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sledding

Bleak House (3)

One of the things that strikes you as you read this novel is the strange names that the characters have.

1. If you're an evil character, there is a much higher chance of you having a strange name than if you're a good character. The novel's heroine, for example, is Esther Summerson; other good characters are named Mr. George, Ada, Jo, and Mr. Jarndyce. But let's look at the villains: Mr. Guppy, Mr. Tulkinghorn, Mrs. Snagsby, Mr. Skimpole. There's Mr. Turveydrop, a master of "deportment" and completely artificial. There's Mrs. Jellyby, who neglects her family to dedicate herself to "good works."

I imagine a comedy skit. The characters are students in a class. The teacher takes roll, pronouncing each student's name in a sort of Monty Python voice. There is canned laughter after each name.

Badger (ha ha hee hee ho ho)
Bucket
Guppy
Jellyby
Krook
Skimpole
Smallweed
Snagsby
Tulkinghorn
Turveydrop


2. When he writes about people talking about people, these are the sort of "dismal alliterations" he uses:

"Everybody on SIr Leicester Dedlock's side of the question, and of his way of thinking, would appear to be his cousin more or less. From my Lord Boodle, through the Duke of Foodle, down to Noodle."

"Chizzle [and] Mizzle ... have lapsed into a habit of vaguely promising themselves that they will look into that outstanding little matter, and see what can be done for Drizzle."

3. The names are sometimes symbolic: a crazy, but kind old lady is called "Mrs. Flite." She keeps birds ... We learn their names from her miserly, hoarding landlord, "Krook": Hope, Joy, Youth, Peace, Rest, Life, Ashes, Waste, Want, Ruin, Despair, Madness, Death, Cunning, Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags, Sheepskin, Plunder, Precedent, Jargon, Gammon, and Spinach. In fact, the edition of the novel that I'm reading has a picture of Mrs. Flite on the cover, with her caged birds. (She can't let them out, because evil Krook has an equally evil cat that is yearning to eat them.)

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sledding

August 2017

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