'Little Dorrit': Some Visions of Pastoral

Simon Petch


The major concern of Little Dorrit is brought into sharp focus by Mrs Merdle when she informs Amy and Fanny Dorrit: "we are not in a natural state. Much to be lamented, no doubt particularly by myself, who am a child of nature if I could but show it-but so it is. Society suppresses and dominates us." The natural is indeed suppressed and dominated by Society in much of the novel, and the opposition of nature and society is fundamental. Mrs Merdle speaks authoritatively for many of the characters, yet as Dickens' ironic humour here actually suggests, nature is by no means wholly suppressed in Little Dorrit.

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