Rogue Riderhood and Miss Pleasant at Home
Illustration for Book 2, chapter 12, of Dickens's Our Mutual Friend in the Lee & Shepard (Boston), and Charles T. Dillingham (New York) 1870 Illustrated Household Edition.
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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This illustration for "More Birds of Prey" continues the narrative-pictorial sequence involving the Thames watermen Gaffer Hexam and Rogue Riderhood, last depicted in the fourth woodcut, "The Six Jolly Fellowship-Porters." Comparing the two two illustrations, the viewer concludes — based on the distinctive facial features with which Eytinge has realized and individualized the surly character — that Riderhood is the square-headed fellow wearing the cloth cap. The postures and juxtapositions of Riderhood and Miss Pleasant imply that he is another misogynistic alcoholic of the Jerry Cruncher variety in terms of his domestic establishment. Riderhood menaces his long-suffering daughter with a boot raised in his left hand as he clutches a bottle recently acquired from his just departed visitor (in fact, John Harmon in disguise) in his right as Pleasant puts her hands to her head, apparently covering her ears to protect herself from the inevitable beating. Eytinge telegraphs the nature of the father-daughter relationship much more effectively than Marcus Stone in the equivalent illustration for the very same chapter in his series of forty, "Miss Riderhood at Home," which originally accompanied the ninth monthly part (January 1865).
A decidedly unsavoury character with a squinting leer, Rogue Riderhood has probably been robbing the bodies living as well as dead that he fishes up from the Thames. Subsequently foiled in his hopes of blaming Gaffer Hexam for his supposed role in the death of John Harmon (and thereby rendering himself eligible to claim the reward posted by Boffin), Riderhood vents his ill-temper on his adult daughter, Pleasant, "an unlicensed pawnbroker" (219) who runs a "Leaving Shop." Although neither illustrator captures the "swivel eye" that she has inherited from her father, both Marcus Stone and Sol Eytinge convey her anxious nature, if not her "meagre, . . . muddy complexion." Chapter 12 of Book Two is the first occasion in which Dickens focuses on the Riderhoods, and both illustrations are positioned so that one has encountered them at some length in the text before encountering them in the visual medium. Stone does a better job of realizing in its details the setting of the scene, the parlour of Riderhood's unappealing residence in Limehouse Hole, the Dalziel plate of the Chapman and Hall edition giving us the hearth with a kettle on the boil, the laundry line and ironing board, and Pleasant's ample apron and numerous hats. The Eytinge illustration better conveys her sense of domesticity as quarreling and fighting, and her father's frequently verbally and physically abusing her. Her terrified pose well suggests that she has been brought up to expect that paternal duty amounts to "a fist or a leathern strap, . . . being discharged to hurt her" (220). Since her hair is constantly falling out of its "ragged knot," Stone logically depicts her as having to adjust it ("winding herself up with both hands") before she can proceed with her ironing and continue her "Poll Parroting" with nautical visitor, while Eytinge conflates that action with a much later scene involving her father's throwing one of a pair of sea-boots at her at the very close of the chapter, after the stranger's departure:
Therefore, not to be remiss in his duty as a father, he threw a pair of sea-boots at Pleasant, which she ducked to avoid, and then cried, poor thing, using her hair for a pocket-handkerchief. 
Stone has captured instead a single moment much earlier in the twelfth chapter of Book 2, when Pleasant adjusts her hair as the seafaring stranger with the strangely soft hands takes a seat by the fire, before her father returns home from the river:
The conversation had arrived at a crisis to justify Miss Pleasant's hair in tumbling down. It tumbled down accordingly, and she twisted it up, looking from under her bent forehead at the man. 
Last modified 10 November 2010