Upon William Dorrit's release, the family instantly leaves England and begins travels on the Continent, beginning in Switzerland before landing in Italy. Despite the picturesque views of the Italian countryside, Amy (Little Dorrit) feels out of place and her vision is distorted by the unfamiliarity of her surrounding. While everyone in her family embraces their new-found wealth, Amy is reluctant to give up her old, tattered clothing in exchange for a new extravagant life style. A lifestyle of pomp and circumstance is not to Amy's liking. She, like Eva in Uncle Tom's Cabin, is drawn to the ugly things in life.
Amy avoids the beautiful and gravitates to the ugly. Born in prison, Amy has always lived in an ugly situation. In such an environment, she feels comfortable because she has learned how to be a light in the midst of darkness, a balm in the midst of pain.
In an atmosphere free from suffering and work to do for others, Amy has an identity crisis.
Amy knows how to comfort others but finds no comfort abroad while surrounded by serenity. In this new environment, Amy has no function to perform. A peaceful world is a dream world that Amy has never experienced. She was born into a depressing state and functions best in grotesque circumstances. The magnificence of Rome is foreign territory to her in more than one sense, territory to which she struggles to adapt.