Thursday, February 11, 2021

"Strange, bewildered, and confused": The shock of industrialization in Charles Dickens's "The Old Curiosity Shop"

In Charles Dickens's "The Old Curiosity Shop", when Nell Trent and her grandfather leave the barge that has taken them so far on their wanderings and find themselves on "a crowded street" in an unfamiliar, industrial city, they stand "in the pouring rain, as strange, bewildered, and confused, as if they had lived a thousand years before, and were raised from the dead and placed there by a miracle." Even though it was in London, the microcosm of the grandfather's "old curiosity shop" kept them so far from the "din and tumult" of industry that, despite their subsequent impoverishment, they are estranged from this world that leaves them "bewildered and confused". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 11 February 2021)

Thomas Creswick, Distant view of Birmingham (1828).

No comments: