Little Dorrit Metaphors and Similes

Little Dorrit Metaphors and Similes


The Circumlocution Office appears as a made-up government department in the novel. It is unclear what is the department’s role, its purpose never being clearly stated. However, despite not having a real, tangible role, the incapacity of those who work in the Circumlocution Office affects many of the characters in the book. Daniel Doyce for example, is unable to patent one of his inventions because of the Circumlocution Office even though he tries it for twelve years. When Arthur tries to find how much debt Mr. Dorrit has, he too is forced to go from one official to another in the Circumlocution Office without getting a clear answer to his questions. It is clear thus that Charles Dickens uses the Circumlocution Office as a metaphor for the British Government and how it deals with the problems that appeared in his country, a government that runs in circles without solving the existing problems but rather creating more difficulties for the people living in the country.


The name Charles Dickens gave to the family who rules inside the Circumlocution Office is suggestive and has a metaphoric meaning. Barnacles is the name Charles Dickens gave to a family whose members are involved in politics. However, they care more about themselves than they care about the people they are supposed to help and their only purpose is to make sure that their family members have a place in the Circumlocution Office. Apart from being incompetent, they are also selfish and do more damage than good. The Barnacles family is perceived as a parasite, the name being taken from a small sea life creature that attaches itself to the bottom of boats and slowly damages the boats in time. The Barnacle family is used as a metaphor to describe the politician who is a parasite, living off the back of the honest citizen and who must be scraped off regularly before it can do any real damage.

Metaphor for confinement

The cell that appears in the first chapter of the novel con be considered as a metaphor for isolation. The cell is described as being a filthy place, where the sun never shines and away from the civilized world where those who enter are stripped off their identity and dignity. In the first chapter, the cell holds two people coming from different classes but who are both isolated because of what they have done. The debtors’ prison and the workhouses can be considered metaphors for confinement as well. Those who entered in either of them were forced to live trapped in a system that didn’t offered them a way out and that exploited them.


Pancks can be considered as being a metaphor for capitalism. He embodies the idea of capitalism completely, thinking that a man should focus only on work and how to earn more money. In fact, his goal is to work without rest portraying thus s capitalist society where family, friends, leisure and everything else except work is considered as being something useless and pointless.


Dreams are both a metaphor and a motif that appear in the novel frequently. Whenever something happens that is not completely rational, the character who experiences the phenomena feels like he or she is in a dream. Thus, dreams are used as a metaphor for the events that are irrational or for the events that are hard to understand by the characters involved.

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