Weeks 5 and 6: In Sickness and Acquittal

Firstly I love the image of money being stowed away in worm-eaten drawers at the bank.  I think it’s a rare thing now for people to carry cash and I like the idea of people gong to get it and put it into a dusty bank where everything is old and dark and it seems like the whole experience might encourage you to save rather than spend.

Mr Cruncher doesn’t seem to have much money and maybe seeing the daily interactions at the bank has gone some way to fueling his paranoia and depression of having little money.  His house is kept clean, presumably by his wife, and yet he is convinced that she is praying against him and this will have financial consequences for him.

He does get a job though, as a messenger for Mr Lorry, who we last saw five years ago.

The description of the prison as a breeding ground for diseases is very vivid and believable.  In some ways it reminds me of modern reporting of outbreaks within hospitals and in some ways the sprinkling of herbs and vinegar on the floors seems as futile as the containers of antibacterial hand-gel every three feet.

Narrating the trial from Mr Cruncher’s point of view is good as this way we don’t know anything about it other than that the crime is treason.  This builds up suspense which is enhanced by the questioning of the other character and Mr Cruncher’s responses that he is “blest if [he] knows”.

The narration of the trial is very realistic and is probably based on Dickens’ experience of working as a Court notetaker.

I also enjoyed the repeated mentions of patriotism which I found ironic to have been in this week’s part when we have had the Jubilee celebrations.

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5 thoughts on “Weeks 5 and 6: In Sickness and Acquittal

  1. The significance of Jerry as narrator hasn’t really been commented on yet. You’re right, it allows, if not an objective account of proceedings, then at the very least the point of view of the newcomer, or the crowd, rather than that of the Manettes or others who have their own sympathies and allegiances pre-determined before the session in court begins. Plus it’s also a good opportunity for Dickens to go into irony-overdrive with several impassioned phrased that profess one opinion of a person while communicating the opposite to the reader. I guess DIckens is trying to show how the crowd gets caught up and turned around by the orations of the court, and shows the dangers of the mob compared to the more rational reaction of an individual.

    • I think it’s definitely inspired by Dickens’ own work at Court. It reminded me very much of the Doctors’ Commons scenes in David Copperfield.

  2. I love your comment about the money hidden away in the bank, Donna. In an era of international finance, corporate banking and the flow of credit and capital (already explored in Little Dorrit), perhaps Dickens is saying something about capitalism as a sham in which the real (banknotes) is replaced by the imaginary (credit). Here, Dickens offers a sly, almost Biblical comment on the return of all material things to dust and the illusoriness of human enterprise. It’s interesting that the bank and the prison are almost comparable, as well. As in Little Dorrit, the characters in TOTC are imprisoned in their own way, whether physically or psychologically.

    • I haven’t read Little Dorrit but I agree with your point about capitalism. I think Dickens was very anti-capitalist and often commented on the social financial situations in his novels.

  3. I like the point about the particular resonance of the patriotism references in this time of excess of bunting Donna. Perhaps these things stand out more when we’re reading/viewing serially. I should admit that I’m inspired in this idea by Linda Hughes and Michael Lund who talk about ‘serial time’, seasonality and the overlapping rhythms of serials and life. Immediately after the BBC Bleak House, with all it’s dispossessed children, a few years ago, channel 4 had a programme called ‘Wanted: New Mum and Dad’ – a great serendipity of scheduling I thought! I like the way that such overlays make us really aware of how our readings inter-relate and are contingent on all our other reading and experience.

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