Realism and symbolism of Charles Dickens

Realism and symbolism of Charles Dickens

The peculiarity of Dickens’s realism, for example, in comparison with Flaubert’s realism, consists in trying to combine the ethical and aesthetic ideals of the writer into an organic whole. This aspiration of the writer is conditioned, first of all, by the peculiarity of the formation and development of realism in England. If in French literature realism took the form of an independent trend after the Romantic era, then in English literature, romanticism and realism took shape almost simultaneously in artistic systems. Therefore, the formation and development of Charles Dickens realism occurred under the influence of three artistic systems – education, romanticism and new realism in close interaction with them and with the dominance of the realistic beginning.

The

realistic beginning in Dickens’s work determines also the distinct evolution of those characters who in his novels are carriers of evil. The images of Feijin and Quilpe fanned by romantic demonism are inferior to the image of Jonas Chuzzlewit, in which Dickens achieves a deeper and more realistically convincing characterization of the nature of evil. Jonas Chuzzlewit is no longer just a greedy killer, but a man torn apart by contradictions, tormented by remorse and unthinkable suspicion.

If evil is concentrated in one person and devoid of shades in Oliver Twist, Nicolas Nickleby and Antiquities Store, in the later novels of the writer evil is represented as a multi-faceted phenomenon: evil is not only the extreme greed of Jonas, but hypocrisy Pecksniff, uncleanness and greed of Mrs. Gemp. The evil in Martin Chuzzlewit is no longer a “gothic” nightmare, but the reality of an artistic reality created by a realistic writer. Evil now exists not for the magical circle of deeds of “good” characters, but penetrates into this “virgin circle” and co-exists along with the good. Now good and evil are present in every hero of Dickens and the struggle between good and evil occurs within the hero himself.

Evolution of the aesthetic and ethical views of Dickens also explains the significant role

that will be assigned in the writer’s later novels to symbolic images. These images-symbols appear already in “Dombey and Son” – the first great novel of the writer. In artistic terms, the most successful in this novel is the image-symbol of the railway, which for Dombey, who fears everything new, symbolizes death. For Dickens, this image has a dual meaning. The railway is both a symbol of progress, and a symbol of retribution.

In an effort to emphasize the typical features of his characters, Dickens turns to symbolic techniques. For example, Karker’s teeth, which the writer repeatedly reminds the readers of the novel “Dombi and Son”, is not only a grotesque detail of the hero’s external appearance, but also a symbol that determines the role that Karker plays in the fate of Dombey and his family. Later in the novels of Dickens, even a detail in the clothes of the hero will contain an allegorical meaning. For example, the herald of death in the “Cold House” – Tulkinghorn constantly appears in black, even with his costume symbolizing death.

Symbolic in the novels of Dickens and the names of the characters. Even through the symbolic comprehension of the sound of their names, the writer tries to express both their moral essence and to impress the reader with a very definite idea about them. For example, a judicial hook in “Oliver Twist” is called Fang, ie, a claw. In the novel “Martin Chuzzlevit”, the undertaker is called Mold – decay, and Peksniff’s daughters who are far from being soft-hearted are clearly called with irony Merey – charity and Charity – charity. Dickens’s novels are full of names such as Professor Hrap, the Reverend Master Long ears, Lieutenant Murder, Reverend Reva. He also has characters whose names do not mean anything, but produce a comic impression of their own sound.

Already by the time the novel “Little Dorrit” was completed, there were no social secrets for Dickens, so the mystery of man is at the forefront of his novels. Dickens’s realism becomes more and more psychological, and its symbolism serves as a means for realistic typification and in a number of cases reaches the highest level corresponding to the best examples of the novel of our time.


Realism and symbolism of Charles Dickens