Illustrated Double-Page to Chap. II

Illustrated Double-Page to Chap. II by John Tenniel. 1848. 12 x 17 cm. Dickens's The Haunted Man, p. 52-53. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Passage Realised

"The gentleman's room," said Tetterby, "is upstairs, sir. There's a more convenient private entrance; but as you have come in here, it will save your going out into the cold, if you'll take this little staircase," showing one communicating directly with the parlour, "and go up to him that way, if you wish to see him."

"Yes, I wish to see him," said the Chemist. "Can you spare a light?"

The watchfulness of his haggard look, and the inexplicable distrust that darkened it, seemed to trouble Mr. Tetterby. He paused; and looking fixedly at him in return, stood for a minute or so, like a man stupefied, or fascinated.

At length he said, "I'll light you, sir, if you'll follow me."

"No," replied the Chemist, "I don't wish to be attended, or announced to him. He does not expect me. I would rather go alone. Please to give me the light, if you can spare it, and I'll find the way."

In the quickness of his expression of this desire, and in taking the candle from the newsman, he touched him on the breast. Withdrawing his hand hastily, almost as though he had wounded him by accident (for he did not know in what part of himself his new power resided, or how it was communicated, or how the manner of its reception varied in different persons), he turned and ascended the stair.

But when he reached the top, he stopped and looked down. The wife was standing in the same place, twisting her ring round and round upon her finger. The husband, with his head bent forward on his breast, was musing heavily and sullenly. The children, still clustering about the mother, gazed timidly after the visitor, and nestled together when they saw him looking down. [Chapter Two: "The Gift Bestowed," p. 81-83]

Details

Commentary

John Tenniel's innovative fusing of two wood-engravings and text serves as an introduction to the introduction of the Tetterby clan and the impending arrival of Professor Redlaw, bearing his dubious "gift" as he mounts the stairs to visit his sick student. Tenniel in this double-plate distinguishes the figure of Redlaw by his broad-brimmed, black hat and long, black cloak. The mood of neither scene is upbeat, as the Phantom spreads the contagion of forgetfulness through his human double.

Although the illustration to the left depicts Mrs. Tetterby and her brood and that to the right Redlaw on the landing outside the student's rented room, the title is technically Illustrated Double-page to Chap. II in the various editions of The Christmas Books, beginning with the single volume of 1848 and continuing right through the various anthologized versions, beginning in 1852.

In this, our first encounter with the domestic characters of the subplot, whom Dickens introduces simultaneously in the text, Chapter II. The Gift Diffused, Tenniel anticipates the domestic theme struck by Leech in the ninth plate, depicting Mrs. Tetterby surrounded by seven of her eight children and her husband (back turned to her, right). In Leech's conception, Mrs. Tetterby will be heavy and middle-aged; here, Tenniel characterizes her as younger and thinner — indeed, one could easily confuse her for Milly Swidger, the young mother whose chold died in infancy. Thus, Dickens's distributing the responsibility for the plates in this manner has created a visual dissonance; furthermore, the text will not fully explicate the two-part scene until almost thirty pages later. This difficulty does not plague any of the subsequent editions, illustrated individual rather than corporately by Sol Eytinge, Jr. in 1867 for the Diamond Edition's Christmas Books, E. A. Abbey for the Harper and Brothers Christmas Stories of 1876, Fred Barnard for the Chapman and Hall Household Edition of Christmas Books (1878), and the Harry Furniss Charles Dickens Library Edition of Christmas Books in 1910.

Chapter II. The Gift Diffused to the right involves a three-quarter-page vignette right, again accompanied by printed text, on page 53. Heavily muffled and eigmatic, Redlaw, on the landing of the staircase, protects the flame of the candle he has just borrowed. Mysterious shadows in both plates are significant in that they suggest the doubt and despair connected to Redlaw's double, of whose presence The shadow reminds us. Redlaw's shadow points us back to the shadows cast by the story-telling mother and her children in Illustrated Page to Chap. I, while Redlaw himself seems to point forward, towards the student's room and the textual version of the companion plates. The overall effect of the cloak and the shadows, augmented by Redlaw's gesture, propels the reader into the second chapter of the novella.

References

Cohen, Jane Rabb. "John Leech." Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio U. P., 1980. Pp. 141-151.

Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. Il. John Leech, John Tenniel, Frank Stone, and Clarkson Stanfield. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848.

Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books. Il. Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.

Dickens, Charles. The Christmas Books. Il. Harry Furniss. Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. Vol. 8.

Dickens, Charles. The Christmas Books. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 16 vols. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Il. E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.

Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.




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Last modified 7 August 2013