Drew, March 13, 2007 (view all comments by Drew)
This is a novel in the prototypical Dickens style; well-drawn characters you identify with and action you feel a part of, although it is true that in Little Dorrit the reader is not so completely absorbed into the world Dickens creates, the way one is in The Pickwick Papers or David Copperfield. This is probably due to what many critics note as Dickens over-sentimental characters in this work. And this criticism is merited; Little Dorrit is one of literature's great caricatures of selfless suffering, to the point it is hard to identify with her. She comes across as so sweet and giving and uncomplaining that she ends up feeling, well, weak. The reader cannot help but side with her, try to relate to her, but inevitably almost end up hating her. The object of Dorrit's endless and thoughtless sacrifice is her father, an inmate of the Marshalsea debtor's prison, who manages to spend decades locked up almost without noticing due to Dorrit's supplying of his every need. His blind acceptance of the spoils of Dorrit's lost childhood as his rightful due definitely makes you hate him, although he is actually one of the work's protagonists. Obviously it is a complicated work, and worth the read for any Dickens lover, though I would not suggest it be the first Dickens work one reads.
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