Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Note On Dickens’s View Of Women In Bleak House And His Theory Of Fiction Apparent There

Note to a friend:

I’m where Jarndyce proposes to Esther—about 2/3ds through—but if you’re not there yet I’ll leave you in suspense as to whether she accepts, recalling her suppressed passion for the young heroic doctor, Allan Woodcourt.

But what’s striking me, and has been throughout, is Dickens’s attitude towards women, his personal life aside, as it’s shown in Bleak House. Submissive, retiring, humble, kindly, generous, door-mat-for-men type of women seem to be for him the personification of feminine perfection. The archetypal image of them being the helper, “little woman,” is basically the maid. The cold, aloof, beautiful, cool, haughty types, les belles dames sans merci, Lady Dedlock, intrigue him, the way women are attracted to bad boys, but they don’t get any real slice of Dickensian feminine virtue, it seems. 

P.S. Another thing occurring to me is that within Bleak House is a kind of Dickensian theory of fiction, that fiction manifests the connectedness amongst us all or, put another way, all our (at the most) six degrees of separation. The non Esther narrator quite early on comments on how big and populated and civically disparate is the London citizenry but latent amongst them exists a connectedness waiting for patency. 

I do believe that’s *part* of what’s going on thematically in this magnificent novel. 

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