The sheer size and density of each Dickens’ novel intimidates me. I think I’ve said that here before. And yet when I finally take a deep breath and crack open the cover, I revel in the world he creates, marveling at his genius as a writer.
I just finished Little Dorrit. I picked it up after watching the new Masterpiece Classic version on PBS. And what a delightful read! As usual, Dickens ability to create character is almost unparalleled. This one, in particular, used some great devices to show character, whether through speech or mannerisms or thought processes.
For instance, throughout the entire book Mr. Pancks is described in terms of a steamboat. It is amazing how Dickens makes the reader see Pancks by this extended metaphor.
Flora, a woman stuck in the past, runs her mouth continually in stream-of-consciousness dialogue (or rather monologue, since other characters can barely get a word in!) Dickens SHOWS this trait by writing her dialogue with almost no punctuation. Lines after line of it, subject constantly changing, with only the occasional (very occasional) comma and period.
The Marshalsea Prison becomes a character and is even described as one would a person, both in looks and thoughts. It becomes a living, breathing part of that world, not just a “setting.”
Of course, being Dickens, these characters are only a few in a cast of many. I could go on and on concerning the “dream sequences” of Afferty, the unique physical appearances of Flintwinch and Mrs. Clennam and Blandois and “the Bosom.” Add in the irony of the Circumlocution Office and Society and this romping satire of politics and society make this Dickens novel another jewel for both the reader and the writer. But I think my favorites might be the cast of truly “good” characters. Amy Dorrit. Arthur Clennam. John Chivery and his father. These are characters you root for, and ones who do not disappoint in the end.