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By Hilary M. Schor

The daughter in Dickens' fiction is taken into account during this examine now not as a logo of tranquil domesticity and the hearth-fire, yet as a bearer of cultural values--and as a in all probability disruptive strength. because the reliable daughters in his novels (Little Nell, Agnes Wickfield, Esther Summerson, Amy Dorrit) needs to depart the father's apartment and input the broader global, so that they remodel and rewrite the tales they're empowered to inform. The daughter's mystery inheritance, her "portion," is to provide Dickens a manner of analyzing and writing his personal tradition otherwise.

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Example text

Nancy, however, has left the novel: there is no place for her in the last chapter; she is even more anonymous than the unnamed “chief remaining members of Fagin’s gang” who die abroad (). ” But the novel does end with a lost, silent woman:  Dickens and the daughter of the house with Oliver’s mother, Agnes, whose name is “as yet” the only one on a tomb in a silent church; whose name, like the name inside her ring, is unfinished by marriage – and by death. The narrator concludes, I believe that the shade of Agnes sometimes hovers round that solemn nook.

Further, she generates the same fascinated gaze that Nell does; Swiveller stares “with all his might at the beauteous Sally, as if she had been some curious animal whose like had never lived” ().  Yet her monstrosity is particularized as female – and as sexual: “It’s of no use asking the dragon . . I suspect if I asked any questions on that head, our alliance would be at an end. I wonder whether she is a dragon by-theby, or something in the mermaid way. She has rather a scaly appearance.

I will merely observe, therefore, that in writing the book, I had it always in my fancy to surround the lonely figure of the child with grotesque and wild, but not impossible companions, and to gather about her innocent face and pure intentions, associates as strange and uncongenial as the grim objects that are about her bed when her history is first foreshadowed. () Here again, in a “strange and uncongenial” world, the text and the female body become one: where Nancy’s curl-papers guaranteed the grittiness of realism, the wanderings of the “lonely figure” of Nell ensure the readerly engagement: “I have a mournful pride in one recollection associated with ‘little Nell,’ ” the author recounts: “While she was yet upon her wanderings, not then concluded,” an essay appeared “of which she was the principal theme, so earnestly, so eloquently, and tenderly appreciative” that the author could not read it without “an unusual glow of pleasure and encouragement” ().

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