Dickens Update #15; Book 2: Issue 12

At the beginning of Chapter V, Something Wrong Somewhere, the Dorrits have been in Venice for “a month or two”. Mr. Dorrit has a chat with Mrs. General about Amy and Amy is sent for. She tells them she needs more time to feel at home in her new circumstances. Mrs. General corrects Amy on the use of the word “father”: the correct word being “Papa”. Father is considered “vulgar, my dear.” Dorrit tells Amy he is not pleased with her and Amy realizes that her father can never “overcome that quarter of a century behind the prison bars.” Amy, of, course, shows all the wisdom and awareness of a parent while Dorrit acts the role of child. Amy does not reproach her father. She does ask if she may go and visit Mr. and Mrs. Gowan who have now returned to Venice. Edward-Tip reveals connections between the Gowans and the Merdles making the Gowans socially acceptable so Amy is allowed to visit. Fred berates his brother and his niece Fanny: “I protest against any one of us here who have known what we have known, and have seem what we have seen, setting up any pretension that puts Amy at a moment’s disadvantage, or to the cost of a moment’s pain.” Fred exits and Fanny and Papa Dorrit try to come to terms with their guilt. Dickens leaves it to his reader to make her’his own conclusions regarding their way of dealing with that guilt.

In Chapter VI, Something Right Somewhere, Dickens lets us know how Minnie Gowan sees her marriage: “From the days of their honeymoon, Minnie Gowan felt sensible of being usually regarded as the wife of a man who had made a descent in marrying her, but whose chivalrous love for her had cancelled that inequality.” Blandois had accompanied the Gowans to Venice and Gowan encouraged Blandois to oppose his wife and made him his companion. Fanny accompanies Amy to visit Mrs. Gowan and Minnie takes them to Gowan’s studio.Instinct stronger than training Bk2 ChVI p508 Blandois was in the studio : he is modelling for Gowan. Blandois provokes the dog, Lion, in the studio and Henry tells Blandois to get out. (see picture to right). He leaves but Henry then attacked the dog, kicking him with his boot heel. Minnie is disturbed. Gowan strikes the dog several additional times. Amy protests. She is not impressed with Gowan’s behaviour nor by Fanny’s flirtation on the gondola ride home with young Mr. Sparkler. Fanny makes her intentions with regard to Sparkler clear to Amy. Back at the palace door, Sparkler stands up with his card case  and his boat collides Mr. Sparkler Bk2ChVIp516with that of the two women so “as to tip that gentleman over like a large species of ninepin, and cause him to exhibit the soles of his shoes to the object of his dearest wishes.” (see picture to the right)  Fanny takes Sparkler to meet her Papa and S. is invited back for dinner and to go to the opera.  Papa Dorrit thinks he will engage Gowan to paint his portrait.  After the opera, Blandois tells them Gowan’s dog is dead/poisoned: he reports this during a sinister appearance at the box-door of the opera. The suspense thickens regarding Blandois and what he is about.

In Chapter VII, Mostly, Prunes and Prism, Fanny tells Amy that Mrs. General has “designs” on their father/papa. Fanny believes “he is ready to get himself into a state of perfect infatuation with her at any moment.” And more than that! Fanny says she herself would marry Mr. Sparkler before she would accept Mrs. General for a Mama! Mr. Dorrit engages Gowan to paint his portrait and Gowan says he will do it in Rome. Amy quietly observes the fate that has fallen on Mrs. Gowan and also realizes she has an ally in her dislike of Blandois. Amy thinks Blandois gained access to her father’s house much too easily. Amy compares society abroad to that of the Marshalsea and, of course, this is Dickens getting in his political commentary again. The family goes to Rome and Amy experiences another layer of society in which no one has an opinion of their own.  Mrs. Merdle calls and mr. Dorrit tells her how much he wishes to meet Mr. Merdle. Little Dorrit/Amy is now interested in meeting Mr. Merdle as her father appears to want advice from him about his fortune. So now we too want to witness the meeting of these two men. Our interest is piqued in several directions as Dickens closes out Issue 12.