decorated initial 'B'oth Tennyson and Dickens align the city or town with the public and the countryside with the private. In the passage, the narrator moves from the noisy town to the woods: “I wandered from the noisy town,/ I found a wood with thorny boughs". He also says “They called me in the public squares/ The fool that wears a crown of thorns". The phrase shows the public's hostility towards the narrator. Wemmick's relation to his office, situated in the city, and home, located in the country, highlights a similar alignment of city with public and country with private: “the office is one thing, and private life is another. When I go into office, I leave the Castle behind me, and when I come into the Castle, I leave the office behind me." (ch.25). The movement from public to private impacts Wemmick negatively. As he proceeds from his house towards the city, he “got dryer and harder" (ch. 25), as if protecting himself from the public. Both Tennyson and Dickens paint a hostile picture of the public.

The contrast between the city and country and the public and private argues that society impairs the individual. This theme runs throughout Great Expectations, for once Pip leaves his home, his value system changes to a more material one, causing him to neglect Joe, the person who really cares about him, thus showing the negative influence of the public on Pip. The same society also rewards Compeyson, who has a more elevated position in society than Magwitch, with a less severe punishment though they committed the same crime. The narrator of In Memoriam also suffers because of society: “They called me fool, they called me child."


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens Great Expectations In Memoriam

Last modified 1996