Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens Essay

charles dickens / Dombey and Son / values / society / comic spirit

Essay Topic:

The interpretation of the message of Charles Dickens’ “Dombey and Son”.

Essay Questions:

Why is “Dombey and Son” considered to be one of the most outstanding works of Charles Dickens?

Why is the book treated as a tragedy?

What are the major values of Mr.Dombey?

Thesis Statement:

The author ridicules the absurdity of some characters, so that the characters sometimes become a borderline between “social norms” and idiocy, which is skillfully covered with hypocrisy. “Dombey and son” is a rebel against the abutments of the society, a rebel against egoism and conceited people.

 

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens Essay

Introduction:“Dombey and Son” is one of the most outstanding works of Charles Dickens. Its originality lies in the first place in Dickens’s ability to portray the society in general and lives of separates people within this society. As the novel primary deals analyzing a concrete family belonging to the upper society class the analysis presented by Charles Dickens gets really deep and disheartening. The book becomes a tragic tale with a happy end told in the most unique comic manner. The author ridicules the absurdity of some characters, so that the characters sometimes become a borderline between “social norms” and idiocy, which is skillfully covered with hypocrisy. “Dombey and son” is a rebel against the abutments of the society, a rebel against egoism and conceited people.

Even the title of the novel seems to be confusing as it does and at the same moment does not correspond to the contents of the book. It seems to be the first author’s step in the direction of opening and revealing the comic spirit to the reader. It is easily observable with the very start of the novel, when Mr. Dombey finally gets a son, who is to be nothing but a business tool for his “Dombey and Son” enterprise. The comic spirit starts its life at this very moment when he holds his son and shares his thoughts: “The House will once again...not only in name but in fact Dombey and Son”[Chapter 1]. The spirit starts deriding Mr. Dombey’s values and it main goal is to fight and disclaim them: “ The earth was made for Dombey and Son to trade in, and the sun and moon were made to give them light”[Chapter 1]. Mr. Dombey’s purpose is to realize that all his believes are unimportant and the goal of the comic spirit is to show how ridiculous people look in their “limited” perception of the world and people around them. The “kernel” of the spirit lies in the understanding that not person should place himself above other people and how waning people seem to appear in this “illusory greatness”. A son for Mr. Dombey his continuation and therefore worth of respect but his daughter ”was merely a piece of base coin that couldn’t be invested”.The spirit is used as a tool for achieving balance in the novel. The only was it achieves it is through carrying it to the most incredible level: Mr. Dombey losing his second wife after practically “buying” her, loosing his only alive child Florence and loosing the very essence of his life – his firm “Dombey and Son”. At the second when Mr. Dombey realizes his incredible absurdity – it is the time for his personal changes. The external world and people stop being a part of “Dombey’s world” but it is Dombey who starts being a part of the world. The spirit fights the notion that everything is “an attachment” to the life of a “great” person, because this “greatness” does not exist.

Conclusion: Without this comic spirit the characters of “Dombey and son” would have remained pale and not so deeply revealed. It is this comic spirit that makes the reader realize the absurdity of life principles of Dombey senior and people belonging to his society rank and family. It is this spirit that makes Mr. Dombey realize the same thing. These people live their lives in a way that “is supposed to be” and say things “they are supposed to say”. Their every step is full of pride for being who they are. The comic spirit symbolizes the loss of identity and its resurrection through pain and sufferings. Mr. Dombey needed neither his firm nor his new wife anymore. He needed these things to be taken away from him in order to get rid of the “rotting spirit” he possessed inside of his soul. It was the “comic spirit” that was trying to overcome the “rotting spirit” that possessed Dombey. And as it was a successful victory, probably the participation of the comic spirit in Dickens’s novel is quiet justified and even more than that – necessary. The moment of “mind-brightening” caused by the immense comic feeling of self-absurdity gave birth to another Mr. Dombey. It created a man able to love his daughter and her family. Therefore, the comic spirit made Mr. Dombey face the reality at the end and took him out of his “limited” and “pro-Dombey” perception of this reality. The comic spirit tore the masks of the characters down and became the way to balance and sanity. It is more than just a tool, but the quintessence of Dickens’s “Dombey and Son”.

 

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