The Prevailing Theme of Dickens


There appears to be a prevailing theme in Dickens’ works.  That of the nasty beast having a life changing event.  This is certainly the case with Scrooge and absolutely what we are seeing with Mrs. Joe Gargery.  She was a nasty piece of work before her attack.  I was hoping for an untimely death just so I wouldn’t have to deal with her, however her attack has changed her dramatically.  She has gone from a lion to a mouse and somehow poor Joe is still suffering because of it.  How is it possible that his abusive wife has lost all ability to continue her tirades and somehow he’s still miserable?

Her necessity for Orlick to be comfortable and her worrisome nature towards him is concerning.  Is she upset because they had fought before hand or does she want to appease her attacker?  Maybe, like most novels, we’re supposed to suspect Orlick.  Maybe he had nothing to do with it and she’s just concerned because of their fight.  However, it does not appear to be in her nature to be kind for no purpose.  It is definitely suspicious.

Dickens was a genius at this sort of “coming of kindness” situation.  He understood that some people just need a big huge shove into becoming a decent person.  It is, unfortunately, a side effect of being human.  Some people are just an unhappy lot and unless there is a huge event to change that, they will remain in their nasty state forever.  My grandmother had a next door neighbor that has come to mind with this post today.  I haven’t thought about him in ages and yet here he is.  Now, this man saw his brother hit and killed by a train as a young boy.  This set off a series of events in his life that eventually led to the very vile creature I knew as an older man.  He was a hideous creature and the terror of many childhood memories.  He was just awful.  I have always wondered what it would have taken for him to be kind again or was his heart so blackened by the nightmares of his past that it was just too late?  Was there any possible way his cold heart could have ever been thawed?

We see these dramatic turn arounds sometimes in people who are diagnosed with a terminal illness.  All of a sudden they are giving away the money they greedily held onto before.  All of a sudden they want their children around.  My own paternal grandmother (not the one I talk about on here so often) was quite a piece of work and for years my father chose not to be in contact with her.  There was not a single peep between the two until the day my father got a phone call that she was dying of stomach cancer.  It was Christmas Eve, I remember being so upset and it being a very hard Christmas indeed.  My father, although he has never told us exactly what happened, found peace with her at last.  She had to see him and this was a drastic turn of events.  My father holds a lot of resentment about his childhood, rightly so I may add, but it has not hardened him.  He’s a tough man but he loves deeply.

The human spirit is an odd creation indeed.  The people who seem to have every reason to be hardened often are not and those that really have no reason at all are.  It’s a strange event.  Have you ever had anyone make a drastic turn of conscience?

Chapter Challenge: 17&18


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