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Tuesday, April 24 • 10:15am - 10:35am
"The Fog Is Very Dense, Indeed:" Oppressive Forces In Charles Dickens's Bleak House

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The Court of Chancery in Charles Dickens’ 1853 novel Bleak House is an omnipresent and malicious force whose presence is felt in every aspect of the novel. The literal fog that Dickens uses to represent its malignant influence is spread thickly over London throughout the novel, and the court’s methods of enforcing its status are varied and incredibly powerful. The characters in the novel all struggle against these forces that the court employs, to varying degrees of individual success, but no matter their personal victories or failures the court is left utterly untouched, its influence as powerful as ever. The court’s web of influence encompasses almost the whole world of the novel, and virtually all of the characters are tied to it in some way—and the court, throughout, uses the forces under its control to strictly enforce the class divisions that are required for its continued power. As the fog of the court spreads, however, the people oppressed by these forces are blinded to their true nature. I will address how these forces, in particular the Detective force, are cast as morally pure institutions whose purpose is to provide validation for the Court system, while also enforcing the strict class segregation that is required for the Court to retain its power.

Tuesday April 24, 2018 10:15am - 10:35am PDT
232 Karpen Hall