Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens is one of the greatest writers of the XIXth in England. He wrote several novels, such as: Oliver Twist, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, etc. In his works, he criticizes the hypocrisy of his contemporary society, the injustice of the social system of his time and sympathizes with its victims.

In Chancery is the opening chapter of the novel Bleak House, where Dickens s criticism of the political and social system is at its best. The protagonist of the fragment is the High Court of Chancery, the law Court of Justice in England at that time. The fragment can be divided into two parts: the description of a typical raw autumn day in the London of Dickens s time and the description of the High Court of Chancery. The two parts are related by the metaphorical use of the word fog, which characterizes both London and the High Court of Justice.

It was Dickens s declared intention to dwell in this opening chapter of Bleak House on the destructive influence on people s lives exercised by the English legal system of his time, as a part of the larger social wrong done to the low and the poor, symbolized here by the grim presence of the building of the High Court of Chancery on an apocalyptic foggy day in London, reminding one of both the Biblical Flood and of the Judgement Day, as if man s life were but a long continuous suffering dictated by his predestined fate. The author s omniscient eye surveys the scene like the lens of a film camera in its mobility, now encompassing a large panoramic view, now swooping down to a close scrutiny of some individual detail, in a constant expansion and contraction of the narrative, symbolic of the foul breathing of some monstrous malevolent being.

From the very beginning, the narrative of Bleak House presupposes a Shakespearean correspondence between the external appearance of things and their inner condition. The presentation of the physical degradation of the environment, of the people and animals populating it in this opening chapter, is only meant as an allusion to their spiritual and moral degradation under the influence of corrupted society. Thus the opening chapter of the novel is symbolic of the human condition of the characters in the book, who are to be thrown into a disordered world which had gone bad long before they were even born. Their desperate attempts to survive such a day are symbolically as futile as those allegedly made by the sinful victims of the Biblical Flood or those which will be supposedly made by wicked sinners of Judgement Day. The physical muddle presented in the books opening paragraphs, together with the obscurity of the day caused by the presence of thick fog lying out on the yards and the great polluted river have a direct correspondent in the foggy atmosphere at the High Court of Chancery whose High Lord of Chancery and grotesque associates are lost in labyrinthine activities which lack any guiding light, obscuring rather than illuminating ...

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