Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Court, Franklin E., 1939-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Dickens; Charles; 1812-1870--Knowledge and learning--Law; Dickens; Charles; 1812-1870--Criticism and interpretation; Authors; English--19th century--Biography


My intention in this study is to accomplish through my examination of Dickens and the legal system what Collins accomplished in Dickens and Crime. I wish to relate Dickens' references to the British legal system in his major fiction to his personality and to events and ideas that characterize his age. Toward that end, each chapter is structured around (a) brief biographical material, (b) identification and description of the salient parts of the novels supplemented by cultural and contextual explanations, and (c) critical analysis. The first section of each chapter, the biographical material, is provided partly to help situate Dickens' life in the context of each novel and partly also to illuminate Dickens' own dealings with the legal system, dealings that informed his fiction. The second section is intended both to identify which parts of his novels deal with the legal system and to provide a background for the cultural context in which Dickens was writing as it pertained to specific elements of the legal system. Lastly, the section of critical analysis incorporates some of the consensus opinions regarding Dickens' intent in depicting the legal system, and it then attempts to extend those discussions in order to trace his developing attitude over the course of his entire career. For while Dickens wrote extensively on the legal system (nary a novel escapes at least some mention) and numerous critical studies extant exist, none prior to this study provides a chronological survey of Dickens' treatment of the legal system in all of his novels. My aim here is simply to isolate Dickens' writings on the legal system, to provide key and diverse critical opinions, and to help readers to better understand the evolution of Dickens' feelings about the legal system.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [325]-335).


[vii], 335 pages




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