Little Dorrit Irony

Little Dorrit Irony


Charles Dickens introduces into his novel the Circumlocution Office, a made-up government department who is supposed to satirize the way the British Government and state officials deal with the population. The name circumlocution is created by combining two Latin words and it means running around in circles without having any result. The Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit does that that, running in circles around problems but never solving them. Circumlocution Office is thus used in an ironic way with the purpose of showing how incompetent the Government is and how little they can do for the people.


In order to win Little Dorrit’s family over and gain their approval to marry Little Dorrit, John starts to bring small gifts like cigarettes to Mr. Dorrit. After John is rejected, the gifts stop and Mr. Dorrit tries to convince his daughter to accept his feelings or be John’s mistress just so that he could continue receiving gifts from John and his family. The narrator presents the situation with irony, telling the reader that while Mr. Dorrit thinks that he and his family is better than anyone else, he doesn’t mind knowing that his daughter is someone’s mistress just so he could continue receiving gifts. This attitude is exhibited by Mr. Dorrit in his relationship with Arthur as well, Mr. Dorrit expecting gifts and money from him and getting mad when Arthur stopped giving Mr. Dorrit money.


The Meagles family is known for taking in a poor orphan girl and taking care of her but the narrator presents the situation ironically. Despite taking the girl to be raised as their daughter, Tattycoram ended up being treated as a servant and always forced to see the kind of life she could have had if only she would have been born in a good family. The situation climaxes when Tattycoram runs away from her family and exposes the truth about how she was treated and what she had to go through.

Father and son

Tip is Little Dorrit and Fanny’s brother who was supposed to help them get out of debt. Being the oldest child and male, Tip should have worked in order to help his sisters. However, Tip ends up in the same debtors’ prison as his father and because of the same reasons. Ironically, it is his sisters who help him pay his debts and support financially the family while he became a burden for his sisters, just like his father.


Mr. Dorrit became so used to the life in prison, that he stopped trying to find enough money to get out or support his family. Because of this, Fanny and Little Dorrit started working from a young age to ensure that they have what they need. Despite not working, Mr. Dorrit couldn’t accept the idea that his daughter, which he considered as being noble and from aristocrat descent, would work for food and clothes. Because of this, Fanny and Little Dorrit started to lie to their father, claiming that they were out partying, not working. Despite knowing the truth, Mr. Dorrit then begun to criticize his daughter for spending too much and being reckless. Through this, the narrator presents Mr. Dorrit in an ironic way, as a man who is not willing to work but is willing to pretend that his daughters are partying and ignore the fact that without their financial help, he wouldn’t have what he needs in order to survive.

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