View Full Version : Difficult passages - Dickens

11-06-2013, 04:41 AM
Some of the passages take some reading in this book. I find I sometimes have to re-read a passage several times to ensure I have understood correctly, although I think I get the gist.For example (Vol 2, chap 8, Explosion):

'As you lie here alone, my dear, in the melancholy night, so you must lie somewhere one night, when even I, if I am living then, shall have left you. As I am here beside you, barefoot, unclothed, undistiguishable in darkness, so must I lie through all the night of my decay, until I am dust. In the name of that time, Tom, tell me the truth now!'

What confuses me is that first Louisa seems to be talking of Tom's eventual death and final judgement, then about her own. Louisa is concerned about her brother's eternal soul, I suppose, but her own death will not affect God's judgement on her brother.

Another example (Vol 2, chap 7, Gunpowder):

'Mrs Bounderby, though a graceless person, of the world worldly, I feel the utmose interest, I assure you, in what you tell me. I cannot possibly be hard upon your brother. I understand and share the wise consideration with which you regard his errors. With all possible respect both for Mr Gradgrind and for Mr Bounderby, I think I perceive that he has not been fortunate in his training. Bred at a disadvantage towards the society in which he has to play, he rushes into these extremes for himself, from opposite extremes that have long been forced - with the very best intentions we have no doubt - upon him. Mr Bounderby's fine bluff English independence, though a most charming characteristic, does not - as we have agreed - invite confidence. If I may venture to remark that it is the least in the world deficient in that delicacy to which a youth mistaken, a character misconceived, and abilities misdirected, would turn for relief and guidance, I should express what it presents to my own view.'

The last sentence does not seem grammatical. This is Mr Harthouse speaking. He seems to be a villain of the Alec d'Urberville sort, although a very clever one. If I understood the chapter right, he does not at this stage have definite designs to get into Louisa's knickers, he is just seeing where things go.