Dickens pp 118-157 | Cite as

Martin Chuzzlewit (1958)

  • J. Hillis Miller


Mr Mould is enclosed within his own space. There is nothing around him which is not his world, which does not mirror back to him his own nature, minister to his own comfort of body and mind. Like a marine animal which secretes its own shell, Mr Mould lives in an environment which contains nothing out of harmony with his character and his way of life. He can enjoy completely a placid, calm repose because nothing whatsoever visible to him is a threat. His peaceful ‘gaze’ is met everywhere by a return look which is not the hostile stare of something alien but is as much his own, himself, as his own face in the mirror. At the center of the scene is Mr Mould’s tumbler of punch in which ‘another eye’, which is yet his own eye, brightly returns his glance. In the room is his family, a further extension of himself. Between Mr Mould and his family pass reciprocal smiles in a closed circle of domestic affection: ‘Mr Mould looked lovingly at Mrs Mould, who sat hard by, and was a helpmate to him in his punch as in all other things. Each seraph daughter, too, enjoyed her share of his regards, and smiled upon him in return’ (ch. 25). But the spatial extension of his identity does not stop with the walls of his ‘harem’. Beyond the window, beyond the ‘rural screen of scarlet runners’ through which Mr Mould’s ‘moist glance’ wanders ‘like a sunbeam’, as if he were the light source of his own world, the ‘wider prospect’ reveals only more of the same, more of Mr Mould.


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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

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  • J. Hillis Miller

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