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Empiredemarcationand home in dombey and son

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  • Economics
  • Education
  • Philosophy


-115- AX~~ *~mli*~X~$~~ ~47~ mU5t-/ffi 19951¥-llSJ{'""133J{ Empire, Demarcation, and Home in Dombey and Son* Takanobu Tanaka Nina Auerbach, in her essay concerning the schism and confrontation between the masculine and feminine spheres in Dombey and San (1846-48), contends that "unlike other overweening institutions in Dickens' novels - Chancery in Bleak House, or the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit - Dombey and Son is defined in terms that are sexual and metaphysical rather than social. "1 I think this perception arises from her exclusion of the British empire as a social reality in the novel. It is true that Dombey and San is, like other major mid-nineteenth-century fiction, a "domestic" novel in which the empire, though not ignored, remains largely an offstage reality. But is her utter disregard of social elements justified? In fact, Dombey and San often contains mention of the colonies in politico-economical connection with Britain. In the first place, the existence of the House itself is closely related to colonial trade. It is clearly shown in the facts that the merchant Dombey's name is widelY known and revered in the "British possessions abroad" (127) ,2 and the junior clerk Walter Gay is sent off to Barbados, the site of * This essay is a revised version of part of the lecture given in the great autumn meeting of Japan branch of the Dickens Fellowship( Oct. 9, 1993; College of Culture and Communication, Tokyo Woman's Christian Univ.). (947 ) -116- considerable controversy since the emancipation of the slaves there in 1833, the fall of sugar production during the 1830s and 1840s, and the Sugar Equalization Act in 1846, which removed protection on sugar from the West Indies. Besides, many overseas territories are referred to in the novel. Master Bitherstone is sent into Britain for education from his father's place of appointment, Bengal. Major Bagstock's career introduced by Miss Tox suggests how the Indies were exploited by the British military strength: "'

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