The action takes place in the middle of the XIX century. In one of the ordinary London nights in the life of Mr. Dombey, the greatest event is happening – his son is born. Henceforth his firm, in whose management he sees the meaning of his life, will again not only by name, but also in fact “Dombey and Son”. After all, before that Mr. Dombey had no offspring, except for his six-year-old daughter, Florence. Mr. Dombey is happy. He accepts congratulations from his sister, Mrs. Chick, and her friends, Miss Tox. But together with joy, the house came to grief too – Mrs. Dombey did not bear childbirth and died, embracing Florence. On the recommendation of Miss Tox in the house take a nurse Paulie Tudle. She sincerely sympathizes with the forgotten father Florence and, to spend more time with the girl, ties up a friendship with her governess Susan Nipper, and also convinces Mr. Dombey, that the baby is useful to spend more time with his sister. And at this time the old master of ship’s instruments Solomon Gils and his friend Captain Cuttle celebrate the beginning of the work of Gils’s nephew Walter Gae at Dombey and Son. They joke that someday he will marry the owner’s daughter.
After the baptism of Dombey-son, the father as a token of gratitude to Paulie Toodle announces his decision to give her older son Rob an education. This news causes Paul’s homesickness and despite the prohibition of Mr. Dombey, Paulie and Susan are on their way to the slums where Tudley is staying during the next walk with the children. On the way back in the street hustle and bustle, Florence was lost and lost. The old woman, who calls herself Mrs. Brown, lures her to her, takes her clothes and lets go, somehow covering her rags. Florence, looking for the way home, meets Walter Gaea, who takes her to his uncle’s house and informs Mr. Dombey that his daughter was found. Florence returned home, but Mr. Dombey fires Paulie Toodle for taking her son in an unsuitable place for him.
Paul grows feebly and painfully. To improve his health, he and Florence are sent to the sea, to Brighton, to the children’s board of Mrs. Pipchin. Father, and also Mrs. Chick and Miss Tox visit him once a week. Miss Tox’s trips are not overlooked by Major Begstock, who has certain types on her, and, noticing that Mr. Dombey clearly overshadowed him, the major finds a way to bring Mr Dombey to an acquaintance. They got along surprisingly well and quickly got along.
When Paul turns six, he is placed in the school of Dr. Blimber in the same place, in Brighton. Florence is left with Mrs. Pipchin, so that his brother can see her on Sundays. Since Dr. Blimber is in the habit of overloading his students, Paul, despite Florence’s help, is becoming increasingly painful and eccentric. He is friends only with one pupil, Toots, ten years older than him; As a result of intensive training with Dr. Blimber, Toots became somewhat weak in mind.
A junior agent dies in the Barbados trade agency, and Mr. Dombey sends Walter to the vacated seat. This news coincides with Walter on the other: he will finally find out why, while James Carker is in high office, his older brother John, cute Walter, is forced to occupy the lowest position – it appears that in his youth John Carker robbed the firm and since then redeems his guilt.
Shortly before the holidays, Paul is done so badly that he is released from school; he alone wanders around the house, dreaming of everyone loving him. At the party on the occasion of the end of the half-year, Paul is very weak, but happy, seeing how well everyone treats him and Florence. He is taken home, where he withers from day to day and dies, wrapping his arms around his sister.
Florence is seriously going through his death. The girl grieves in solitude – she does not have a single soul close to her, except for Susan and Toots, who sometimes visits her. She passionately wants to achieve the love of her father, who, from the day of the funeral, has become self-absorbed and does not communicate with anyone. Once, having gained courage, she comes to him, but his face expresses only indifference.
Meanwhile, Walter is leaving. Florence comes to say goodbye to him. Young people express their friendly feelings and are persuaded to call each other a brother and sister.
Captain Cuttle comes to James Carker to find out what the prospects for this young man are. From Captain Karker learns of the mutual propensity of Walter and Florence and is so interested that he places his spy in Mr. Gills’s house.
Mr. Gills is very concerned that there is no news of Walter’s ship. Finally, the instrumental master leaves in an unknown direction, leaving the keys to his shop to Captain Cuttle with the order “to keep the fire in the hearth for Walter.”
To unwind, Mr. Dombey undertakes a trip to Demington in the company of Major Begstock. The major meets his old friend Mrs. Skewton there with her daughter Edith Granger, and introduces Mr. Dombey to them.
James Carker goes to Demington to his patron. Mr. Dombey introduces Carker to a new acquaintance. Soon Mr. Dombey makes an... offer to Edith, and she indifferently agrees; this engagement is very much like a bargain. However, the indifference of the bride disappears when she becomes acquainted with Florence. Between Florence and Edith a warm, trusting relationship is established.
When Mrs. Chick informs Miss Tox about the upcoming wedding of her brother, the latter falls into a swoon. Guessing about the unfulfilled matrimonial plans of her friend, Mrs. Chick indignantly breaks off relations with her. And since Major Begstock has long set up Mr. Dombey against Miss Tox, she is now forever separated from Dombey’s house.
So, Edith Granger becomes Mrs. Dombey.
Somehow after the next visit of Toots, Susan asks him to go to the toolmaker’s shop and ask Mr. Giles’s opinion about the article in the newspaper, which she hid from Florence all day. In this article it is written that the ship on which Walter sailed was drowned. In the shop Toots finds only Captain Cuttle, who does not question the article and laments Walter.
Mourns for Walter and John Carker. He is very poor, but his sister Heriet prefers to share the shame with him of life in the splendid house of James Carker. Once, Heriet helped a woman in rags walking past her house. This is Alice Marwood, who served time on hard labor as a fallen woman, and James Carker is to blame for her fall. Learning that the woman who pity her, – James’s sister, she curses Heriet.
Mr. and Mrs. Dombey are returning home after the honeymoon. Edith is cold and arrogant with everyone except Florence. Mr. Dombey notices this and is very unhappy. Meanwhile, James Carker seeks meetings with Edith, threatening to tell Mr. Dombey of Florence’s friendship with Walter and his uncle, and Mr. Dombey will further distance himself from his daughter. So he acquires over it some kind of power. Mr. Dombey is trying to subordinate Edith to his will; she is ready to reconcile with him, but he does not consider it necessary in his pride to take even a step towards it. To further humiliate his wife, he refuses to deal with her other than through an intermediary – Mr. Carker.
Helene’s mother, Mrs. Skewton, fell seriously ill, and Edith and Florence are being escorted to Brighton, where she soon dies. Tooté, who had come to Brighton after Florence, having gained courage, admits to her in love, but Florence, alas, sees in him only a friend. Her second friend, Susan, is unable to see the disparaging attitude of her master to her daughter, tries to “open his eyes,” and for this audacity, Mr. Dombey dismisses her.
The gap between Dombey and his wife is growing. She offers a divorce, Mr. Dombey does not agree, and then Edith escapes from her husband with Karker. Florence rushes to console her father, but Mr. Dombey, suspecting her of associating with Edith, strikes her daughter, and she runs away from the house in the tent of the instrument maker to Captain Cuttle.
And soon Walter arrives! He did not drown, he was lucky to escape and return home. Young people become a bride and groom. Solomon Giles, who has been wandering around the world in search of his nephew, returns just in time to attend a modest wedding with Captain Cuttle, Susan and Toots, who is upset, but comforted by the thought that Florence will be happy. After the wedding, Walter and Florence return to the sea. Meanwhile, Alice Marwood, wishing to take revenge on Carker, extends blackmail from his servant Rob Toodle, where Carker and Mrs. Dombey will go, and then passes this information to Mr. Dombey. Then her conscience torments her, she begs Heriet Carker to warn the criminal brother and save him. But it’s too late. At the moment when Edith throws to Carker, that it was only out of hatred of her husband that she decided to escape with him, but he hates it even more, Mr. Dombey’s voice is heard outside the door. Edith leaves through the back door, locking it behind him and leaving Carker to Mr. Dombey. Carker manages to escape. He wants to leave as far as possible, but on the plank platform of the remote village where he was hiding, suddenly sees Mr. Dombey again, bounces off from him and gets under the train.
Despite the worries of Heriet, Alice soon dies. Heriet cares not only for her: after the death of James Carker, he and his brother inherited a large inheritance, and with the help of Mr. Morphine in love with her, she rents Mr. Dombey – he is ruined because of James Carker’s revealed abuses.
Mr. Dombey is crushed. Deprived of all the positions in society and the beloved cause, thrown by everyone except the faithful Miss Tox and Paulie Toodle, he locked himself in an empty house – and only now remembers that all these years he had a daughter who loved him and whom he rejected; and he is bitterly sorry. But the minute he’s about to commit suicide, Florence appears before him!
The old age of Mr. Dombey is warmed by the love of her daughter and her family. In their friendly family circle often appear Captain Cuttle, and Miss Tox, and married Toots and Susan. Cured of ambitious dreams, Mr. Dombey found happiness in giving his love to his grandchildren – Paul and little Florence.