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“Who the dickens ‘Boz’ could be

Puzzled many a learned elf,

Till time unveiled the mystery,

And ‘Boz’ appeared as Dickens’ self.”

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I am so glad that Professor Woodworth tied in the influence of King Henry the VIII on the novel Barnaby Rudge.  I personally am a huge fan of that era and any time I see it mentioned in another English class I tend to “nerd out”.  I have read different “aspects” of interpretations of what King Henry was really like (from The Tudors to the juicy Phillipa Gregory Novels) and everyone took something different from that infamous reign.  I really wonder how “fresh” the scars where from that monstrous (but fabulous) reign of Henry and his ever-changing marital status.  I know that I have read about how utterly impossible it was to stay in “good” with the king.  People likened to being in Henry’s court towards the end of his life to being in the presence of a raging bear that you may or may not be able to amuse long enough to keep him from striking you dead.  Henry’s reign was not only infamous because of his various marriages, but the lengths in which he would go to get what he wanted.  Including tearing England away from Catholicism and pissing off entire country’s at a time (Spain..France….Germany…etc).

One day he would claim  his female children, some days not.

One day he was happily married -madly in love.  The next month the same wife was on the chopping block for incest.

He was even a glorified child molester.  Katherine Howard (his 4th wife) was in her early teens when he, in his 40 I believe, decided he wanted to marry what was supposed to be a “girlfriend”.  Katherine Howard was simply another pawn for the powerful nobility of the Howard family.  She had to go where they said go.  They said seduce the King, so she did.  They said make the King love you, so she did.  Marry the King they said – and of course, she did.  Poor Katherine fell in love another boy her age in court and her adultery was found out and she and everyone involved was executed.

Did anyone stop the King??  On the contrary – the ambitious fed his desires and created a true monster.

With Dickens growing up with true history of this …this RICHNESS – I can’t help but wonder if England’s wonderfully scandalous royals had significant influence on how Dickens approached and enticed his audiences.

The Cells are each 13 feet long, by 7 feet broad, and are all of them of one uniform height of 9 fret. The piece or partitions between them are 18 inches thick, and are worked with close joints, so as to preclude as much no possible the transmission of sound. The ceiling is arched, and the light is admitted by a window (a fixture), filled with strong glass, of similar form, in the hack wall, and crossed by a wrought-iron bar, in the direction of its length, so so to divide it into two portions, of about 5 inches each. The engraving shows the interior of a cell; on the left is a stone water-closet pan, with a cast-iron top, acting on a hinge let into the wall. Next is a metal basin, supplied with water, to prevent the waste of which, the quantity is limited to one cubic foot, or about 6 gallons; the service-pipe from the water-trough being beat in the form of a trap, to prevent any transmission of sound. Opposite these conveniences is a strong three-legged stool, and a small table, with a shaded gas burner above it. Across the cell is slung from iron staples in the wall the prisoner's hammock, with mattress and blankets, which are folded up and placed upon a shelf to the left of the door in the day time. Here also is a hand-spring communicating with a bell, which when pulled causes a small iron tablet, inscribed with the number of the cell in the engraving, to project from the wall, so that the officer on duty in the gallery may be apprised of the precise cell where he is required. Each cell is warmed by air, through perforated iron plates in the floor, supplied through flues, communicating with immense stoves in the basement of the wing. The foul air is carried off, and a circulation of atmosphere maintained by means of perforated iron plates above the door of the cell, which communicate with an immense shaft ...
from The Illustrated London News, 1843

Characters I want to comment on quickly:

 

Miggs – I want to slap her.  Who is so utterly hell-bent on causing mischief that that she sits up ALL NIGHT just to watch her prank come to fruition.  What a little rat-fink. She will be the root of some future troubles for sure.

Mr. Tappertit – the name itself is as silly and arrogant as the man himself.  More so – the BOY himself.  The secret society cracks me up.  It really does.  He deserves Miggs as a housemate.

Mr. Varden – What a loveable character! A bit flat compared to the more naughty side characters – but he is an over all good guy.  I like everything I have read thus far about him. 

Mrs. Varden – Yuck!  What a manipulative little Minx!  I think she and Miggs feed off of each other into a perpetual embarrassment to my gender!  Yikes!

Mr. Chester – Let’s add him to the ever-growing “bad guy” list.

Hugh – I think there is more to this guy.  That might be wishful thinking – but I don’t like how he is written off as an animal.

Barnaby- bless his heart. A sweet innocence there that a lot of the other characters tragically lack!

Joseph Willet – He is on team “Good” with Barnaby and Mr. Varden.  Hot-headed – but only because he is treated like a child by his father.

Grip – I read somewhere (like everyone else may have at this point) that he is the inspiration for Poe’s “The Raven”

Barnaby Rudge takes off like a wonderfully written ghost story.  It is literally a dark and stormy night.  The local villagers are gathered around the cozy Maypole’s fire when a stranger appears and starts asking unsettling questions.  He, according to himself, is just a curious passerby and that his curiosity is not out of the ordinary.  A tale ensues about a murder 22 years before.  It is really creepy how Daisy describes the sound of the “bell of the dead” but come to find out – it was the alarm bell of the murder victim, cut short by the murderer himself.

The Locksmith, Gabriel Varden, is an all around good guy.  It explains that he has aged well because he has lived well.  He is accosted by the stranger coming from the Maypole, I am going to call him Scar Face, and after a “rest” back at the Maypole.  On his way home, he happens upon a stab victim in the arms of Barnaby Rudge,  Who, by the way, is like that guy from Mice and Men.  Just an off the cuff comparison.  Varden is thinking positive and mentions that this will be a viable excuse for his late return home.

An interesting side plot will be that of the Locksmith’s vain apprentice Sim Tappertit (tap her tit lol … SORRY) and Varden’s beautiful daughter.

I am currently on chapter 4.  The setting and flow and characters are all very interesting and satisfactory to me.  I feel like I am reading the Sleepy Hallow of Charles Dicken’s work.

Ok!  So I am continually loving Esther.  Her sacrifice is constant.  Her goodness over whelming.  Another person that rivals her in character alone is Mr. George the soldier.  He as much of a true man as she is a true woman! Both self-sacrificing and strong in resolve to do the right thing.

Speaking of Mr. George, I could just scream at the injustice of him being locked away.  It seems that minimal evidence was needed back then to convict someone (ahem, Tale of Two Cities, anyone?).

Ada and Caddie are truly blessed to have a friend such as Esther.  What is so startling about Esther is her astounding  outpouring of affection.  It is so juxtaposed with the aloof, cool English ways.

And now, as you can see me skipping back and forth, let me go back to Mr. George.  Dickens better let him free by the end of my reading!  I LIKE him, and that old meddling lawyer that was killed interfered with so many people negatively, that pretty much several people are legitimate suspects.

And you know, Lady Dedlock has made selfish decisions, but she is NOT the killer.  I think it is that disgruntled maid.  I mean, what would have kept her from doing such?

I don’t know why I root so for Lady Dedlock but I feel like she is a victim of circumstance and simply doesn’t possess the bravery to withstand humiliation and poverty – even for the relationship of her daughter.  She sees Esther is alright and in full bloom as a woman, therefore she must struggle with her own will to survive versus her maternal instincts.  She is a human!  A hardened human – but I think there is a really hurt person under all that majestic snobbery.

I have had a change of heart for OMF.  I stopped letting the words become a hard, impermeable wall and let myself sink into the story this time.  I am very pleased with how the romance is blossoming between Rokesmith and Bella.  How relieved I was when they made up!  Also, Rokesmith is so happy to see the human side of Bella, that it gratified me for his sake that his love isn’t wasted on a shallow creature. Also the fact Bella confides her fears about Mr. Boffin and also agrees to speak to Lizzie – these things are the building of a partnership between Rokesmith and Bella.  I feel that if they stay candid with each other, they can make a great couple.  I want them to be happily ever after!

Speaking of endings – what a sad ending for that poor Betty Hidgen.  What a marvel it was to see such fierce independence!  She walked all day (dying!) just to escape the humiliation of accepting charity.  They just don’t make people like that anymore.

I still have some more reading to do for OMF and also for Bleak House – but I wanted to comment on these two events because they really have turned my opinion around about OMF.  I find myself forgetting that is an assignment.  That’s a first – in regards to this particular story.

I have a quote I really liked from OMF this go round.  It reads:

“No one is useless in this world…who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.” – John Rokesmith, Our Mutual Friend