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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Imprisonment in Little Dorrit, Part Two

Tattycoram feels she is imprisoned as a part of the Meagles household, only to learn true subjugation when she runs away to live with Miss Wade.  Adopted by the Meagles to serve as a maid to their daughter Pet, Tattycoram feels jealous of the attention Pet receives, forgetting the attention she herself receives.  Tattycoram's past of neglect and abandonment fuels her anger and fear of a similar future, though she acknowledges that she knows that the Meagles are good to her.  Miss Wade preys on the vulnerable Tattycoram, possibly as a love interest, and strengthens the cords of her imprisonment by making "Harriet" (her given name) totally dependent on her.  Tattycoram misses the Meagles, visiting their residence in their absences and eventually returns to them.

Miss Wade herself is imprisoned by her past, in which she was an orphan.  As a result, she seeks to control everyone she grows close to.  As a young girl, she suspects her peers are only nice to her because she is an orphan and she rejects their benevolent condescension.  She becomes upset when her one true friend makes friends with others.  She becomes engaged to a young man and provokes him to jealousy by flirting with Henry Gowan, later ending the engagement though nothing developed with Gowan.  She uses a similar past of uncertain birth to attract Tattycoram, only to make the life of the latter more miserable than previously perceived.  Miss Wade's past prevents her from developing proper relationships with others.

The residents of Bleeding Heart Yard are unknowingly imprisoned by Mr. Casby, their landlord.  BHY is a poor area of London in which live the Plornish's, a hard-working and honest, though impoverish family.  Casby hires Pancks to collect the rents, which causes the latter to be viewed as the antagonist of the residents while Casby is envisioned as philanthropic .  Pancks bleeds the residents of their money, though Casby pushes him to bleed them further, being unsatisfied with the results.  Casby knows but ignores the poverty of his tenants and only concerns himself with obtaining more money.

Almost all of society is imprisoned by the Barnacles, who run the Circumlocution Office.  Controlling the country through a hereditary oligarchy of sorts, the Barnacles prevent anything of significance from happening in the country.  Through exaggerated bureaucratic means, they follow the philosophy "How not to do it" in their governance.  As a result, society is prevented from making any progress, which is portrayed in the case of Doyce being denied for no reason a patent for his inventions.  Only Merdle is too rich to be under their control.

Ironically, Little Dorrit is imprisoned by the society outside of the walls of the Marshalsea.  She was born and grew up in the prison and she understand the role she is expected to perform there.  Nevertheless, once Mr. Dorrit receives his freedom and wealth, Little Dorrit no longer knows how to function in her family or in society.  She does not want to give up her old, tattered clothing and often has dreams of her days at the Marshalsea.  She cannot function in a false society and finds comfort when Clennam goes to jail and she can return to the role she once performed for her father.   She is only able to leave in peace when she leaves with Clennam.

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