Dickens and Dandyism: Masking Interiority

Juliet John

in Dickens's Villains

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780198184614
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191714214 | DOI:
Dickens and Dandyism: Masking Interiority

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This chapter discusses Dickens and the concept of dandyism. It focuses on gentlemen when they are villains, although a villain cannot be a true gentleman in Dickens's writings. For Dickens, a gentleman stops being a gentleman when the appearance of gentility is more important than the moral elevation that should ideally characterise the gentleman. He becomes a villain when gentility ceases to be an end in itself and becomes the means to attain power, status, and money; thus, the means to gratify the self. Dickens's dandies suggest that manners and morals are not always synonymous, and that a gentleman on the outside may not be a gentleman on the inside. The dandy is ideally a passionless person, an actor to the core. His recurrence in Dickens's fiction suggests Dickens's fascination with the possibility of a selfless human being, and his concern about the larger causes and effects of dandyism.

Keywords: Charles Dickens; dandyism; villains; gentility; manners; morals; gentleman

Chapter.  12342 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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