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Sketches By Boz Charles Dickens

1585 words - 7 pages

Sketches by Boz
“The Streets - Morning”

The Victorian London streets is a familiar setting of Dicken's works with “Oliver Twist” and “A Christmas Carol” being some his most memorable works. In this passage Dickens offers the reader an alternative London, one without the energetic crowds but instead a much more disquieting place where the streets are dull and lifeless. We are met with a silent neighbourhood before the sun has risen and through the use of characters, setting and comparisons the reader receives a rich picture of the sunless streets.

The passage begins with the introduction of the Victorian London scene on a summer morning. The reader is taken by surprise by the opening ...view middle of the document...

The impression that they leave is one of sadness, something that one who has observed the area at each time will remember due to the vast differences. Dickens shows that this time of day is for the most unruly of people with the impoverished clearing out of the neighbourhood and “the more sober and orderly part of the population” not yet awakened. Emphasis is put on how miserable the roads are at predawn to the point they are practically uninhabitable, except by those with nowhere else to go. Dickens draws attention to the places where there would typically be masses of people; “The coach-stands in the larger thoroughfares are deserted; the night-houses are closed; and the chosen promenades of profligate misery are empty.” This creates an image of ghostlike platforms and buildings, usually brimming with life and movement during the day, now empty with even the degenerates tucked away. Despite the forbidding, dead mood that permeates throughout the area, the weather is still warm and humid; “a partially opened bedroom-window here and there, bespeaks the heat of the weather”. Through the hot weather, the atmosphere becomes tense and heavy, and with this tension there is “sickness” and the “uneasy” which contributes a feeling of claustrophobia to the passage, making the reader feel the discomfort of the scene. The Victorian London presented to the reader by Dickens is a grim and deserted place where few dare to walk the streets. The rich description of the scene places great emphasis on the lack on habitation and the grey city, and the depression within it before the sun rises.

Dickens' use of language in this piece is memorable for his emphasis on several words and phrases, his literary techniques convey the dreariness of the passage and the street scene. The oxymoron of the words “unfortunate” and “pleasure” indicates the futility of trying to find happiness on a predawn London street through with the pursuit of pleasure still unpromising. Tautology places extra stress on words with the same meaning such as “cold, solitary, desolation” conveying to the reader the lonely frigidity of this area of London before sunrise. The awkward juxtaposition at the end of the first paragraph signifies the unease of one in the streets; “and over the quiet, closely-shut buildings, which throughout the day are swarming with life and bustle, that is very impressive”. With the unusual order of words the reader feels the discomfort that is present in the neighbourhood at this unpleasant time. A play on words with the drunken man who “staggers heavily along” with “the burden of the drinking song.” This can translate to the heavy burden of being drunk and having to find one's way home in such state. Dickens' clever phraseology is highly effective, managing to send the message to the reader with out being too overt, allowing for the text to flow. Alliteration is ever present in the narrative with “the drunken, the dissipated and the wretched have disappeared”...

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