Bleak House

Deconstructive and New Historical Criticism of Bleak House

Bleak House, a novel by the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, has a number of elements: comedy, tragedy, melodrama, romance, and biting social satire. The work also includes at least ten major characters, and scores of minor ones. The novel's complexity and length lends itself quite easily to a number of critical interpretations, including feminist, Marxist, and psychoanalytic theories. In the following paper, this argument will focus on a deconstruction of certain aspects of the novel, especially Dickens' names for characters, and on a new historical approach of literary criticism of the satirical attacks on the Chancery justice system of Dickens' day. Dickens' awareness of the richness and variability of language, and his willingness to question the social institutions and customs of his day, both lead the reader to consider these theoretical approaches.

Dickens employs a host of musical, comical, telling, and puzzling names for his characters. A representative list includes Tulkinghorn, Clare, Summerson, Dedlock, Snagsby, Nemo, Krook, Flite, Tangle, Barbary, Rouncewell, Jarndyce, Skimpole, Vholes, Woodcourt, Smallweed, Turveydrop, Guppy, Boythorn, Jellyby, Badger, Bucket, and even the minimally named Jo. The...

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