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Old 07-28-2011, 03:31 PM   #17
paola
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I finally managed to finish it! One of the reason it took me very long is because after the first half I started finding it really tedious - true as it is that

Quote:
Dickens' characters are vehicles for his social commentary, they are characterizations!
after all of them have been introduced, indulging on them felt very repetitive, and eventually wearisome. As for those few characters whose personality changes as the novel develops, it felt to me more of a mask falling off and revealing a different persona rather than the character being developed - most notably in the case of Lady Deadlock.

As for the women, I agree completely with what has been said already, they are indeed rather flat, and already midway through I could not stand Esther's properness and compassion, which to me were sickeningly sweet - she is probably the character that stirred the most violent reactions in me, though for the wrong reasons - and the passiveness with which she is so easily transferred from John Jarndice to Allan Woodcourt is one more aspect of the
Quote:
taking what ever bone was thrown her direction and not being confrontational in the face of the wrongs she encountered all around her
Hamlet referred to.

In terms of the narrative tension, I wonder whether it suffered from serialization - if the various groups of chapters were released in monthly installments, I presume Dickens somehow had to "remind" the readers of the plot, so that many "surprises" had been announced quite a bit earlier (e.g. the first eyeing between Esther and Lady Deadlock has more than a hint to the relationship between the two).

Now the positives - I quite enjoyed the descriptions of London, and indeed I found a cinematic aspect to some of them. For instance, I can imagine a camera zooming away from Mr. Snagsby to fly with the crow into Mr. Tokinghorn's chambers in this description:

Quote:
The day is closing in and the gas is lighted, but is not yet fully effective, for it is not quite dark. Mr. Snagsby standing at his shop-door looking up at the clouds, sees a crow, who is out late, skim westward over the slice of sky belonging to Cook's Court. The crow flies straight across Chancery Lane and Lincoln's Inn Garden, into Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Here, in a large house, formerly a house of state, lives Mr. Tulkinghorn.
I also liked the vividness with wich lowlifers were described - in this respect I particularly liked Jo and Phil, who does not speak much and yet is very well characterised. And Mr. Tulkinghorn is also an interesting character to me - appearing out of nowhere, evil but in a principled way, with his little indulgences and shortcomings, like his overconfidence in his knowledge of human nature, that eventually leads him to a fatal misjudging of Hortense's reactions.

What I really found touching is the deep, passionate, desperate love of Sir Leicester, this most upright of man who is ready to forget all he stands for his fallen woman, and the description of the vigil was probably the most moving part of the novel for me.
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