The Dorrit Brothers in the 

The Dorrit Brothers in the Marshalsea by Harry Furniss. 1910. 9.6 x 15 cm. Dickens's Little Dorrit, The Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), facing XII, 224. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]

Passage Illustrated

The brothers William and Frederick Dorrit, walking up and down the College-yard — of course on the aristocratic or Pump side, for the Father made it a point of his state to be chary of going among his children on the Poor side, except on Sunday mornings, Christmas Days, and other occasions of ceremony, in the observance whereof he was very punctual, and at which times he laid his hand upon the heads of their infants, and blessed those young insolvents with a benignity that was highly edifying — the brothers, walking up and down the College-yard together, were a memorable sight. Frederick the free, was so humbled, bowed, withered, and faded; William the bond, was so courtly, condescending, and benevolently conscious of a position; that in this regard only, if in no other, the brothers were a spectacle to wonder at.[Book the First, "Poverty," Chapter 19, "The Father of The Marshalsea in Two or Three Relations," 229: the picture's original caption has been emphasized]


Furniss's re-interpretation of the Dorrit brothers in the scenes leading up to William Dorrit's apotheosis is based less on both Mahoney's scene of the exiting procession in Marshalsea yard, Through these spectators, the little procession, headed by the two brothers, moved slowly to the gate (see below: Book One, Chapter 36) and more on the Phiz original, The Brothers for Book 1, Ch. 19. Avoiding the same scene of departure drafted so effectively by Phiz and redrafted by James Mahoney to focus on the contrasting figures of the brothers, Furniss sets the Dorrit brothers against a detailed backdrop of the College Yard and in the context of purposeless, tawdry insolvent debtors, still attempting to dress as members of the middle class, but clearly lacking bourgeois work ethic and sense of propriety. Furniss lavishes his attention and satirical pen upon those who gave the place its unsavoury reputation. The elder Dorrit, knowledgable about the place and its inmates, acts as his brother Frederick tour-guide, pointing out features of the Marshalsea and various characters with interesting backgrounds. All the figures in the scene are charged with Furniss's powers of humourous observation and kinetic energy, and yet all are caricatures in contrast to Mahoney's quiet, almost mundane realism.

Related Materials: Background, Setting, Theme, and Characterization

Other Illustrations, 1855-1923

The Dorrits in the original, American Household, and Diamond Editions, 1855-1867

Left: F. O. C. Darley's 1863 frontispiece of the scene in which William Dorrit learns of his providential inheritance, Joyful Tidings (Volume 2). Centre: Phiz's original serial illustration The Marshalsea becomes an orphan for Book 1, Ch. 36 (Part 10, September 1856), in which the Father of the Marshalsea triumphantly conducts his family through the central courtyard and off to freedom (stage right). Right: Sol Eytinge, Junior's interpretation of the musical younger brother, Amy's uncle, Frederick Dorrit (1867).

Above: Hablot Knight Browne's first view of the prison's exercise yard, The Brothers (May 1856: Part 6).

Above: James Mahoney's revision of Phiz's steel engraving in which the focus is the Dorrit brothers rather than the crowd, Through these spectators, the little procession, headed by the two brothers, moved slowly to the gate, Book One, Ch. 36 (1873).

Scanned images and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]


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Created 19 March 2016

Last modified 23 January 2020