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Title: France and the French in the novels of Charles Dickens
Author: Woods, Claire Estelle
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 114X
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2016
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his thesis investigates Dickens’s views on France and the French, and considers why the London-centric novelist chose to include French characters, settings and references in three of his mid-career novels. Many biographical writers have turned their attention to Dickens as a Francophile, and frequent visitor to France. However it seems that few literary critics have addressed the question of why Dickens, as a patriotic Englishman, should write about aspects of French culture. What was it about the French nation that led Dickens to include them at this point in his writing career? This thesis includes analysis of character, context, setting, language and imagery in three novels. Bleak House, Little Dorrit and a tale of two cities, In Bleak House, Paris is described as a place of diversion; French fashions and tastes are vividly described, and Lady Dedlock’s French maid Flortense is of significant importance to the plot. In Little Dorril, the plot takes the story from Marseilles through the Alps to Chalons-sur-Saone and on to Calais. The reader is introduced to the channel-hopping, French-speaking, former convict, Rigaud or Blandois. In A Tale o f Two Cities, revolutionary Paris overshadows the streets of Soho as Dickens brings to life the residents of Saint Antoine and the French aristocracy. Once the relevant textual and contextual materials have been considered, Dickens’s ambivalent perspective of the French is profoundly striking. Whilst he admires the elegance and culture of the French, he simultaneously reveals a deep-rooted fear of revolutionary fervour. For Dickens, the French nation is defined by its revolutionary bloodshed, in the late 1700s, and 1800s. It is this fear of bloody insurrection which causes him to call upon French characters, settings and themes, in order that they may serve as an arresting warning to the nonchalant ruling classes of Britain in the 1850s.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available