Little Dorrit Themes

Little Dorrit Themes


In the novel Little Dorrit, there are many references made towards the institutions that confined people during the Victorian era. The debtors’ prison, the workhouses but even some ’prisons’ like pride and social prejudice are mentioned in the novel frequently. Almost all characters are trapped in a real or metaphorical prison and the novel follows their struggle to escape from it. When the characters do escape from their prions, they find that freedom is not what they thought it to be. the character are forced to realize that even outside the prison, they are not free, but rather have to accept certain laws and forms of indirect confinement.

Poverty and wealth

There is a clear contrast between the rich and the poor in the novel. Thus, one of the main themes is accentuating those differences and criticizing the way the government dealt with the less privileged part of the population. While the rich continued to thrive, the poor became stuck in an endless circle, with no way out. The poor could not get out of their life on their own, but rather depended on fate. As social novel, Little Dorrit focuses on a corrupt society, seen through their eyes of various characters, each offering his or her own version.


Almost all characters are characterized by excessive pride. While this characteristic may seem normal when it comes to the rich people, it may seem strange when the poor exhibit it as well. What is peculiar in this novel is that those who are excessively proud are often the poor even though they have nothing to be proud of. Their proudness is the result of illusions in which they are better than everyone else and thus it seems normal to them that those around him should treat them with respect.

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