Dickens, Acting, and Ambivalence: Periodical Passions

Juliet John

in Dickens's Villains

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780198184614
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191714214 | DOI:
Dickens, Acting, and Ambivalence: Periodical Passions

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


Show Summary Details


This chapter discusses Dickens, acting, and ambivalence in relation to periodical passions. Dickens's thoughts on villainy are in no way simplistically schematic, or even consistent. Throughout his journalistic commentary on contemporary criminals, his writings on the theatre, and his novels, the dialectic between passionate and passionless villainy anchors Dickens's perceptions of deviance. This chapter juxtaposes the observation made in Dickens's journals on the criminals of the day with his commentary on the contemporary stage and its villains in order to explore the anxieties shadowing Dickens's ideal vision of the melodramatic mode. Dickens's anxieties about theatricality in its various modes are explicitly voiced in his journalism. In his novels, ideologies are often implicitly dramatised. To Dickens, social performance could violate the principles of transparency and communality that melodramatic models of identity uphold, while stage performance provided him with his most rewarding experiences of the melodramatic mode.

Keywords: Charles Dickens; acting; villainy; melodrama; melodramatic mode; social performance; stage performance

Chapter.  9420 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or purchase to access all content.