Dickens: Dombey and Son, Bleak House
Dickens reacts — erratically, but much more vividly than Jane Austen could have done — to an almost infinite series of misjudgements, stupidities, acts of cruelty and unkindness. In a sense, this is simply a natural extension of the difference between the England of her day and the England of his: in the thirty-odd years between Jane Austen’s death in 1817 and the beginning of ‘late’ Dickens novels, the population of England and Wales increased from just over ten million (1811 Census) to nearly eighteen million (1851); the drift to the towns accelerated; ‘reform’ and (a bit later) attempts at factory and health legislation got at least some official recognition; and England’s industrial power increased to the point where it could claim to be indeed ‘the workshop of the world’.
KeywordsMercury Steam Income Smoke Phen
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