Friday, August 15, 2008

Dickens' "Situations"


The Similarity of His Methods In Winding Up His Plots.

It is curious what a penchant Dickens had for certain melodramatic situations, which smiled to his fancy so telling that he repeated and reproduced them many times over. He had a lively dramatic turn, and I always thought would have had extraordinary success as a dramatist. I once asked him why he had not taken up this "line" seriously, and I think he made the excuse — it was long ago, many years before his death — that he had not time, taste or patience. The real reason no doubt was that he could not work without expanding and could not "carve heads upon a cherry stone."

A literary friend, who has his "Boz" at his fingers' ends, has with great acuteness pointed out to me that Nicholas Nickleby was a genuine "Adelphi walking gentleman." His manner, heroic bursts, protection of his sister, boarding of Ralph, etc., were all elements in the Adelphi melodrama. Ralph was a regular stage villain. That his works are all dramatic and conceived in the true spirit of the stage is plain from the vast list of adaptations. Each story has been adapted again and again and will bear the process admirably.

One method for winding up his plot, to which he was excessively partial, was the unmasking of the villain owing to the betrayal of some confederate. The parties are generally brought together in a room by the more virtuous members. The confederate then emerges from his concealment and tells a long story of villainy. We have this denouement first in "Oliver Twist," where Monks makes his revelations. In "Nickleby" Ralph is confronted with "the man Snawley and Squeers." In the "Old Curiosity Shop" Quilp is similarly exposed. In "Barnaby Rudge" Haredale forces his hereditary enemy to make revelations. In "Chuzzlewit" Jonas is confronted with another betrayer. In "Copperfield" Uriah Heep is denounced and exposed by Mr. Micawber. In "Bleak House" Lady Dedlock is similarly tracked. In nearly all the cases the guilty person goes off and commits suicide. — Gentleman's Magazine.

A Compulsory Conclusion

He was a flirt, and the girl knew it.

He had been saying tender things and looking unutterable ones for weeks.

And every time he opened his mouth he put his foot in it.

At last he came to the point.

"I have lost my heart," he said to her in that way which every woman knows so well the interpretation of.

She looked at him searchingly. "Science," she responded, "says that nothing is lost."

He was about to reply, but he caught himself.

Then he got out of the presence of that girl, for he knew in his soul that she was science, and that in her opinion his heart was nothing. — Detroit Free Press.

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