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Dombey and son

This novel, written by Charles Dickens mirrors the 19th century society.
Dealing with the firm of Dombey and son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation
it is a representative title because it deals with a major theme of those days: money=
power. From the beginning we can observe the mercantile mentality and the idea that
everything can be bought or sold. It is also a generic title because it gives the reader the
name of the two major characters of the book but also reveals the name of their Firm
which is equal with the idea of House.
The text begins with a description of both Dombey and son but revealed in a
binary opposition, for example we have the visual imagery: Dombey is described as
sitting in a darken corner but his son is disposed immediately in front of the fire that
gives us the impression of the real place that son has to occupy in the House. dombey is
placed as a marginal character sitting in that corner but the place of the marginal
character will be taken by the son: ´´ dombey sat in the great armchair and son was
carefully disposed on a low settee.´´ This binary opposition is also given by the use of
antonymic adjectives. We also have a gustatory image: son as a muffin that has to
become brown, meaning that he has to be toasted but also a kinaesthetic imagery: son
lay tucked.
The description of the two characters using the opposition continues in the text
and it is used a syntactic parallelism: eight-and-forty years vs. eight-and-forty minutes,
dombey was rather bald, rather red and son was very bald and very red. We also have
the personification of Time and of his brother Care that left marks on dombey s brow-
meaning maturity but also a comparison: as a tree that was to come down in good time,
suggesting the idea of verticality and the description of human forests as an allegorical
presentation of the world. Time is also described as a cook that in any moment would
take delight to do the same marks on son countenance also.
Dombey is exulting but son is curled up and clenched meaning that the birth of
his son it is a happy event for dombey but at the same time the son squares at existence
for having come upon him so unexpectedly, a different perspective of life.
The description of dombey as owning a heavy gold watch-chain but also having
buttons that sparkled phosphorescently gives us the image of a parvenue.
Mr. Dombey announces his wife of the importance of the event but also of the
hegel fact that now his firm is in fact real, by having a son, and the comparation of the
name of the firm with his son being the lord of the house explains his importance for the
Mrs. Dombey attitude regarding this announce is typical for the women in the
Victorian age that had no name, they were called by their husband s name, were not
used to any form of affection, were as servants and as an object of display for their
husbands. In fact the most important thing is that their marriages were social
contracts.The use of ´´ my. My dear´´ emphasizes the idea of property, the author
mentioning the fact that dombey was not used with that form of address, but the use of
of course also emphasizes the idea of him being a master that has all rights on the
members of the family. In the moment that she closed her eyes again, we understand
that morally here eyes were closed from a long time.
The description of mrs. Dombey is a prototype: the sick lady, that raised her
eyes towards him, meaning that she is down and he is up; and the use of ´´ feebly
echoed´´ gives us also the idea of lack of strength, that she only echoes about all her
husbands says.
We have also mentioned the great wish of mr. dombey : his son named paul after
his father and grandfather as a tradition and also the importance of the son in the familiy
and we may conclude that the great expectation of his birth has more to do with the
continuity and a stability of the firm.
Dickens describes with irony the importance of dombey and his son and all the
elements of nature are ready to receive them: for making business. They all work for
the realisation of his plans because he has no limits and the development of the firm will
reach cosmic boundaries..
The course of dombey s life is similar with the one of his father but we can also
find out the type of relationship he has with his wife that has no heart to give him
because the life with him is not the one that any young lady would dream of.. Her
characteristics as a Victorian wife are also defined in her dutiful and meek endurance.
Dombey does not care about his wife sufferings.
Dombey and son had nothing to do with feelings but only with business.
Feelings are looked as being childish( fancy ). Mr. dombey dealt with reasons and mrs.
Dombey dealt with feelings , he thought that a woman of common sense will be
gratified by a matrimonial alliance with them; not a marriage, not a love relationship,
but a contract. The idea of dombey that his wife had her eyes fully open to those
advantages is also an irony regarding the role of the women in the marriage; that she
should be grateful that she had daily knowledge of her position in society, that she had
the privilege of doing the honours of his house in a remarkably lady-like and becoming
manner- this is a Must to be happy.
The appearance of the little girl has from the beginning a negative connotation
because she cheats to enter into the chamber as if she was not allowed and she was also
timidly. Her position is in the corner where she can see the only face that means her
only bond. For her father she was nothing to take advantages of, just a – piece of base
coin- and he could not afford any more feelings because she was the exact opposite of
his Boy – a bad Boy. The use of the verb – to sprinkle- to the place where she stood –
dust in the by-path – offers the exact image that the girl had in her fathers eyes.
And as if the reader needs more to understand her position in the house and
inevitably her future position in the society her father allows her, only because he was
very satisfied, to look to her – pretty brother- but the restriction comes just immediately
as she is used to- don’t touch him!-
This fragment of dombey and son offers us a clear image about the mentality of
those years and about the importance of money above everything.

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