Caught between two spheres : the relationship of Charles Dickens' street people to the Victorian concept of home Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/w9505260r

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  • Nineteenth-century England witnessed burgeoning urban growth and the resultant struggle of the poor to find adequate shelter. Against this backdrop, Charles Dickens was a fierce advocate for the rights of the street people of London to have sanitary and adequate housing, earning him the title of radical. By combining sentimentality and realism to develop his characters, Dickens was able to communicate his radical views to a wide audience. As a source for Dickens' sentimental images of home, I refer to Frances Armstrong, a twentieth-century critic, who shows insight into Victorian domesticity within the private sphere in her work Dickens and the Concept of Home. Her work provides insights into domesticity that I use in my discussion of three of Dickens' homeless characters: Toby Veck from The Chimes, Jo from Bleak House, and Silas Wegg from Our Mutual Friend. Furthermore, I use Jurgen Habermas' discussion of the public sphere of the streets and private sphere of the home in his work, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, to illustrate that the poor did not, and could not belong to either sphere. Because of their inability to fit these categories, the street people were labeled as inferior and nomadic, a separate race. One such theory was propounded by a contemporary of Dickens, Henry Mayhew in his work London Labour and the London Poor. I show that Dickens countered these prevailing theories. His characterizations of what we conceive of today as "street people" reveal that he did not believe them to be innately inferior and demonstrates that, whenever able, they created on the streets the comforts of home.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Linda Kathman(linda.kathman@oregonstate.edu) on 2008-01-16T14:17:09Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 Wylie_Lynne_S_1999.pdf: 549572 bytes, checksum: bd967b232784506217474f4105af834d (MD5)
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