Week 9: Posh Cattle Market

The first thing that really struck me about this part was the remedies for imaginary illnesses.  I believe a lot of medicine is “blagged” even now; it’s typical of Dickens to point out people’s making money by creating things to suit their purpose, especially as this was how he made his own money.

I love the image of the men walking around with pendants jingling like cows with bells on.  Wealth can only be relevant if you’re showing it to other people and it is a double image of their wearing jewellery and the jewellery itself drawing attention to them.

The carriage rattling through the streets is a nice contrast with the tinkling jewellery and adds a lot of atmosphere to the scene.  This makes the contemptuous chucking of a gold coin as compensation for killing a child even more harrowing.  It is then brought round again in a nice circle with the jingle of the coin hitting the carriage floor.

The crowd of rich cows is then contrasted with the crowd of poor sheep in the country.  This is interesting in that both animals are used for meat and to make clothing.  Therefore when it boils down to it, neither is more useful than the other.

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One thought on “Week 9: Posh Cattle Market

  1. I hadn’t noticed all these interlinking sounds, so thanks for this wonderful post, Donna. I’ve never really thought about we might venture to call the novel’s ‘soundscape’, but it seems evident from the connections you have unearthed that Dickens intended to create meaning through these associated sounds. It’s especially fascinating, I think, because we don’t usually ‘listen’ to a novel nowadays, whereas Dickens’s age was one of reading aloud, reading groups and, of course, public readings. Perhaps the original readers would have been more alert to sounds within the novel? I think I might listen to the instalment using DJO’s text-to-speech feature to see how these sounds come across. Also, examples such as this perhaps lend further credence to the idea, put forward most persuasively by Grahame Smith, that Dickens ‘dreamed’ of cinema. Reading your examples, we can almost imagine the confluence of image and sound to create meaning.

    The image of the poor sheep you draw attention to has made me also think of the Christian image of Christ as shepherd, guiding his flock and returning the errant to the fold.

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