Dickens's social concern has always been recognized as important to his fiction, but this study focuses specifically upon the representation of class consciousness in his novels - that defining aspect of 19th century society. Dr. Morris's detailed research on influential Victorian journals, especially the powerful hegemonic voices of evangelicism and Utilitarianism, demonstrates the dialogic quality of Dickens's writing - the continuous polemical interaction between the language of his texts and the language of class as articulated by the dominant voices of the era. This imaginative re-articualtion of the contentious political contemporaneity of the novels reveals the marginal perspective they contain - a resilient, comic, non-hegemonic view of the world and offers insight into the developing rhetorics of competitive individualism, class interpolation, and control of urban discontent. Three main features of this book are, firstly, the use of recent critical and political theory (the Bakhtinian concept of dialogism and the Althusserian concept of class interpollation) to provide a conceptual framework for interpretation of the novels.
The second feature is the new research on Victorian journals to document the frequent identity of their language, imagery and themes with the language, imagery and themes in the novel Dickens was writing at the same moment.The third feature is the re-articulation of the ongoing public debate on competitive individualism, enterprise culture, inequality and poverty during the period of rapid capitalist expansionism from approximately 1830 to 1870 offers historical insight into the analogous public debate of the 1980s.
Preface and Acknowledgements - Note on Editions - Introduction: From Margin to Centre - PART 1: STRATEGIES OF SURVIVAL - The Early Novels: Laughter - Martin Chuzzlewit: Anger - PART 2: MECHANISMS OF SUBMISSION - David Copperfield: Alienated Writer - Bleak House: Alienated Readers - PART 3: CONTAINMENT OF DISCONTENT - Great Expectations: A Bought Self - Our Mutual Friend: The Taught Self - Afterword - Notes - Bibliography - Index