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D. A. Koss ‘Then, began one of those extraordinary scenes with which the populace sometimes gratified their fickleness, or their better impulses towards generosity and mercy, or which they regarded as some set-o


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D.A. Koss

‘Then, began one of those extraordinary scenes with which the populace sometimes gratified their fickleness, or their better impulses towards generosity and mercy, or which they regarded as some set-off against their swollen account of cruel rage. No man can decide now to which of these motives such extraordinary scenes were referable; it is probable, to a blending of all the three, with the second predominating.’ (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 3, Ch. VI)1



How far do Dickens’s ambivalent views about the behaviour of politicized crowds, or the ‘populace’, illuminate his thematic concerns in a A Tale of Two Cities, and its possible origins in his anxieties about the ‘Indian Mutiny’?
Who were they? The barbarous Pirates, scum of all nations, headed by such men as the hideous little Portuguese monkey, and the one-eyed English convict with the gash across his face, that ought to have gashed his wicked head off? [...] The howling, murdering, black-flag waving, mad, and drunken crowd of devils that had overcome us by numbers and by treachery?

Charles Dickens, ‘The Perils of Certain English Prisoners’2


I. Although the imperial context of ‘The Perils’, the Christmas story Dickens co-authored with Willkie Collins, has been convincingly and painstakingly reconstructed by critics such as Oddie, Brantlinger, Tambling, Nayder and Peters, and with particular reference to the ‘traumatic’ events of 1857 in India,3 similar historically-minded attempts at demonstrating that A Tale of Two Cities forms part of the ‘corpus of the Mutiny novels’4 have so far failed to generate structurally homologous critical frameworks. Thus, for instance, Priti Joshi,5 contrasting Patrick Brantlinger’s point-blank refusal to diagnose any intent, on Dickens’s part, to draw a parallel between the ‘mutinous sepoys’ and the ‘oppressed’ French populace6 with Grace Moore’s eager adoption of precisely such an interpretive schema,7 considers as unavailing the search for such ‘family resemblances’, especially in view of Dickens’s wish, as expressed, a fortiori, regarding the ‘Perils’, ‘not to be read topically’.

In particular, Joshi argues8 that, while, according to Moore, the novel supposedly enacts a ‘fusion of the French Revolution with British working-class unrest and the sepoy rebellion’, and, consequently, posits a chain of equivalences between ancient régime corruption, the ‘unchecked nepotism and brutality’ of (pre-mutiny) Company rule, and the excess of ‘retributive justice’9 visited upon the Indian masses during the quelling of the rebellion— ‘indicating thereby Dickens’s sympathy with Indians’—, at the same time, Moore contends rather incoherently that, by the end of the novel, Miss Pross has become ‘a representative of Anglo-Indian womanhood in its entirety’ (apparently, a masculinized version of Marion Maryon of ‘The Perils’, amalgamating, in her character, [‘stained-glass madonna’-like10] ‘fragility11’ (!) with the resoluteness of the ‘female analogue to the imperial power’ now readily capable of ‘resisting any would-be attacker’),12—which would, arguably, suggest Dickens’s taking sides with the Anglo-Indians.13



II. Having thus indicated the difficulty involved in applying the notion that a specific historical conjuncture may somehow be ‘conformally transformed’ into the novel’s structure,14 I wish to return to Joshi’s tentative reconstruction of Dickens’s ‘expressed’ intention15 with regard to the composition of ‘The Perils’. While ostensibly elaborating on Oddie’s conjecture that ‘behind the fevered intensity of Dickens’s evocations of French atrocities [in A Tale] must lie’ not only a deep-rooted aversion to mob-rule,16 but also ‘the novelist’s feelings about the terrible events of 1857’,17 and proposing an alternative construction whereby the Mutiny is seen as the precipitating factor (or ‘animating’ force) accounting for the novel’s overall conception,18 Joshi essentially depicts Dickens as being successfully interpellated into what Laura Peters has called ‘the dual role of imperial author and imperial editor [for HW and AYR]’.19 Indeed, both critics, working with partially overlapping subsets of Dickens’s texts, and with Joshi focusing mainly on the Tale,20 detect an overarching concern on the novelist’s part which far exceeds the perceptions of threat and resulting anxieties evinced in contemporary public responses to the events in India:21 according to Peters and Joshi, the ambitious project to which Dickens devoted his attention around this time was one of consolidation of ‘British national identity’ and imperial hegemony through the mythic reassertion of ‘heroic and chivalrous’ masculinity and through the ‘identification of the enemy’ in an unambiguous form, i.e. that of the racial other.22

Although this last claim is tenable and indeed Peters not only convincingly reconstructs the intertextual dimension of Dickens’s ‘literary and editorial practice’ with reference to contemporary ‘media coverage’ of the events, and in particular the publication of ‘survivor’ narratives in the Illustrated London News, roughly coinciding with the period of the short story’s gestation, but associates this area of ‘errant’ excess23 in Dickens’s response with a widely shared concern that the whole British empire might soon be engulfed in rebellion24 (—which probably accounts for the description of the ‘gang of pirates’ in ‘The Perils’ as comprising the ‘scum of all nations’25), nevertheless, following Nayder, I want to add to this account what I consider to a be significant qualification, at least for the purposes of this paper. Thus, Nayder, introducing a slight displacement in the schema discussed so far, argues that if ‘the representation of class revolution in A Tale of Two Cities is informed by the sepoy revolt’, it is also true that Dickens’s ‘fear of class conflict’ informs the narrativization of the mutiny in the Christmas story, where he foregrounds the racial tensions generated by the events in India so as ‘to transform socially subversive feelings of class injury and ressentiment into a socially quiescent racism’.26 Following Brantlinger,27 Nayder thus places the emphasis on the story’s conformity to those ideological elements of the ‘imperial romance’ which, by setting forth ‘a socially regressive solution’ to the (perennial) ‘condition of England-question’,28 work ‘to justify both aristocratic and imperial rule’. Indeed, having passed through the alembic of the colonial encounter, the ‘marginalized’29 hero’s disaffection is ‘sublimated’30 into a relation of ‘vassalage to his lady’ (Marion Maryon),31and, in this manner, as Tambling notes, the ‘heterogeneous’ actant is called upon in the narrative to ‘defend the homogeneous aspects of society’,32 and thereby re-members33 himself in the image of ‘the oppressor of the rest of the [racially] impure’.34

However, although, this narrative matrix, with its over-conscious emphasis on ‘hero’ glorification through (celibate) self-abnegation and the ‘performance of heroic deeds for the glorification of others’, along with the projection of the narrated events into an ‘absolute epic past,’ appears to provide important clues to the theme of Carton’s ‘self-sacrifice and devotion’ treated in A Tale of Two Cities, thus arguably suggesting the conformity of both works to the ‘chronotype’ of the ‘chivalric romance’ and pointing to the legitimating work performed by both in service to the Empire,35 such an approach does not yet account for what many critics recognized as the ‘feminization’ of the revolutionary mob in the novel,36 or rather the equation of social upheaval with a disarticulation, or inversion, of sexual hierarchies, attributed to ‘cannibal’37 ‘deviant femininity’, or even to ‘degenerate’, ‘polymorphously perverse’ cross-gendering.38 While many commentators have noted before the extensive availability of the ‘iconography of cannibalism’ employed by Victorian writers as a metaphor for class conflict,39 it is quite likely that Nayder’s ‘excavation’ work on Dickens’s revisions to Collins’s original manuscript for the 1857 stage production of The Frozen Deep40 may have supplied, in the ‘phalllic-mother’ figure of Nurse Esther (‘a barbarous Highlander, a former wet nurse and a resentful servant’),41 the ‘missing link’ in what is essentially a proliferating population of ‘specular selves’ refracted through the two-dimensional field of Dickens’s colonial ‘Imaginary’.42 Conceived in response to Dr. Rae’s report about the fate of the Franklin expedition, a report43 which contained a series of allegations which raised the spectre of ‘mutiny and cannibalism’ among the explorers and which, by threatening in this manner to efface ‘the boundary between savagery and civilization’ and by invoking ‘images of class warfare’, appeared to controvert both the ideological justification of the ‘civilizing mission’ and the rhetoric of patriotism and social harmony that commonly accompanied narratives of Arctic exploration, the play, as Nayder explains, was ‘to dramatize the revisionist retelling of the history of the expedition’ that had already appeared in HW.44

Dickens45 had already attempted to challenge the veracity of the report’s allegations in a number of articles published in HW,46 where the high state of ‘discipline’, ‘fortitude and patience’ of both Franklin and his crew47 was contrasted with the character of those other castaways who ‘had been driven to the last resource’ (a category embracing drunkards, members of ‘inferior classes’,48 syphilitic ‘mutineers’, the ‘scum of all countries’,49 etc.), and where an attempt was also made to impeach the credibility of Dr. Rae’s ‘native’ informer50 and to shift the blame51 for the ‘mutilated state of the corpses’ onto the ‘Esquimaux themselves’.52 And, it was the restatement of his case in the two HW articles published in December 1854, in which Dr. Rae reiterated the allegation of insubordination by observing on the ‘disorderly conduct of the crew at the last port they [had] entered’, and, more interestingly, rose to the defence of his interpreter—a certain William Ouligback, ‘who could speak English perhaps, more correctly than one half of the lower classes in England or Scotland’—, and where he expressed his approbation of the ‘Esquimau’ character in general,53 that according to Nayder provided the impetus for the creation of Esther, the ‘Scotch Housekeeper’ in The Frozen Deep: through the stereotyped construction of the clairvoyant Scotch woman54 as a ‘barbarous racial other’,55 a ‘social cannibal’56 and a ‘substitute mother’ with a ‘ravenous appetite’57 (a ‘wolf-nurse’),58 ‘Nurse Esther’ became a place-holder59 for the mutinous cannibals of the expedition, and in this manner functioned to ‘elide’ and encrypt the ‘original source of conflict’—the memory of ‘class warfare’60 that haunted the epic of ‘exploration and empire building’.61 To the extent that Esther’s ‘cannibalism’ consists precisely in her attempt to usurp through the exercise of ‘her second sight’ the place assigned to the ‘fathers’ in the patriarchal setting of the play,62 the male explorers are therefore able to achieve unity of purpose and ‘triumph’ in the face of adversity not solely through their ‘gentlemanly’ qualities, but through the identification of the ‘savage’ woman63 as their ‘common enemy’.64

And it is this two-pronged strategy of displacing class strife onto gender and racial conflict, reprised in A Tale, that is of importance for the reading frame adopted in this essay.65 As many critics have shown, revolutionary violence in the novel is equated with ungovernable ‘female deviancy’66 and the character of Defarge (murderess, terrorist, demagogue and cannibalistic ‘ersatz mother to the children of violence’67) is ‘othered’, exoticized, and ultimately dehumanized68 with the twofold aim of discrediting militant ‘woman power’69 and of denying any kind of rationality to popular protest and collective violence.70 Whether one considers the portrayal of the novel’s villainess as bestialized, ‘orientalized’, or even ‘Indianized’, as Joshi does (who compares Defrage’s ferocity to that of a ‘tiger menacing a bare-shouldered woman in a pair of Punch cartoons by Tenniel’, ostensibly allegorizing the rape of Anglo-Indian women by Bengalee men);71 or, alternatively, as overtly sexualized, and at the same time, masculinized (with Defarge phallephorically concealing ‘a loaded pistol in her bosom, and a sharpened dagger at her waist’),72 the intended effect is the same: to signal her trangression of bourgeois norms and, by relegating her to a ‘disjointed’ Time73 (‘sharpened dagger’)—that of the Furies, the Gorgons, the Fates, or the Bacchantes—,74 other than the novel’s Present,75 to refuse to grant political agency to her and to her revolutionary ‘tribe’. And, while critics have stressed the similarity between the ‘racist vocabulary’ used in the narrator’s response to the terrible scenes at the ‘grindstone’ and the tone of the much-cited letter of 4 October 1857 to Angela Burdett-Coutts,76 nevertheless, one cannot fail to diagnose in the ‘ruffians’ barbarous disguise’ the anxiety of sexual difference/castration and an ‘ambivalent’ reaction77 to the transgression of gender boundaries.78 I should add that it is impossible to provide here a survey of critical interpretations concerning the treatment of the theme of the ‘revolutionary/rioting crowd’ in Dickens’s novels. It will suffice to refer here to Brantligner’s view that ‘whereas for Marx, the final revolution of the proletariat would dispel the nightmare [of history], for Dickens, such a revolution [...] would only be nightmare compounded’.79 I believe, I have already furnished some evidence in support of this claim.

To the extent that my purpose in researching and writing this paper has been to investigate the genealogical continuity in the thematic concerns of A Tale of Two Cities and Dickens’s other writings roughly contemporaneous with the events of 1857, I have refrained from adopting a type of approach exemplified by the work of scholars such as Grace Moore or Christopher Herbert, who, in my view, attempt to draw parallels of dubious value between ‘Mutiny writing’ and Dickens’s work.80 Instead, I have attempted to present and draw upon the results of work by Lillian Nayder, Laura Peters, Priti Joshi and others, so as to examine the ideological function performed by forms of ‘othering’ in Dickens’s texts.


(1995 wrds)
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Wynne, Deborah, ‘Scenes of “Incredible Outrage”: Dickens, Ireland, and A Tale of Two Cities’, Dickens Studies Annual, 37 (2006), 51–64

1 Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, ed. by Andrew Sanders (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 274.—The novel was serialised in All The Year Round (AYR) from 30 April to 26 November 1859.

2 Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, ‘The Perils of Certain English Prisoners and Their Teasure in Women, Children, Silver and Jewels’, in The Christmas Stories, ed. by Ruth Glancy (London: J. M. Dent, 1996 (First published in Household Words, Extra Christmas Number, 1857)), pp. 171–256 (pp. 248–49) (henceforth cited as ‘The Perils’ in the text). The story was first published in December 1857 as the Extra Christmas Number of Household Words (HW) (see, e.g., Lillian Nayder, Unequal Partners: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Victorian Authorship (Ithaka, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), p. 103). Wilkie Collins was responsible for the second chapter titled ‘The Prison in the Woods’ (‘The Perils’, pp. 203–41).

3 William Oddie, ‘Dickens and the Indian Mutiny’, The Dickensian, 68:366 (1972), 3–17; cf. William Oddie, Dickens and Carlyle: The Question of Influence (London: Centenary Press, 1972), pp. 91–93; Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British literature and imperialism, 1830-1914 (Ithaka, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988), pp. 206–08; Jeremy Tambling, Dickens, violence and the modern state: dreams of the scaffold (London: Macmillan, 1995), pp. 186–91; Lillian Nayder, ‘Class Consciousness and the Indian Mutiny in Dickens’s The Perils of Certain English Prisoners’, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 32:4 (1992), 689–705; also, Nayder, Unequal Partners (ch. 4); Laura Peters, “‘Double-dyed Traitors and Infernal Villains”: Illustrated London News, Household Words, Charles Dickens and the Indian Rebellion’, in Negotiating India in the Nineteenth-Century Media, ed. by David Finkelstein and Douglas M. Peers (London: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 110–134; and Laura Peters, Orphan texts: Victorian orphans, culture and empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), pp. 63–75.

4 Gautam Chakravarty, The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), passim.

5 Priti Joshi, ‘Mutiny Echoes: India, Britons, and Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities’, Nineteenth-Century Literature, 62:1 (2007), 48–87.

6 Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness, p. 208.

7 Grace Moore, Dickens and Empire: Discourses of Class, Race and Colonialism in the Works of Charles Dickens (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004), chs.6-7.

8 Joshi, pp. 53–54, 80, 85.

The extracts from the letters to Henry Morley and Angela Burdett-Coutts (18 October 1857 and 25 November 1857, respectively), on the basis of which Joshi approaches both the novel and the Christmas story in terms of Dickens’s authorial intent, occur ibid. 74, 80. In the following I include the corresponding paragraphs from the letters and italicize the passages crucial to Joshi’s argument:

‘Or can you suggest from your remembrance any more probable set of circumstances in which a few English people—gentlemen, ladies and children—and a few English soldiers, would find themselves alone in a strange wild place and liable to hostile attack? I wish to avoid India itself ; but I want to shadow out, in what I do the bravery of our ladies in India’ (Letter to Morley, qtd in Oddie, ‘Dickens and the Indian Mutiny’, p. 6); ‘It is all one story this time, of which I have written the greater part (Mr Collins has written one chapter), and which I have planned with great care in the hope of commemorating, without any vulgar catchpenny connexion or application, some of the best qualities of the English character that have been shown in India. I hope it is very good and I think it will make a noise’ (Letter to Angela Burdett-Coutts, qtd in ibid., p. 7).


9 For this ‘justificatory clause’ conjoined with the ‘reign of the terror’ following the revolt, see Christopher Herbert, War of No Pity: The Indian Mutiny and Victorian Trauma (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), ch.4.

Herbert (ibid. ch.5) approaches Dickens’s novel from a perspective similar to that of Moore. However, many of the formulations offered in this publication, which, to all intents and purposes, seeks to establish the ‘possibility of a morally defensible imperialism’, are simply shocking (e.g. the charge of ‘defamation of one’s scholarly predecessors’ levelled against postcolonial critics, (ibid. p.136)).



10 The phrase occurs in Oddie, Dickens and Carlyle: The Question of Influence, p. 92.

11 In particular, she argues: ‘Through allowing Miss Pross to assert herself, but still survive, Dickens complicates and overturns the conceptions of the fragility of British womanhood that characterized reports of the massacre at the Bibighar’ (Moore, p. 154).

12 Ibid., pp. 129-30, 145, 153-54.

In the description given by Dickens of Miss Pross in the aftermath of the ‘grand wrestling match’ (Harold Bloom, ‘Introduction’, in Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations, ed. by Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House, 2007), pp. 27–47 (p. 11)), a description, ‘bearing a remarkable resemblance to the dishevelled state of a rape survivor’, Moore sees evidence of Dickens’s engaging in a ‘revision’ of the narratives of ‘systematic rape and mutilation’ widely disseminated at the time of the rebellion among the British public (Moore, p. 154; cf., also. Jenny Sharpe, ‘The Unspeakable Limits of Rape: Colonial Violence and Counter-Insurgency’, in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, ed. by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (Harlow: Pearson Education, 1994 (First published in Genders, 10:5, Spring 1991, pp.25–56)), pp. 221–43; the passage Moore comments on occurs in A Tale of Two Cities, p.354). In support of her thesis, Moore also draws a parallel between the ‘Begum Hussani Khanum’ (who ‘incit[ed] the atrocities committed against the English women in Cawnpore through casting aspersions on the sepoys’ masculinity’ (Moore, p. 153)) and Defarge, without however providing any textual evidence. I have been unable to locate this particular detail regarding the conduct of Nana sahib’s servant (the ‘Begum’) at the time of the massacre (cf. Rudrangshu Mukherjee, ‘“Satan Let Loose Upon Earth”: The Kanpur Massacres in India in the Revolt of 1857’, Past & Present, 128:1 (1990), 92–116 (p. 114) and George Trevelyan, Cawnpore (London: Macmillan, 1894 [1865]), p. 278, for ‘Begum’s’ participation in this episode). It is quite likely that Moore has in mind Sharpe’s recounting of the (fictional) exploits of the ‘Rani of Jhansi’ (Sharpe, pp. 231-32). In this respect, I consider Moore’s argument as purely speculative.—It should be added that the episode of the deadly struggle between the two women is read by Harold Bloom as expressing Miss Pross’s ‘repressed lesbian passion’ for Defarge (Bloom, p. 11).



13 Nayder also remarks that Moore is forced into difficult positions by her desire both to champion the ‘radical’ Dickens and to ‘challenge the idea of a “sustained racism”’ evidenced in his texts (Lillian Nayder, ‘Book Review: Dickens and Empire: Discourses Of Class, Race And Colonialism in the Works of Charles Dickens, by Grace Moore’, Victorian Studies, 48:2 (2006), 331–333 (p. 332)); for Dickens’s racism, see infra.

14 Cf. Daniel Stout, ‘Nothing Personal: The Decapitation of Character in A Tale of Two Cities’, Novel, 41:1 (2007), 29–52 (pp. 30–31), for a distinction between ‘conceptually’ and ‘referentially historicisict’ novels.

15 See note 8, supra.

16 Cf., e.g., Patrick Brantlinger, ‘Did Dickens Have a Philosophy of History? The Case of Barnaby Rudge’, Dickens Studies Annual, 30 (2001), 59–74; Nicholas Visser, ‘Roaring Beasts and Raging Floods: The Representation of Political Crowds in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel’, The Modern Language Review, 89:2 (1994), 289–317 (pp. 302–308).

17 Oddie, ‘Dickens and the Indian Mutiny’, p. 15.

18 Joshi, pp. 54, 80.

19 Peters, ‘Double-dyed Traitors’, p. 125.

20 Joshi, pp. 79-87.

21 see, e.g., Peters, Orphan Texts, pp. 63–64; Peters, ‘Double-dyed Traitors’, p. 130.

22 Peters, ‘Double-dyed Traitors’, esp. pp. 118, 130; and Joshi, esp. pp. 54, 73, 75;

23 For the text of the infamous letter of 4 October 1857 to Angela Burdett Coutts, which contains Dickens’s ‘genocidal’ comments on the ‘mutiny’, see, e.g., Nayder, ‘Class Consciousness and the Indian Mutiny’, p. 694; cf. ‘The Perils’, 253 (the killing of Christian George King).

24 Peters, ‘Double-dyed Traitors’, pp. 125–131; She shows, for instance,how certain elements in the story ‘resonate with descriptions and themes’ occurring in the ILN eyewitness accounts (e.g., the treachery of ‘trusted servants’, the ‘animalization’ of the mutineers, the ‘endurance’ of British women and the ‘valour’ and determination of British men, etc.). While Peters acknowledges her indebtedness to Nayder’s work (ibid. p. 111; cf. Peters, Orphan Texts, pp. 71 et seq.), her stated aim however is to trace ‘the intersection of political, journalistic and literary discourses emerging from the crisis in India’ (Peters, ‘Double-dyed Traitors’, p. 132), and also to investigate Dickens’s role as propagandist for the cause of empire (ibid. p.121).

25 ‘The Perils’, 176, 247; cf. Peters, ‘Double-dyed Traitors’, pp. 130–31; Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness, p. 207.

26 Nayder, Unequal Partners, pp. 103, 117; Nayder, ‘Class Consciousness and the Indian Mutiny’, p. 692. It should be added that Nayder advances a series of cogent arguments for differentiating Wilkie Collins’s attitudes to race/class/gender from those of Dickens .—For Oddie’s identification of the ‘historical prototypes’ of the story, ibid. 696 (with Commissioner Pordage based on ‘Clemency Canning’, and ‘Christian King George’ on Nana Sahib).

27 Nayder, Unequal Partners, p. 125 (n.42); Lillian Nayder, ‘The Cannibal, the Nurse, and the Cook in Dickens’s The Frozen Deep’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 19 (1991), 1–24 (p. 705) (n.30).

28 For this (Carlylean) notion, see, e.g., Denis G. Paz, Dickens and Barnaby Rudge. Anti-Catholicism and Chartism (Monmouth: The Merlin Press, 2006), passim.

29 Cf. Peters, Orphan Texts, p. 71; also: ‘[Gill] was a foundling child, picked up somewhere or another’, and whose ‘father (?) [...] used to give [him] so little of his victuals and so much of his staff, that [Gill] ran away from him’, etc. ( ‘The Perils’, pp.174-75).

30 For the structure of the masochistic phantasy that subtends this motif of ‘devotion and self-sacrifice’, reprised in Carton’s execution in A Tale of Two Cities, I consider particularly relevant the following remarks by Michel de Certeau on ‘torture’ and the ‘institution of filth’: ‘The victim must be the voice of the filth, everywhere denied, that everywhere supports the representation of the regime’s “omnipotence”; in other words, the “glorious image” of themselves the regime provides for its adherents through its recognition of them’ (Michel de Certeau, Heterologies: Discourse on the Other (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), p. 41).

31 This passage is based on Nayder, Unequal Partners, p. 125; Nayder, ‘Class Consciousness and the Indian Mutiny’, pp. 695¶2, 697¶1, 701¶1.

The episode in the story where Private Davis ‘pledges himself to his lady’, having refused a ‘purse of money’ offered in payment for services rendered to his masters, occurs in ‘The Perils’ (p. 254); compare also the promise by Davis to Marion and that given by Sidney to Lucie : “I shall have died in your defence before it comes to [your being taken]” (‘The Perils’, p.196); ‘For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything [...] I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you’ (A Tale of Two Cities, p.147).



32 Regarding Carton’s ‘exteriority” to the locus of the ‘Victorian hearth’ (cf. his characterization as ‘self-flung away, wasted, drunken, poor creature of misuse’ (A Tale of Two Cities, p.144), Catherine Waters observes that ‘[i]ronically, the triumph of the representative middle-class family is only secured in the novel through an instance of its own failure’ (Catherine Waters, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, in Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations, ed. by Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House, 2007), pp. 101–28 (pp. 124-25)).

33 The idiom used here is Lacanian.

34 Tambling, pp. 187, 189 (cf. ibid. p. 154 and note 30 supra).

35 Nancy L. Paxton, ‘Mobilizing Chivalry: Rape in British Novels about the Indian Uprising of 1857’, Victorian Studies, 36:1 (1992), 5–30 (pp. 6, 9); see, also, n.31 supra, and accompanying text.

“The Perils” is set in Central America in 1744 (‘The Perils’, p.173); cf. Peters’s comment on the colonists’ ‘march straight to Heaven’ (‘The Perils’, p.255), which strikingly illustrates the ‘symbolic organization of the space-time’ of the story: ‘the idyllic paradise had been purged of its demon, enabling the colonizers to revel in the Garden of Eden and the sailors to claim a spiritual reward’ (Peters, Orphan Texts, p. 131; also, Vanden Bossche on the ‘prophetic closure’ effected in A Tale of Two Cities: ‘[Carton is “plotting”] the imagined end of the Terror and [the] return of the family to a Paris reborn as the heavenly city’ (‘New Jerusalem’). (Chris R. Vanden Bossche, ‘Prophetic Closure and Disclosing Narrative: The French Revolution and A Tale of Two Cities’, Dickens Studies Annual, 12 (1983), 209–21 (p. 216); A Tale of Two Cities, p.360)



36 Lisa Robson, ‘The “Angels” in Dickens’s House: Representation of Women in A Tale of Two Cities’, in Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations, ed. by Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House, 2007), pp. 27–47 (p. 43); Waters, p. 110.

37 However, it should be noted that, in a passage that occurs shortly before the discovery of the ‘Sambo’s’ treachery, Private Davis thinks of Christian George King as a ‘cannibal’ (‘The Perils’, p.191); moreover, by the autumn of 1857, allegations of cannibalism in India had already appeared in the press (‘’Children have been compelled to eat the quivering flesh of their murdered parents ’ (The Times 17 September 1857; qtd in Peters, ‘Double-dyed Traitors’, p. 123).

38 Waters, p. 113; Tambling, p. 144.

39 For instance, Lee Sterrenburg, ‘Psychoanalysis and the Iconography of Revolution’, Victorian Studies, 19:2 (1975), 241–264; James E. Marlow, ‘English Cannibalism: Dickens after 1859’, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 23:4 (1983), 647–666; cf. Nayder, ‘Class Consciousness and the Indian Mutiny’, pp. 19 n.3.

40 The play was ‘jointly composed by Dickens and Wilkie Collins in 1856’, and was first staged in January 1857. (Nayder, ‘The Cannibal, the Nurse, and the Cook in Dickens’s The Frozen Deep’, p. 3; Nayder, Unequal Partners, pp. 64, 94; it is impossible here to go into the details of Nayder’s argument regarding Dickens’s revisions; let it suffice to say that her account aims to stress Dickens’s ‘conservatism’. (ibid. 86–94).)

41 Nayder, Unequal Partners, p. 75.

42 For this structure of ambivalence associated with ‘the mirror stage’, see, e.g., Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), ch.3.

43 Published in The Times on 23 October 1854 (Nayder, ‘The Cannibal, the Nurse, and the Cook in Dickens’s The Frozen Deep’, p. 1).

44 This passage is based on ibid., pp. 1-2; Nayder, Unequal Partners, pp. 61, 63, 65-66; cf. Joshi, pp. 68–71, where she also reproduces in its essentials Nayder’s account.

45 My presentation follows closely the argument in Nayder, Unequal Partners, pp. 66–69; however, I include citations from, and my own comments on, the relevant HW articles.

46 Ibid., p. 62 n.3, for detailed information on authorship and dates of publication; in the following, I will refer to four out of the total of seven relevant articles.

47 Charles Dickens, ‘The Lost Arctic Voyagers’, Household Words, 10:245 (2 December 1854), 361–365 (p. 363).

48 Charles Dickens, ‘The Lost Arctic Voyagers’, Household Words, 10:246 (9 December 1854), 385–393 (p. 388).

49 On the Medusa crew: ‘[I]t was not upon their breasts these heroes wore the insignia of the exploits which had led to their serving the state in the ports of Toulon, Brest, or Rochefort’ (ibid.).

50 Dickens dismisses the information given with comments such as: ‘the wild tales of a herd of savages’; the ‘vague babble of savages’ (Dickens, ‘The Lost Arctic Voyagers’, pp. 363, 365).

51 Brantlinger discusses this type of (paranoid-schizoid) ‘extropunitive projection’ with reference to ‘British atrocities at Benares and Allahabad’ that preceded the Cawnpore massacre (Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness, pp. 200-01, 294 n.7); in this respect, Sharpe also notes: ‘What confirmed the [tales of atrocities] against English women were the [‘highly ritualized’] punishments that supposedly reflected them’ (Sharpe, p. 234; cf. Nayder, ‘The Cannibal, the Nurse, and the Cook in Dickens’s The Frozen Deep’, p. 20 n.6).

52 Dickens, ‘The Lost Arctic Voyagers’, p. 362;

Cf. the following specimen of Dickens’s racist discourse: ‘We believe every savage to be in his heart covetous, treacherous, and cruel; and we have yet to learn what knowledge the white man lost, houseless, shipless, apparently forgotten by his race, plainly famine-stricken, weak, frozen, helpless, and dying has of the gentleness of Esquimaux nature.’ (ibid.; also qtd. in Nayder, ‘The Cannibal, the Nurse, and the Cook in Dickens’s The Frozen Deep’, p. 5).



53 John Rae, ‘The Lost Arctic Voyagers’, Household Words, 10:248 (23 December 1854), 433–437 (p. 434); John Rae, ‘Dr. Rae’s Report’, Household Words, 10:249 (23 December 1854), 457–459 (p. 458).

For instance, Dr. Rae remarked: ‘In their domestic relationship [The ‘Esquimaux’] show a bright example to the most civilised people. They are dutiful sons and daughters [and] most affectionate parents’ (ibid. p.458).



54 For Victorian notions about the ‘racial inferiority’ of Highlanders, and explicit comparisons of Scotch people to Eskimos (as well as to Indian tribal people [‘Gonds, Bheels and Jats’]), see Nayder, Unequal Partners, p. 70; cf., also, the derogatory remarks on Celtic improvidence in Henry Morley, ‘A Clouded Skye’, Household Words, 5:248 (17 April 1852), 98–101 (who apparently seeks to impart the rudiments of Mathusian economics to the inhabitants of Skye and advocates emigration).

55 Nayder, Unequal Partners, p. 91.

56 Ibid., p. 78.

57 Ibid., pp. 71, 70.

58 Ibid., p. 79. As Nayder notes, Clara, the heroine of the play and Esther’s ‘nurse-child’, appears “‘to be wasting away”, […] “growing paler and paler”, as if she is being cannibalized’ (or ‘colonized in reverse’) by the domestic servant (ibid., p. 78; the quotations appearing in Nayder’s text are taken from Collins’s original manuscript).

59 The vocabulary used here is evidently psychoanalytic.

60 Nayder, Unequal Partners, p. 91.

61 This association is thoroughly explored Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness (e.g., in ch.6).

62 The following excerpt vividly demonstrates Esther’s challenge to patriarchal order:

Nurse Esther: No’ want me? The day may come, Mistress, when ye’ll just be doon on your knees, begging me to speak! Where’s your husband? (To Rose) Where’s your father? Where’s Lucy Crayford’s brother? Where’s my nurse child Clara’s plighted lover? Lost a’ lost, i’ the lands o’ Ice and Snow! (qtd in Nayder, ‘The Cannibal, the Nurse, and the Cook in Dickens’s The Frozen Deep’, p. 13).

63 Interestingly enough, in an early response to the events in India that appeared in HW, John Robertson discussed the rebellion as a war between patriarchal Christianity and mother-right ‘Buddhism’ (sic) (John Robertson, ‘Sepoy Symbols of Mutiny’, Household Words, 16:389 (5 September 1857), 228–32 (p. 231); cf. Peters, ‘Double-dyed Traitors’, p. 115).

64 Nayder, ‘The Cannibal, the Nurse, and the Cook in Dickens’s The Frozen Deep’, pp. 12–13;Nayder, Unequal Partners, pp. 75, 92-95.

65 Nayder, Unequal Partners, p. 95; Waters, pp. 103–04, 111.

66 Waters, p. 102; John B. Lamb, ‘Domesticating History: Revolution and Moral Management in A Tale of Two Cities’, Dickens Studies Annual, 25 (1996), 227–244 (p. 228).

67 Linda M. Lewis, ‘Madame Defarge as Political Icon in Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities’, Dickens Studies Annual, 37 (2006), 31–49 (pp. 32, 43, 47); see, e.g. A Tale of Two Cities, pp.167–68 (Defarge as sadistic mother promising ‘playthings’ to the mender of the roads).

68 Waters, pp. 105, 115–16;

69 Lewis, esp. pp.32, 43.

70 Deborah Wynne, ‘Scenes of “Incredible Outrage”: Dickens, Ireland, and A Tale of Two Cities’, Dickens Studies Annual, 37 (2006), 51–64 (p. 60); Visser, pp. 303, 306–08; e.g. A Tale of Two Cities, pp. 211, 225 (revolutionary violence as ‘natural cataclysm’); A Tale of Two Cities, p.274 (crowd’s fickleness); A Tale of Two Cities, p.271 (‘criminality’ of popular court).

71 Joshi, p. 79; A Tale of Two Cities, p.347 (‘tigress without pity’); ibid. p. 35 (‘gipsy-like attire’; Waters, p. 105).

72 Waters, p. 116; A Tale of Two Cities, p.347 (‘sharpened dagger’).

73 A Tale of Two Cities, p.268.

74 Lewis (iconography of ‘female revolutionaries’).

75 See, J. Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983) on ‘allochronic’ discourse.

76 Tambling, p. 143; Nayder, ‘Book Review: Dickens and Empire: Discourses Of Class, Race And Colonialism in the Works of Charles Dickens, by Grace Moore’; also note 23 supra.

77 For the narcissistic structure of this type of ‘apotropaic gesture’ (i.e. the display of the female genitals), see Neil Hertz, ‘Medusa’s Head: Male Hysteria under Political Pressure’, Representations, 4 (1983), 27–54 (esp. p.40).

78 A Tale of Two Cities, pp.251–52 (‘false moustaches’); ibid. p. 398 n.251 (on Princess de Lamballe).

79 Brantlinger, ‘Did Dickens Have a Philosophy of History? The Case of Barnaby Rudge’, p. 71.

80 For instance, Moore develops her argument based in part on Charles Ball’s History of the Indian Mutiny, without however taking into account that Chaudhuri establishes 1860-61 as the likely date of publication (Herbert, p. 297; cf. David Paroissien, ‘Book Review: Dickens and empire: discourses of class, race, and colonialism in the works of Charles Dickens, by Grace Moore’, Dickens Quarterly, 22:3 (2005), 181–86)



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