Chapter

<i>Treating the Melancholic of</i> Our Mutual Friend

Janice Carlisle

in Common Scents

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780195165098
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199787685 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195165098.003.0005
 Treating the Melancholic of Our Mutual Friend

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In John Harmon, one of the heroes of Our Mutual Friend, Dickens creates the supreme melancholic of the 1860s. A woman's readiness to assuage Harmon's suffering is ultimately less efficacious than the opportunities that the plot gives him to embody the physical strength conventionally associated with working-class men. The comparative encounters depicted in this novel therefore prepare the way for an unexpected exchange of values. The over thirty smells represented in Our Mutual Friend establish not only Harmon's initial insubstantiality, but also Dickens' attempt to turn away from the values usually associated with manufacture by failing to represent the creation of commodities and by portraying work, even the work of carting trash into dust heaps, as inodorate.

Keywords: commodities; Dickens; insubstantiality; melancholia; odors; production; property; trade; work

Chapter.  16544 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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