Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/11571
"I don’t know nothink." Double standards and dual narration in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House
Charles Dickens used his novel Bleak House to touch on unconnected topics concerning urban poverty and how society mistreated children, and to bring out the double standards in society in the Victorian era. London was foggy and muddy and
large crowds of people lived under terrible conditions in slum houses in his era. The novel is written from dual viewpoints, with a double narration. One of the narrators is Esther Summerson, the heroine of the novel, and the other is an
anonymous masculine voice. Dickens attacks corruption in society, including the legal system, the church and telescopic philanthropy groups focusing on foreign missions instead of looking inwards and helping the needy close at home. He
wanted to see improvements in sanitation, education, and government as well as in the legal profession. The characters of the novel, both good and bad characters,interact with each other in several ways. The main character, and one of the
narrators, is an illegitimate child brought up in the notion that she is a disgrace, but as her story goes on we learn how she used her life to care for people around her who needed care and advice. Her mother, Lady Dedlock, plays a large role in the
novel as a woman having a love affair and giving birth to a child out of wedlock. In the end she pays for her sin with death, which raises the question of social decay in the novel.
The question of a feminist perspective is also raised in the novel as most of the female characters play different roles from what was normal in society at that time. They are strong and independent women who have careers and there are several examples in the novel where it is women who are in control.