Bagstock particularly. The former destroys his marriage to Edith Granger and as the plot pans out Dombey is left without his fortune, son or wife and lives in solitude and misery. He must accept the kindness of his daughter and Walter Gay, the clerk, with humility to end the book happily. The novel is notable for it depiction of railways (Carker is killed by one, indeed) just as they became prevalent in English transport and changed life forever.

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