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Mollifying the Masses: Obscuring Class and Alleviating Inequalities in Charles Dickens's David Copperfield, Great Expectations, and Little Dorrit

Teubler, Lisa-Marie LU (2013) LIVR07 20131
Master's Programme: Literature - Culture - Media
English Studies
Abstract
This paper addresses the issue of a rising class-consciousness in the mid-nineteenth century, which threatened to challenge formerly stable power positions. The focus lies specifically on parts of Charles Dickens’s literary production as several early as well as contemporary critics, such as G.K. Chesterton and Andrzej Diniejko, have ascribed his works a rather critical position in the representation of inequalities as related to this newfound class-consciousness. By analysing patterns of social mobility in David Copperfield (1849-50), Little Dorrit (1855-57), and Great Expectations (1860-61), this paper argues that all three narratives stabilize rather than disrupt prevailing social hierarchies. They do so specifically by obscuring class,... (More)
This paper addresses the issue of a rising class-consciousness in the mid-nineteenth century, which threatened to challenge formerly stable power positions. The focus lies specifically on parts of Charles Dickens’s literary production as several early as well as contemporary critics, such as G.K. Chesterton and Andrzej Diniejko, have ascribed his works a rather critical position in the representation of inequalities as related to this newfound class-consciousness. By analysing patterns of social mobility in David Copperfield (1849-50), Little Dorrit (1855-57), and Great Expectations (1860-61), this paper argues that all three narratives stabilize rather than disrupt prevailing social hierarchies. They do so specifically by obscuring class, and thus socio-economic inequalities; by rendering narratives of successful or unsuccessful mobility individual rather than collective destinies; by naturalizing positions and presenting them as unchangeable; and by alleviating unsuccessful mobility through domestic happiness and charity. Consequently, an understanding of inequalities as based on socio-economic misdistribution is denied, and alternative structures to that of class are strengthened so that an unjust system—which could essentially be changed—is reproduced and stabilized instead. (Less)
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author
Teubler, Lisa-Marie LU
supervisor
organization
course
LIVR07 20131
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
3814547
date added to LUP
2013-08-26 13:25:51
date last changed
2013-08-26 13:25:51
@misc{3814547,
  abstract     = {This paper addresses the issue of a rising class-consciousness in the mid-nineteenth century, which threatened to challenge formerly stable power positions. The focus lies specifically on parts of Charles Dickens’s literary production as several early as well as contemporary critics, such as G.K. Chesterton and Andrzej Diniejko, have ascribed his works a rather critical position in the representation of inequalities as related to this newfound class-consciousness. By analysing patterns of social mobility in David Copperfield (1849-50), Little Dorrit (1855-57), and Great Expectations (1860-61), this paper argues that all three narratives stabilize rather than disrupt prevailing social hierarchies. They do so specifically by obscuring class, and thus socio-economic inequalities; by rendering narratives of successful or unsuccessful mobility individual rather than collective destinies; by naturalizing positions and presenting them as unchangeable; and by alleviating unsuccessful mobility through domestic happiness and charity. Consequently, an understanding of inequalities as based on socio-economic misdistribution is denied, and alternative structures to that of class are strengthened so that an unjust system—which could essentially be changed—is reproduced and stabilized instead.},
  author       = {Teubler, Lisa-Marie},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Mollifying the Masses: Obscuring Class and Alleviating Inequalities in Charles Dickens's David Copperfield, Great Expectations, and Little Dorrit},
  year         = {2013},
}