Printer Friendly

"THE SPIRITS OF ALL THREE SHALL STRIVE WITHIN ME": BOURDIEUAN MULTIFORM CAPITAL AND DICKENSIAN CHARACTERIZATION.

Since the beginning of Charles Dickens's career, critics have detailed with precision the effect of his characters while leaving the exact mechanics of his method undefined. Dickens has always been known to create vibrant minor figures with distinctive habits of speech, manner, and body, who often exist in contrast to his bland protagonists; he traffics in types, stereotypes, and caricatures, and privileges humor, incident, and sentiment over psychological development. (1) This view is emphasized nowhere more than in discussions of A Christmas Carol (1843), in which Ebenezer Scrooge's overnight rehabilitation has long appeared unrealistic at best and politically suspect at worst. (2) The contemporary reviewer R. H. Home lamented after the Carol's publication that the rapidity of Scrooge's transformation completely eclipses any discussion of "the processes whereby poor men are enabled to earn good wages, wherewith to buy turkeys for themselves" (152). In the mid-twentieth century, Edmund Wilson suggested that Scrooge suffers from Dickens's continual struggle to get "good and bad together in one character" (65) and concluded that Dickens failed to make Scrooge's dual nature believable: "if we were to follow him beyond the frame of the story," Wilson contends, he would "unquestionably... relapse when the merriment was over" (64). Elliot L. Gilbert fleshed out this objection thirty years later, writing that the serious reader of the Carol--no matter how moved by Scrooge's conversion--knows "that men who spend whole lifetimes in miserable offices and lonely rooms, bullying their clerks... do not turn overnight into decent, generous people, touched only in their own best interests by the past, and dedicated to the good of their fellowmen" (22). Gilbert recasts the novel from unconvincing moral fable to successful "metaphysical study of a human being's quest for, and rediscovery of, his own innocence" (24), but J. Hillis Miller, in his 1993 essay "The Genres of A Christmas Carol," returns to Home's objection, arguing that, despite the wonderful vivacity of Dickens's language, the novel "reinforces an essentially conservative ideology" in which "the capitalist system of getting, spending, production and exchange" is not "supposed to be altered in any basic way" (204). Delving deeper into the text's hegemonic investments, Audrey Jaffe theorizes that, through Scrooge's voyeuristic journey, Dickens creates the paradigmatic narrative of "enculturation," in which readers absorb "the dominant values" forwarded by a particular time and place (255). In short, these critics identify A Christmas Carol as the novel in which Dickens's tacit endorsement of capitalism and his methods of characterization dovetail with particular clarity. (3)

These critical accounts of A Christmas Carol and its politics are incomplete, however, without a robust, sustained theory of how Dickensian characterization creates and vivifies the individual. The political meaning of Scrooge's conversion--and its degree of verisimilitude--cannot be discerned if, as critics of the realist novel, we have not accounted for how exactly Dickens constitutes each of his characters as individuals. In this essay, working off of the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu, I theorize that Dickens allegorizes the multiform capital (economic, cultural, and social) of his characters through their bodies; he communicates each character's possession of capital to the reader via their frenetic bodily movements and idiosyncratic physical features. Scholars of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novel have long argued that the genre possesses a unique ability to help its reader process how modern financial institutions have redefined individual personhood. Deidre Lynch has traced how authors and readers used literary characters "to renegotiate social relations in their changed, commercialized world, to derive new kinds of pleasure from the changes, to render their property truly private, to cope with the embarrassment of riches" (4-5). Alternatively, Mary Poovey examines how the novel itself emerged alongside forms of writing that literally established definitions of economic value. She contends that "imaginative writing" as a genre should be understood in context of two others that helped consumers understand the new credit economy and its markets: "monetary genres" ("gold and silver coins, paper money, and forms of credit paper") and "writing about the market" ("shipping lists, prices current, economic theory, and so on") (2). Anna Kombluh looks at the novel through the rise of financial speculation; she argues that the realist novel--with other mid-Victorian discourses such as financial journalism, emerging psychology, and political economy--played a major role in the cultural project of turning capital from operating fiction into incontrovertible reality (3). These critics highlight how the novel emerged with forms of writing that now seem radically detached from its aims; they emphasize the novel's role in enacting and normalizing economic modernization in Britain. Dickensian characterization, I argue, constitutes a particularly virulent and enduring form for representing the modern economy's effect on the individual.

I conceptualize Dickensian characterization as an economic technology in the spirit of Lynch, Poovey, and Kornbluh, but I am also modeling my theory on the work of Marxist novel theorists Gyorgy Lukacs and Frederic Jameson, who both detail how realist characterization indexes social hierarchies. In Studies in European Realism, Lukacs asserts that Balzac is the paradigmatic realist novelist because of his superior creation of "types"--or, as he defines them, novel characters whose unique personalities are formed by their dialectical relationship to their "important class tendencies" (91). (4) Balzac uses typical class-based desires to fashion, ironically, unique personalities for his characters; their typical traits--their class-based insecurities, superiority complexes, and antagonisms--are always carefully filtered through the prism of their personal desires so that neither feels artificial. Lukacs argues that Balzac's realist characters communicate a unique kind of social knowledge: how the individual life--the human personality--is formed through social forces in both its most outward, demographic features and its most internal, idiosyncratic yearnings (41-42). According to Lukacs, in making the intricate relationship between "the individual and the social setting" discernable, Balzac's novels resist bourgeois hegemony, despite their novelist's own conservative politics (38-39). Lukacs envisions the type not as generic or artificial, but the gateway to vivid, realistic fictional people. (5) This theory provides a model here for my thinking about Dickensian characterization; like Balzac, Dickens's politics end up being in opposition to the structural logic of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge's scanty behavioral adjustments at the end of the Carol reveal Dickens's inability--despite his diegetic condemnation of capitalism--to imagine a society in which the marketplace does not define individual personhood. (6)

Frederic Jameson's vision of realist characterization clarifies why Dickens's method should be read as a coherent, persistent, and nonetheless difficult to detect ideology of personhood as multiform capital. For Jameson, narratives try to resolve class conflict through their formalized reorganization of society's constitutive elements, but instead end up accidentally putting these ideologies on display for critique. The task of the literary critic is to divine the lapses that reveal the "political unconscious" in the course of the narrative and expose the text's "ideologeme," or "the smallest intelligible unit of the essentially antagonistic collective discourses of social classes" (76). This complicated theoretical schema requires an update of Lukacs's theory of realist character. (7) Lukacs's articulation of the constitutive elements that make up "typed" characters does not take into account, in Jameson's view, the ways in which these elements can have multiple meanings, nor does it consider closely enough what role narrative plays vis-a-vis character. Therefore, Jameson is interested in considering what he calls "the character system," which decenters the protagonist, and more thoroughly theorizing the allegorical meanings of plot and character. 1 read A Christmas Carol in this spirit, paying close attention to how the novel's methods of characterization clash with the text's espoused political opinions and throw into relief Dickens's unconscious investments. Furthermore, both Lukacs and Jameson suggest that Dickens employs a similar method of characterization to that of Balzac, but do not detail the salient differences. Both critics use him as a sort of shadow Balzac, a handy example of another author who achieves by and large the same effects as their prime case study, but who does not himself come in for much sustained analysis. Thus, this Marxist theoretical engagement with novelistic character so relevant to Dickens's method has not actually been used to discuss his fictional people--a gap this essay intends to fill.

Indeed, the clash between the novel's anti-poverty narrative and its use of multiform capital to render its characters reveals Dickens's endorsement of the existing social hierarchy. In making inequity a naturalized property of his characters' bodies, Dickens most poignantly dramatizes not the plight of the poor, but how deeply (and perhaps even particularly) the modern middle-class individual--the Scrooge--is shaped by the most minute changes and fluctuations in both his multiform capital and his consciousness of that capital. With Scrooge, Dickens portrays this shaping as both a unique, ubiquitous feature of modernity and a never-ending, small-scale personal tragedy for the individual. Rather than feel inspired to better the lot of real-life Cratchits or the neglected, impoverished children "Want" and "Ignorance," the reader feels pathos principally for Scrooge, her avatar. Scrooge's journey of self-discovery reveals how modern identity is so intertwined with the details of the individual's experience of her capital--how money is an internal, personal, and psychologically complex matter. Dickens aimed to show that the more barbaric side-effects of capitalism needed to be mitigated, but ended up laying bare, instead, how deeply and irrevocably the modern individual bases her identity on her possession of capital. Dickens's characters emerge from the constant contrast between their bodies--designed to reflect their value in the capitalist marketplace--and the narrative that continually argues against this view of personhood as inhumane. The narrative laments the cruelty of capitalism; the characters, on the other hand, are animated by the cruel logic that their story deplores. (8) Dickensian characterization captures the diverse configurations of capital possible in early Victorian England and externalizes, through the ephemera of the physical body and its tics, habits, and pathologies, an individual's capital as an affective experience. Dickens not only uses capital to vivify his characters, but also to index their "majorness"--that is, their significance in the narrative--in a distinct departure from realist novels that utilize psychological intricacy to indicate protagonicity. In this way, Scrooge comes into true protagonicity over the course of the novel--at the pace he realizes his wellbeing depends on cultivating capital in multiple forms and converting between forms of capital with ease and skill. A character that understands how multiform capital structures the modern individual and possesses the crucial skills of conversion is major in a Dickens novel, regardless of how much time the narrative devotes itself to telling his or her story. Dickens uses extremely lopsided forms of capital within a single individual to create his most memorable and grotesque characters.

My understanding of capital as multiform is drawn from Pierre Bourdieu's "The Forms of Capital." Bourdieu lays out a theory that encourages an allegorical reading of world-as-capital; he argues that capital is deeply relevant to human relationships traditionally considered removed from the realm of economics (familial and social interpersonal bonds, for instance). Bourdieu argues that capital can be converted from any one form into another with the appropriate effort. His definition of "embodied" capital is less well known than the three forms of capital--economic, cultural, and social--but very important for my argument here. He theorizes that the body is particularly central for cultural and social capital, and, in this way, he highlights the body as revelatory of the individual's possession of capital--a vision markedly compatible with Dickensian characterization. "Most of the properties of cultural capital can be deduced from the fact that, in its fundamental state, it is linked to the body and presupposes embodiment," Bourdieu writes; "like the acquisition of a muscular physique or a suntan, it cannot be done at second hand" (17-18). Bourdieu links cultural capital intimately to the unique, individual body; cultural capital "cannot be accumulated beyond the appropriating capacities of an individual agent; it declines and dies with its bearer (with his biological capacity, his memory, etc.)"--it is linked to "the person in his biological singularity" (18). In the case of social capital, Bourdieu's language invests the body with a similar significance. "The reproduction of social capital," Bourdieu writes, "presupposes an unceasing effort of sociability, a continuous series of exchanges in which recognition is endlessly affirmed and reaffirmed" (22). This effort necessitates, of course, continual physical presence and exertion--what we might call "face time."

I examine what I consider to be Dickens's first self-conscious novel, A Christmas Carol, for the very reasons that it is usually eschewed as lightweight: its semi-allegorical caricatures; its sentimental endorsement of capitalism; its supernatural, spectacle-laden plot. These high-octane displays show Dickens vibrantly forging his sensitivity to the complex, multiform nature of capital into a distinct novelistic method. A Christmas Carol is where the Dickens novel as such begins to truly cohere, in which each of the parts operates in accordance with the whole. (9) Robert Douglas-Fairhurst notes this new cohesion in his introduction to the Oxford edition, arguing that "never before" had Dickens set out "so deliberately" to unite his "accretive style"--with its love of "the unnecessary detail"--and his "narrative subject" (xi). "As the Carol develops," Douglas-Fairhurst writes, "even details that at first appear superfluous, narrative grace notes, are revealed to be part of a pattern, 'a genial shadowing forth,' designed to alert the eyes and ears of Dickens's readers to the dangers of assuming that anything or anyone is 'self-contained' as Scrooge supposes himself to be" (xi). In other words, more so than in his previous fiction, the Carol shows Dickens using detail to build a cohesive narrative system. Through this use of detail, the bodies of A Christmas Carol's characters reveal their forms of capital; little details give just enough shading to reveal specific iterations of economic, social, and cultural wealth.

Dickensian characterization--in A Christmas Carol particularly--offered a covert technology of economic literacy for its readers in the period. Through Dickens, readers learned about multiform capital and its relationship to identity and modern definitions of personhood. Like the Victorian etiquette manual, which came into cultural prominence along with Dickens, his novels showed readers the sensitive connection between the body and multiform capital. Rather than present capital as separate from the internal emotional life of the individual, Dickens presents the two as one and the same, as in Mr. Micawber's famous dictate: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery" (David Copperfield 69). Instead of the toggling between type and particular seen in Eliot and Austen, Dickens creates characters from the combination of multiform capital and a gender-age template. (10) Dickens does not instrumentalize the more developed specific social types presented and deconstructed in Austen and Eliot, but, rather, he views age and gender (middle-aged man, old woman, young boy, etc.) as templates that he then elaborates upon with the forms of capital." In Dickens, as Bourdieu would also have it, our emotions and most intimate relationships are not removed from the concerns of capital, but structured so deeply by this force that we often cannot speak of it. His method does not honor the division of exterior and interior privileged by psychological realism; there is nothing dispassionate about capital in Dickens, nothing cold and unfeeling about money, surfaces, or clothing.

Take, for instance, the characterizations of two very similar characters, Scrooge's ex-fiancee, Belle, and her daughter. In the span of a few pages, both are shown as young women. First, we meet Belle when she is "a fair young girl in a mourning dress," during her and Scrooge's parting scene (Carol 37). This passage is not long, and yet it manages to capture Belle as a distinct individual--her clothing, her formal diction, her status as a "dowerless girl," and her gentle movements all construct for the reader her multiform capital as it emerges through her body (38). These details convey that Belle is a young woman with little economic wealth; her mourning dress suggests that one of her parents has died recently, further worsening her economic and cultural prospects, and suggesting, perhaps, that she might not have the respectable family home necessary for a young, single, middle-class woman in the nineteenth century. Her religious diction ("worldly fortune," "patient industry," "nobler aspirations," "master-passion" "repentance and regret") and straightforward notions of Christian virtue draw from a culturally influential ideal of Victorian womanhood and thus give her a small amount of self-generated cultural capital (37-39). (12) Still, her meager economic capital imperils her respectability and threatens a fall into a life of physical, working-class toil. Scrooge's desertion of her reads all the cruder through this multiform consideration of capital--a reading her capital-expressive body invites. By letting her break the engagement, Scrooge rescinds from Belle prospective economic capital (his male income), cultural capital (her status as an engaged woman), and social capital (the doubling of the social network that engagement and marriage entail). In this parting conversation, Belle clings to the small store of cultural capital that is her strongest claim to the middle class; her investment in the cultural capital of her virtuous womanhood in the face of a heartbreak that only spells more economic impoverishment dramatizes her as a sorrowful, poignant figure.

In the very next scene, some twenty years in the future, Belle has long-since married another man and they have attained middle-class prosperity. She appears as a comfortable, "comely matron," and Dickens's depiction of her daughter, now the age she was in the previous vision, makes a marked contrast to his portrayal of Belle--but not because of their differing physical attributes. In fact, we are told that she is "so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw her... sitting opposite her daughter" (39). Rather, their differing compositions of capital at the same stage of life distinguish the two women. While Belle was only "fair," her daughter is described as "beautiful," and the new affluence of Belle's household radiates from her daughter's body. Whereas the "tears" of the mother "sparkled in the light," the narrator describes how "an inch" of the daughter's hair would be "a keepsake beyond price," and highlights "her waist," "her lips," "her downcast eyes," her "braided hair," and "her precious little shoe" (38). The narrator then shows the daughter being "pillaged" by her younger siblings. The children's transgressions (letting down her hair, removing her clothing, measuring her waist, staring at her, asking her intimate questions) simultaneously constitute their play and the narrator's wish list of lover's privileges. In a passage J. Hillis Miller calls "more than slightly embarrassing in the way it ascribes to the primary narrator a lasciviousness not entirely unlike that of Quilp as he bends over the bed of Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop" (204), the narrator concludes by sighing: "I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest licence of a child, and yet been man enough to know its value" (Carol 39-40). The narrator puts the daughter's charms in the terms of the marketplace--"value," "beyond price," "the wealth of all the world"--because capital makes the difference between her depiction and that of her mother (39). The narrator expresses no lust for Belle's nearly identical young body--rather, his description of Belle's body signals her virtue in trying circumstances. And due to the daughter's secure possession of middle-class economic and cultural capital, the narrator's fantasy is just that--in order to do any of the things he would like, the narrator knows that he (or any male reader like him) would have to marry her and the relationship would thus not have the lightness of child's play. The narrator's playful erotic engagement with the daughter can only ever be an illusion. Erotic union with her cannot be bought with money, only cultural and social capital, and is, thus, in an economic sense at least, literally priceless. In contrast, the precarity of the young Belle suggests that, at this time or in the near future, a fleeting erotic encounter with her could have an economic price, placing her body in the sordid realm of attainability.

This instance of Belle and her daughter in A Christmas Carol showcases Dickens's remarkable ability to individuate two characters who are nearly identical and who, furthermore, appear only briefly in his narratives. The duo dramatizes the mystery of Dickens's method, illustrating the way he achieves this differentiation very quickly and without going into anything like the internal psychological detail of Austen or Eliot. Belle and her daughter show how Dickens's characters are indeed a matter of surface, but not merely a matter of appearances. The distinctive traits and habits of Dickens's characters communicate to the reader their multiform composition of capital as a unique affect; these characters transmit what their multiform capital feels like to them and make the reader feel it too. (13) (For instance, the reader can see that, to Belle herself, her cherished cultural capital feels precious and a scanty protection against her hard circumstances; by contrast, her daughter's standard-issue nineteenth-century nouveau middle-class composition of capital feels as good to her as it looks to Dickens's narrator.) Dickens contributes to the novel--in opposition to Eliot's "descriptive triptych" (Gallagher, "Immanent Victorian" 65)--what we might call allegorical realism. Rather than manipulate our understanding of human nature generally and people specifically, or offer internal views of recognizable types, Dickens's method allegorizes capital--his characters are allegories for certain configurations of capital when possessed by a person of a certain age and gender. This is not allegory in a conventional sense; it is not Jane Vogel's Allegory in Dickens which argues, for instance, that "Copperfield is an allegory: that David its hero, pilgrim from Blunderstone Rookery to Canterbury time, is a spiritual kinsman of the Old Testament David" (2). (14) Instead, "allegory" here indicates a method--a way, as Angus Fletcher defines allegory, of "say[ing] one thing and mean[ing] another" (Fletcher 2). Rather than an allegory for Biblical stories or English political history, the hidden meaning of Dickens's characters is their capital, both in its sociological specificity and what it feels like to live this capital.

Think of Mr. Micawber and his verbosity, for instance. His euphemistic yet deft sentences communicating that he cannot pay his debts dramatize the contrast between his lack of economic capital and the cultural capital necessary to craft such elaborate excuses. The tragedy of Mr. Micawber's character is that no amount of inventive grammar and vocabulary can make up for insufficient funds, no matter how much he wishes profit were as easily spun as verbose explanations. Mr. Micawber's words allegorize the form of his capital (middle-class cultural capital in the face of no income) and how it feels (desperate); they spell out its complexity in a way not otherwise directly explained. Dickens employs allegorical technique here, but the allegory communicates both the state of an individual's capital and his or her affective experience of it, as opposed to a linear sub-narrative. Significantly, Fletcher does not associate allegory with a lack of realism: "We should make no automatic assumptions about the 'unreality' of allegorical personifications" (32). Fletcher notes "a minor character in Dickens" as an example of when "allegory is more naturalistic, when it appropriates the language of documentary journalism" and "bottles up concepts in the form of caricatures" (33). Whether one agrees with Fletcher's description of Dickens's prose as journalistic or not, it is significant that he sees Dickensian characterization as employing something like allegory. Dickens's characters communicate their multiform capital in an allegorical way, but these constellations cannot be boiled down to one simple idea (e.g., Rich, Poor, Bourgeois). They are expressed through the tactical material reality of Victorian life in all of its signifying complexity and are specific in both sociological fact and emotional truth. Dickens's characters embody their capital physically in a way consistent with allegory. The data being communicated, however, is complex and, while very easy to feel, requires close attention to consciously articulate. (15)

In A Christmas Carol, the holiday provides a special circumstance in which capital becomes unusually visible, enabling Scrooge and the reader to witness capital's multiple forms and their effect on the individual. In making Christmas over into a society-wide time to recognize the unacknowledged workings of capital, A Christmas Carol rewrites the traditional story of Christmas, replacing the Nativity with Scrooge's rebirth. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come each reeducate Scrooge in the value of a form of capital. (16) The three Christmas Ghosts map loosely onto Bourdieu's three dominant forms of capital. The Ghost of Christmas Past animates cultural capital--that which takes the longest to cultivate, and draws the most heavily on the past--and we can see this overlay in how the visions of Christmas Past investigate Scrooge's childhood (his turbulent family home) and his ultimate turn away from the values of the domestic family (in his rejection of Belle). The Ghost of Christmas Present vivifies economic capital--that form which is the most immediate, and easily created and spent; think, for example, of the extensive, hyperbolic descriptions of the London shops in the visions of Christmas Present, which so intensely glorify commerce. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come emphasizes social capital--the form of capital that has the most utility in the future--and which can be more quickly acquired than cultural capital but also must be constantly kept up in perpetuity; the visions of future Christmases (his lonely grave; his body picked over by his servants; his debtors' joy at his death because it releases them from his usury) show Scrooge to be the product of his unvested social capital. Through the three Ghosts, Scrooge comes to learn the importance of each form of capital, and in the process becomes not only a good man, but also "major" in the Dickensian mode. Thus, the Carol proposes Christmas as a magical time in which the processes of capital become unusually visible; it is a time, especially, to appreciate and actively invest--through Christmas merry-making--in social capital. Dickens himself celebrated Christmas manically and, from the Carol, one can see why; he depicts Christmas as a time of frenetic, frantic investment in social capital, which, usually, in the course of the year, takes a backseat to the cultivation of economic and cultural forms of value. (17)

The literal displacement of Christian mythology happens right before the official appearance of Marley's ghost. Scrooge looks at his old fireplace, "paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures" (Carol 18). And then, suddenly, the "Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters; Queens of Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the clouds like feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats" are crowded out by "that face of Marley, seven years dead," who "came like the ancient Prophet's rod, and swallowed up the whole.... If each smooth tile had been a blank at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a copy of old Marley's head on every one" (18). Filling these tiles, Marley's face presages Scrooge's education in multiform capital, replacing the traditional meaning of Christmas with a secularized version for capitalist society. When he appears, Marley credits Christmas for making his body visible once more to Scrooge; his appearance--wrapped in chains--is not only significant for A Christmas Carol, but as a rationale for Dickens's entire method. As Christmas makes the workings of capital visible to Londoners, and makes Marley visible to Scrooge, A Christmas Carol reveals to the reader Dickens's method of characterization. Jacob Marley and the other ghosts are particularly important here because they quite literally turn Dickensian characterization inside out. Marley wears a chain "long, and wound about him like a tail" that is made of "cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel" (19). In life, capital shaped Marley--as it does Scrooge in the novel's present--from the inside outwards, as if he kept those cash-boxes and ledgers inside his body. Now, in death, he wears them as outward signs, like the markings of his soul, as do all of the ghosts. While the ghosts have their old bodies--Marley still has his "pigtail," Scrooge's old associate still wears his "white waistcoat"--their chains are unique. That ghost in the waistcoat, for instance, has simply "a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle" (26). The ghosts do not appear, however, to have any of Dickens's usual verbal tics or quirks of movement. The ghosts' shackles seem to have displaced the usual Dickensian pathologies, suggesting that in life their eccentricities were motivated by the capital now visible as chains.

From its first sentences, A Christmas Carol concerns itself with what individuates personhood--how and why does the individual engender a distinct feeling in others? And what does it mean when an individual fails to have his or her own distinct affect? The reader learns first that Marley is "dead: to begin with," but that his partner in business, Scrooge, "never painted out old Marley's name.... There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley.... Sometimes, people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him" (9). In the crush of nineteenth-century London, where individuals of the same profession, age, and gender might appear virtually indistinguishable, how does one differentiate one such man from another? In showing the reader Scrooge, who does not, comically, even see a difference between himself and a man who is already dead, Dickens asks this question. Scrooge and Marley's disturbing lack of differentiation is a puzzle that A Christmas Carol solves. By the novel's end, Scrooge is individuated from Marley through, first, the narrative's ghostly uncovering of Scrooge's former selves, who are elucidated through Dickens's signature capital-conscious characterization, and, second, through the in-the-present Scrooge's dawning conception of capital as multiform. In a kind of telescoping etiquette manual, Scrooge watches himself in the visions shown by the Ghosts and is converted by his own negative example, resolving to invest in social capital. The reader watches Scrooge watch his own bad behavior and then his subsequent transformation and finds her own investment in social capital affirmed.

Rather than serving as a universal social type, a negative example of avarice or greed, Scrooge is the mistaken nouveau riche who thinks that money alone signals wealth. The Carol moves him through a reform that ends with his recognition of the value of social and cultural capital and an ability to read others' bodies as signifying their unique possession of capital. From the beginning of the novel to its end, Scrooge's own body telegraphs his composition of wealth--and his experience of this capital--to the reader. We first see Scrooge's movement described as a low temperature that he carries around with him and that spills out to "freeze" his social interaction with those in his community:
The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose,
shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin
lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime
was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried
his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in
the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.... Nobody
ever stopped him in the street to say with gladsome looks, 'My dear
Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?' No beggars
implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was
o'clock, no man or woman ever once in his life inquired the way to
such and such a place, of Scrooge. (10)


This unnaturally low body temperature positions Scrooge's wealth as disfiguring; the mysterious cold that lives within him--marking his body and driving others away from him--allegorizes the composition of his capital; his economic wealth appears to sit within him, stagnant and festering, uninvested in social and cultural forms. By describing Scrooge's actual body as unnaturally cold--as opposed to suggesting metaphorically that he is like the cold--Dickens positions capital as acting not upon Scrooge but from within him. Scrooge's body conveys not only the composition of his capital (economic capital congealed and festering with no diversification), but the affective experience of life structured by this composition of capital: how it withers him from the inside; how it drives others from him; how he is unable to escape the way capital shapes his personality (a helplessness shown in his put-upon air to his nephew, the charitable solicitors, the boy singing carols at his door). At the beginning of the novel, Scrooge is stuck in a loop that he cannot break because he does not understand the value of converting capital into non-economic forms; his body's chilling attributes communicate the affective experience of this stagnant economic wealth (it is akin to a disease) as well as how capital shapes the individual on the basic, intuitive level of the body and how its distortions in turn distort the individual.

Unlike Eliot or Austen, who principally perform their intricate vacillation between type and individual for their protagonists, Dickens animates what we would traditionally consider his minor characters by the same force--capital--that brings his major characters to life. Imbalances in the individual's different forms of capital bring about memorable, distorted characters. Scrooge's bizarrely intemperate body signals his utter lack of social capital in the face of his great economic wealth, immortalizing him to readers. In similarly memorable fashion, Tiny Tim's "active little crutch... heard upon the floor" communicates the lopsidedness of his relatively large social capital (his family, his position in the church community) in comparison to his desperate economic circumstances (50). If you were to name the major characters in A Christmas Carol, Scrooge and Tiny Tim would top this list, and yet, Tiny Tim appears only in a handful of scenes--far less than Scrooge, and certainly less than his father, Bob Cratchit. Scrooge's deformed movement rises from his frozen assets--he does not recognize social and cultural capital, so his composition of capital grows more imbalanced the wealthier he becomes. The Cratchits' youngest son, Tiny Tim, suffers from the same problem in reverse; his movement through the world is literally hobbled by his possession of high levels of social capital in comparison to his economic poverty. We first see Tiny Tim riding on his father's shoulder--his easy movement literally dependent on what Bourdieu calls "social obligations ('connections')" (Bourdieu 16). Otherwise, "he bore a little crutch, and had his limbs supported by an iron frame" (Carol 49).

Like Scrooge's cold temperature, Tiny Tim's ailment is mysterious--no name is given to Tiny Tim's debilitating and potentially fatal illness--and effects his body's movement. Like Scrooge, this external physical marker appears to come from within Tim's body and, yet, is also intimately connected to his place in the world. At the end of the Carol, we learn that Scrooge becomes a second father "to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die," which suggests that Scrooge's interventions make the difference between life and death for the boy (83). Tiny Tim is the foil for Scrooge because he possesses the capital that Scrooge so sorely lacks; in an inverse of Scrooge, Tiny Tim's extreme lack of economic capital both underscores and distorts the abundance of his social capital. Inscribed as the most beloved member of his large family, his pre-Scrooge survival has been predicated on his membership in this group--to be able to "beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly [cry] Hurrah!" along with his siblings at the appearance of the Christmas goose (51). Bob Cratchit reports that Tiny Tim "told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see" (50); Tiny Tim conceptualizes his value in terms of cultural (as a symbol of beloved Biblical stories) and social capital (the usefulness of his humble place in the social system), just as Scrooge only thinks in the economic. The Cratchit family's grief after his death in Christmas Yet to Come further highlights Tiny Tim's social capital; in the bodies of his family, their loss of social capital now that Tim is no longer with them is rendered physically. Bob Cratchit walks "a little slower than he used," despite the fact that, as his wife notes, he has been known to "walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder, very fast indeed" (72). This is the opposite of what the future reveals for Scrooge; he does not see the value in social capital and so no one mourns his death. Bob Cratchit recognizes Tiny Tim's unusual capital when he describes his conduct at church as being "as good as gold... and better," suggesting that Tiny Tim possesses value in a different form than hard currency (50).

As Scrooge and Tiny Tim's movements are shaped by their uneven possession of capital, the ideal characters that Dickens puts forward in the Carol have a marked ease of movement underwritten by their balanced multiform capital. Although Scrooge calls his nephew, Fred, "poor," this does not seem to be quite the case when we view the inside of his house with the Ghost of Christmas Present. Fred and his new wife host a dinner for their friends ("there might have been twenty people there") complete with tea, mulled wine, and dessert; their house is comfortable with "snug corners" (curtains, a sofa, a large chair, and footstool are all mentioned); they own musical instruments (a piano and a harp) (59). Fred appears to be a young, lower-middle-class man on the make--probably one of the city's numerous and well-paid clerks, not unlike Dickens himself a decade before the Carol's publication. For the moment, Fred and his wife are comfortable, but an inheritance or financial help from Scrooge would secure their place in the middle class after they have children, an event which appears imminent; the narrator's mention that Fred's wife sits out blind-man's buff appears to be almost certainly an oblique reference to her pregnancy (59). This pregnancy gives Scrooge's estrangement a particular urgency; not only does the impending birth of the next generation give Scrooge's nephew and his wife greater need for Scrooge's financial help, but it offers a particularly rich opportunity for Scrooge to invest in his own social capital. (18)

Scrooge's nephew and his wife both appear to have a roughly equal investment in social and cultural capital as they do in economic--they have a close circle of friends and keep Christmas merrily. From his relative wealth and his eloquent, unaccented speech (so fine that Scrooge mockingly tells him "I wonder you don't go into Parliament" [12]), we can guess that Fred likely has had some sort of education--and his wife probably has as well--or, at the very least, we learn that she "... was very great" at the game of How, When, and Where, "and to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her sisters hollow: though they were sharp girls too..." (59). Thus, Fred and his wife have modest capital, but, crucially in Dickens's method of individuation, it is evenly distributed. The elegance of their bodies' movement, and their symmetrical, proportionate beauty, is a testament to this state and repeatedly emphasized: we first meet Scrooge's nephew after he "had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost... that he was all in a glow" and learn that "his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled" (11). Like Belle's daughter, the sensuality of Fred's wife is described in the terms of the marketplace: the narrator records her having "a dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face," (my emphasis) which was "what you would have called provoking, you know; but satisfactory, too. Oh, perfectly satisfactory" (56-57). This description codes Fred's wife as both sexually attractive and appropriately wholesome; it testifies to her ideal balance of cultural capital (sex appeal) and social capital (from a large middle-class family). Fred's laugh beckons Scrooge and the reader into the scene of his party out from the lonely Christmas at sea. Scrooge hears this superlative laugh--"if you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to know a man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge's nephew, all I can say is, I should like to know him too"--over the howling of the wind, literally a beacon of a balanced middle-class life-in-capital leading Scrooge out of a void (56).

Fred and his wife seem, potentially, like the new generation not of Scrooge, but of Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig, Scrooge's former employers. Shown to the reader in a scene illuminated by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Fezziwigs represent in the novel the most proportionate, abundant distribution of capital. The party that Scrooge re-lives sees the Fezziwigs bringing together everyone from the neighborhood; these neighbors are listed by the narrator in the process of coming into Mr. Fezziwig's warehouse that has temporarily been converted into a make-shift ballroom and represent a range of occupations and life-stations. This party forms a dense web of social connections; their associations with one another build social capital for all through the Fezziwigs' investment of "but a few pounds of... mortal money" (37). And, once more, in Dickens, the diversity of these characters--the diversity of their capital--is rendered through their movements, how they enter the room: "In they all came, one after another; some shyly, some boldly, some gracefully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling; in they all came, anyhow and everyhow" (35). Like Fred and his wife, the Fezziwigs are distinguished through a grace and beneficence of movement that seems directly connected to their balanced capital, but the Fezziwigs' maturity also seems to confer onto them an added layer of grace, signifying their developed comfort in converting one form of capital into another. Mrs. Fezziwig is just "one vast and substantial smile"--an action made permanent--and Mr. Fezziwig's introductory description is all movement: "Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock, which pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his hands; adjusted his capacious waistcoat; laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice..." (34). Their dance as "top couple"--Mr. Fezziwig's calves appear to issue "a positive light"--exemplifies this idealization as they run through about a dozen dance moves with ease (36).

Scrooge's transformation into a Fezziwig is ultimately self-interested. The scene that moves Scrooge to fully repent is when he sees his own grave, lonely and unattended; its "overrun grass and weeds" (Carol 77) symbolize the neglect of Bourdieu's "network of connections" (Bourdieu 22). When Scrooge sees his name, he begs the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come to "tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!" (Carol 77). He returns to the world of the living resolved to change his interactions with others. The way he does this, however, is deeply revealing of the novel's purpose and worldview. Rather than give up his money to the Cratchits, or make Bob a partner in his business, Scrooge exclaims, in the novel's denouement of generosity, "I'll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!" (83). It turns out that to "honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year" is a winning business strategy; when Scrooge declares that he will "live in the Past, the Present, and the Future" and that "the Spirits of all Three shall strive within me," he is effectively declaring his newfound appreciation of multiform capital (77). After seeing his untended gravesite, Scrooge has learned that, in order for social obligations to "act instantaneously, at the appropriate moment," they must be long-standing, "because the time lag is one of the factors of transmutation of a pure and simple debt into that recognition of nonspecific indebtedness which is called gratitude" (Bourdieu 24). And really this is never in dispute; even before his transformation, while watching his nephew's Christmas party, Scrooge reflects upon hearing a song once dear to him ("a mere nothing: you might learn to whistle it in two minutes") that, "if he could have listened to it often, years ago, he might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands, without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob Marley" (Carol 58). Scrooge's "own happiness" has always been the sole object of the narrative's rescue; he realizes that economic capital is but the most obvious, transient form of wealth and that considerable work must be done to turn it into less ephemeral currencies. A Christmas Carol reveals itself as a technology of economic literacy, showing its reader that modern personhood and multiform capital are not only deeply intertwined, but that wealth is more complicated than simply having money. The modern individual must skillfully invest in the economic, cultural, and social to become truly preeminent.

This logic of characterization dominates Dickens's works outside of A Christmas Carol--in fact, since the beginning, critics have more or less described how capital shapes Dickens's characters, although without using Bourdieu's terms. Edmund Wilson argues that, with Pip in Great Expectations, Dickens achieves "the whole psychological cycle," with "the effects of both poverty and riches... seen from the inside in one person" (65). Rather than conceptualize Dickensian characterization as a method that would evolve by dissolving "the familiar Dickens of the lively but limited stage characters, with their tag lines and their unvarying make-ups" (Wilson 66) into sophisticated later work, I argue that Dickens employed the method of characterization detailed here across his career. The most memorable Dickens characters across his novels are the products of distorted distributions of capital. Poignantly frozen at the moment of her jilting, Miss Havisham appears as the creation of her great economic wealth's traumatic failure to metastasize into the matrimonial and maternal eminence--that particularly feminine form of Victorian cultural capital--seen as the rich young woman's mark of success in the period. Harold Skimpol of Bleak House, a self-professed child, is a man who truly chooses to live off of his social capital, exchanging it for cash in a way seldom employed so literally and with such acumen. Additionally, I argue that David Copperfield and Pip, who have long been seen as Dickens's dull protagonists ("more like bubbles than solids" [Forster 71]), are not actually underwhelming Everymen at all. Majorness in Dickens is dictated not by readerly interest or space taken within the narrative, but by a character's own consciousness of multiform capital and how it functions. This quality is one that David Copperfield, Pip, and Esther Summerson possess from the beginning of their narratives and only come to gain in a greater, deeper quantity. In a Dickens novel, to be "major" is to understand capital's multiform nature and to try and manipulate it for one's own maximum gain; to be memorable is to be distorted by one's possession of uneven forms of capital.

Thus, Dickensian characterization gives to the realist novel a mode of evocatively and vibrantly dramatizing the individual's relationship to capital--a relationship that is, paradoxically, deeply shaping and, yet, most often unconsciously experienced. Bourdieu begins "The Forms of Capital" with the assertion that capital must be considered in realms traditionally considered "disinterested" and non-economic; he argues that capital saturates and structures individual experience so deeply that it most often cannot be articulated by individuals, even to themselves, as a linear or coherent experience. The psychological methods of Austen and Eliot--which can do so much--fail in this realm because, by their very definition, their techniques require consciousness and this is exactly what modern personhood cannot fully attain when it comes to capital. Dickens helps his readers reconcile and process the economic valences of modern personhood, but more than that, he portrays through narrative the emotional story of capital. Dickens's novels push the reader to a partial understanding of capital as multiform, but this knowledge, by necessity, can only be grasped by glimpses, in affects and feelings. At best, the totality of capital's effect is occasionally felt, in oneself and in others, and this is the essentially nonlinear, largely unconscious phenomenon that Dickensian characterization makes visible in its detailed, frenetic description of bodies. Dickens shows how capital structures the deepest of emotions, personal relationships, and domestic sentiments; indeed, Dickensian characterization has appeared mysterious to us precisely because it illuminates the working of capital in places where, by habit, we do not see it.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

NOTES

(1) Critical assessments of Dickens's characters form an extensive history of backhanded compliments. George Orwell derided Dickens's handling of plot, but conceded that he "is obviously a writer whose parts are more than his wholes. He is all fragments, all details--rotten architecture, but wonderful gargoyles--and never better than when he is building up some character who will later on be forced to act inconsistently" (96). E. M. Forster argued that "Dickens' people are nearly all flat," but noted that Dickens's "immense success with types suggests that there may be more in flatness than the severer critics admit" (71-72). And a scathing young Henry James wrote of Dickens that "it is one of the chief conditions of his genius not to sec beneath the surface of things.... He has created nothing but figure. He has added nothing to our understanding of human character" (787). In Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels, J. Hillis Miller writes of Dickens: "Without question, the most striking thing about these novels is the inexhaustible proliferation, within them, of grotesque characters who are altogether unique, each vivid and distinct, each living as the perpetual recnactmcnt of their own peculiar idiosyncrasies" (85).

(2) Within this critical history, Lee Edelman's argument that Scrooge's artificial reform shows the straining of "reproductive futurism" to indoctrinate his proto-queer character into heteronormativity is not to be missed (21-66). Nor should Jonathan H. Grossman's contention be overlooked, arguing that Dickens's depiction of Scrooge--especially his initial aversion to and then newfound enthusiasm for the Christmas holiday--fits the author's tradition of "Jewish figures... [who] turn out to be more like Jewish silences than Jewish constructions" (52).

(3) To this point, in his 2007 article about the open hospitality of A Christmas Carol, Paul K. Saint-Amour details this critical lineage and notes that his take on the novel leaves him "swimming against a prevailing current in Carol scholarship during the last sixty-five years. The sense that A Christmas Carol is a foreclosed or ideologically self-replicating text merely disguised as an open one has been shared by critics of a range of theoretical persuasions" (113).

(4) "His characters arc never mere lay figures expressing certain aspects of the social reality he wants to present," Lukacs writes of Balzac. "The aggregate of social determinants is expressed in an uneven, intricate, confused and contradictory pattern, in a labyrinth of personal passions and chance happenings. The characters and situations are always determined by the totality of the socially decisive forces, but never simply and never directly" (53-54).

(5) In contrast, for Lukacs, Emilc Zola's failure to create types is what makes him an inferior novelist to Balzac; Lukacs argues that, in contrast, Zola "always seeks the average, and this grey statistical mean, the point at which all internal contradictions are blunted, where the great and the petty, the noble and the base, the beautiful and the ugly are all mediocre 'products' together, spells the doom of great literature" (91). Lukacs argues that, despite Zola's progressive politics, Balzac, the Royalist, is the one who exposes the ills of dawning capitalism and its social hierarchy through his typed characters (91-92).

(6) As I will discuss, Scrooge raising Bob Cratchit's wages at the end of the Carol epitomizes this irony. While the narrative previously mocked Scrooge for suggesting the workhouses as a solution to poverty, the narrative presents this latter provision as sufficient remedy for the ills of capitalism. As the result of Scrooge's core-shaking experience with the Spirits, this wage raise appears humorously conservative, especially in comparison to other imagined compensations--like a handsome lump-sum gift or turning the business over to Bob himself.

(7) Jameson contends that, first, Lukacs's theory "fails to identify the typifying of characters as an essentially allegorical phenomenon, and thus does not furnish any adequate account of the process whereby a narrative becomes endowed with allegorical meanings or levels," and, second, "implies an essentially one-to-one relationship between individual characters and their social or historical reference, so that the possibility of something like a system of characters remains unexplored" (162).

(8) The most prominent theory of Dickensian characterization in recent years--Alex Woloch's The One vs. the Many--is centered on Dickens and Balzac, but does not continue in Lukacs and Jameson's Marxist vein. Woloch portrays Dickens's method through a different economy altogether: that of readerly attention. He argues that Dickens's minor characters arc memorable because their minimal role in the narrative contrasts with their exaggerated idiosyncratic characteristics (35). He puts Dickens's method in the socio-psychological terms that dominate the discussion of the other realist novel standard-bearers--Austen, Eliot, and James--in theories of character like Catherine Gallagher's "George Eliot: Immanent Victorian" and D. A. Miller's Jane Austen, or the Secret of Style.

(9) After the publication of A Christmas Carol, Dickens wrote his friend and solicitor, Thomas Mitton, "When I see the effect of such a little whole as that, on those for whom I care, I have a strong sense of the immense effect I could produce with an entire book" (Letters 606). Dickens had published five novels at this point in his career, but the Carol was the first book-length work that he had written entirely before its publication. While Dickens would continue to use the serial form for his later novels, the experience of writing "a little whole" nevertheless marked a turning point for him as a novelist; beginning with his next full-length novel, Domhey and Son (1848), Dickens wrote out the plans for each number in advance (Schor 3).

(10) Rather than the creation of categorical ironies central to characterization in Eliot's method, Dickens's method of building the individual relics, instead, on animating his or her possession of capital through physical descriptions of his or her body. In her theory of Eliot's characterization, Catherine Gallagher begins with a reading of Dickens's Great Expectations (1861) but moves on from Dickens to discuss Eliot's method and how it epitomizes characterization in the novel ("George Eliot" 61). For Gallagher, Eliot's dichotomy between type and particular defines characterization in the realist novel, and she argues that Eliot turns this into "the dynamo of her narratives"; Eliot masters "the plight that belongs specifically to novel characters--that they are supposed to illustrate types from which they must depart" (66). In other words, Eliot's characters perform a referential balancing act; they invoke type in order to appear socially plausible, yet deviate enough from this template so that they arc never just social clichds. Like real people, Eliot's characters embody and transcend the social categories that define them.

(11) In this way, Dickensian characterization mimics how Londoners encountered one another in the chaos of the metropolis--age and gender being, often, the two qualities easiest to discern on sight. In his recent study The Comfort of Strangers, Gage McWeeny analyzes the effect urbanization--specifically the rise of interacting with strangers as part of daily life--had on the novel. McWeeny notes that "with London's population passing the one million mark by 1800, the very quantity of the city's inhabitants brought new experiences of social multiplicity into daily life"; Dickensian characterization would seem to be one of the ways in which "literary form responds to the figurational challenges posed by the unmet and the unknown..." (McWeeny 3). In a similar vein, in The Country and the City, Raymond Williams writes that
Dickens's ultimate vision of London... lies in the form of his novels:
in their kind of narrative, in their method of characterization, in
their genius for typification. It docs not matter which way we put it:
the experience of the city is the fictional method; or the fictional
method is the experience of the city. What matters is that the
vision--no single vision either, but a continual dramatization--is the
form of the writing. (154)


(12) By 1850, middle-class Victorians were about 20 percent of the population in Britain and wielded disproportionate cultural influence. These cultural values were, broadly, "a cult of the home and family" centered around the Victorian wife; a "profound religiosity," inflected by the evangelical revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century; education; an entrepreneurial spirit; and liberalism (Heyck 247-52).

(13) Numerous critics have discussed Dickens and capital, and my theory joins these Marxist and Marxist-inflected accounts in seeing capitalism as central to Dickens's method. Other critics' work on how Dickens illustrates a reality that cannot be narrated through the psychological methods of Austen or Eliot have shaped my own argument here. For instance, J. Jeffrey Franklin's argument that, like Bourdieu in "The Forms of Capital," many mid-Victorian novels seek "to render visible other, repressed forms of capital: social and cultural" (502), has influenced my own, as has Andrew Smith's assertion that "A Christmas Carol represents a fictional attempt to make money visible" in the wake of mid-Victorian anxieties about financial speculation (37). Additionally, in Between Men, Eve Sedgwick's description of Our Mutual Friend as having a characterological system in which "contrasts of class appear under the guise of contrasts of personality and sexuality" (166) marks in Dickens the connection between socioeconomic position and personality in which I am interested. My contention that Dickens sees the body as the detailed arbiter of an individual's unique capital also aligns him with Victorian notions of political economy that Catherine Gallagher identifies in The Body Economic. In this work, Gallagher asserts that "the open secret [is] that money is always ultimately taken out of flesh. That is, the horror is not that human flesh becomes money, but that money is just a metaphor for human flesh" (94). This insight has led me to consider how Dickens docs not sec money and the body as separate entities, but indistinguishable life forces.

(14) In Modern Romance and the Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, Dickens, Ian Duncan notes the importance of this kind of allegory to Victorian fiction, arguing that Walter Scott creates "the capacious form of the mid-Victorian apocalyptic social allegory of Dickens, Thackeray, Gaskell, Eliot and Trollope" (150). In Other Dickens, John Bowen's reading of Nell and Oliver Twist tracks with my understanding of Dickens as using a complicated, nonconventional form of allegory; "Like Nell's, Oliver's presence is extremely close to allegory," he writes. "Like Nell he exists not as allegory but 'in a kind of allegory', something akin to allegory, a simile of an allegory, but not exactly one" (137-38).

(15) My view of Dickensian characterization here joins recent critical trends that have sought to trouble the traditional conception of the novel as depicting psychological inferiority above other functions. This traditional psychological view of the novel has left Dickens's method of characterization comparatively under-theorized. Franco Moretti's emphasis on data and mapping; Melina Moe's theory of Charlotte Lucas in Austen's Pride and Prejudice as offering an alternative to Elizabeth Bonnet's model of liberal personhood; Sandra McPherson's linking of the novel to contemporary developments in liability law that construed the individual as "matter in motion"--these scholars exemplify just a few of the recent efforts to imagine the novel's engagement and contribution to modernity outside of liberal personhood.

(16) In "The Genres of A Christmas Carol" J. Hillis Miller has also suggested that the Carol rewrites Christian mythology, arguing that "the Carol is Dickens's version of the New Testament miracle of the loaves and fishes or of Jesus's parable of the sower..." (199). Of course, the title of Dickens's novel itself suggests that it is a new addition to--or rewriting of--traditional Christmas carols, which themselves most often retell the story of the Nativity.

(17) After he finished writing A Christmas Carol, Dickens--as he described it himself in a letter--"broke out like a Madman" (Douglas-Fairhurst xix). Douglas-Fairhust describes how after finishing the novel Dickens engaged in "a whirl of parties, conjuring performances and dancing, as if he secretly worried that there would be something unhealthily Scrooge-like about staying in one place for too long during the festive season" (xix).

(18) Given Victorian attitudes about the safety of robust movement for pregnant women, this seems very likely. As Lillian Nayder catalogs in her biography of Catherine Dickens, Victorian doctors "considered the performance of 'fatiguing' domestic tasks as well as walking to be physically injurious towards the end of a pregnancy, and 'every kind of agitating exercise' throughout" (70) and, according to his letters to his wife, Dickens heeded these warnings--at least early in his marriage. The niece's pregnancy is reinforced by implication, again, at the end of the narrative, when Scrooge startles the young couple by walking into their dining room and reflects, "Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started! Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting in the comer with the footstool, or he wouldn't have done it, on any account" (81).

WORKS CITED

Bourdieu, Pierre. "The Forms of Capital." Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed. J. Richardson. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1986.

Bowen, John. Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Ed. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. New York: Oxford UP, 2006.

----. David Copperfield. New York: Oxford UP, 1997.

----. The Letters of Charles Dickens. Ed. Madeline House, Graham Storey, and Kathleen Tillotsen. Vol. 3. New York: Clarendon, 1965-2002.

Douglas-Fairhurst, Robert. "Introduction." A Christmas Carol. Ed. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. New York: Oxford UP, 2006. vii-xxix.

Duncan, Ian. Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, Dickens. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992.

Edelman, Lee. No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2004.

Fletcher, Angus. Allegory: A Theory of a Symbolic Mode. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2012.

Forster, E. M. Aspects of the Novel. New York: Mariner Books, 1956.

Franklin, J. Jeffrey. "Anthony Trollope Meets Pierre Bourdieu: The Conversion of Capital as Plot in the Mid-Victorian British Novel." Victorian Literature and Culture 31.1 (2003): 501-21.

Gilbert, Elliot L. "The Ceremony of Innocence: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol." PMLA 90.1 (1975): 22-31.

Gallagher, Catherine. The Body Economic. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2008.

----. "George Eliot: Immanent Victorian." Representations 90.1 (2005): 61-74.

Grossman, Jonathan H. "The Absent Jew in Dickens: Narrators in Oliver Twist, Our Mutual Friend, and A Christmas Carol." Dickens Studies Annual 24 (1996): 37-57.

Heyck, Thomas William. The Peoples of the British Isles: From 1688 to 1870. 3rd ed. Chicago: Lyceum Books, 2008.

Home, R. H. "A New Spirit of the Age, Westminster Review." Ed. Philip Collins. Charles Dickens: The Critical Heritage. New York: Routledge, 2009. 150-53.

Jaffe, Audrey. "Spectacular Sympathy: Visuality and Ideology in Dickens's A Christmas Carol." PMLA 109.2 (1994): 254-65.

James, Henry. "Our Mutual Friend." The Nation (1865): 786-87.

Jameson, Frederic. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1982.

Kornbluh, Anna. Realizing Capital: Financial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form. New York: Fordham UP, 2014.

Lynch, Deidre. The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1998.

Lukacs, Gyorgy. Studies in European Realism. New York: Howard Fertig, 2002.

McWeeny, Gage. The Comfort of Strangers: Social Life and Literary Form. New York: Oxford UP, 2016.

Miller, J. Hillis. Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1958.

----. "The Genres of A Christmas Carol." Dickensian 89 (1993): 193-206.

Nayder, Lillian. The Other Dickens. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2012.

Orwell, George. A Collection of Essays. New York: Mariner Books, 1970.

Poovey, Mary. Genres of the Credit Economy: Mediating Value in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2008.

Saint-Amour, Paul K. '"Christmas Yet to Come': Hospitality, Futurity, the Carol, and 'The Dead.'" Representations 98.1 (2007): 93-117.

Schor, Hilary. "Dombey and Son: The Daughter's Nothing." Dickens, Sexuality and Gender. Ed. Lillian Nayder. New York: Routledge, 2016. 3-19.

Sedgwick, Eve. Between Men. New York: Columbia UP, 1985.

Smith, Andrew. "Dickens' Ghosts: Invisible Economies and Christmas." Victorian Review 31.2 (2005): 36-55.

Vogel, Jane. Allegory in Dickens. Tuscaloosa, AL: U of Alabama P, 1977.

Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City. New York: Oxford UP, 1975.

Wilson, Edmund. "Dickens: The Two Scrooges." The Wind and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature. Houghton Mifflin, 1941.

Woloch, Alex. The One vs. the Many: Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2004.
COPYRIGHT 2019 Johns Hopkins University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2019 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and Pierre Bourdieu's "The Forms of Capital"
Author:Young, Rosetta
Publication:Studies in the Novel
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jun 22, 2019
Words:10792
Previous Article:FUZZY LOGIC: MODERN MATHEMATICS AND MYOPIC AESTHETICS IN MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT.
Next Article:"ALIVE TO DISTANT, AND DEAD TO NEAR": MASOCHISM, SUICIDE, AND MASCULINITY IN NORTH AND SOUTH.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters