I raced through the final hundred or so pages of Little Dorrit yesterday, my friend, and on many levels, it was a very satisfying ending, as I’ve come to expect from you. Will Rigaud get his just desserts? Of course he will! And in another fantastically over-the-top dramatic death, no less. Will Tattycoram come around? Of course she will (although to be honest the feminist in me was kind of hoping that she’d be able to find a happy middle ground between the count-to-25 of Meagles and the everyone’s-out-to-get-you Mrs. Wade). Will Pancks free himself from his passive aggressive employer? You bet your quarterly rents he will! Will Flora calm down and back off? Well… maybe?
And the big question: Will Amy and Arthur get together? Well, duh, this is you, Mr. Dickens, and you wouldn’t let me down. Thanks Charlie. After being scarred by Game of Thrones recently, I truly appreciate your only killing off the characters who deserved it, and then seeing everyone else happily off into the sunset.
But that central mystery of Clennam’s: what does the ‘do not forget’ in the watch mean and was there some injustice perpetrated against the Dorrits by the Clennams? You remember, the one Arthur spends the entire book trying to figure out. Well, it turns out to be not that big a deal. It is to Mrs. Clennam, of course – the poor woman has been stewing in righteous anger and feelings of grim betrayal for decades, and taking it out on poor Arthur. And she gets nothing for her martyrdom but a nice, juicy dose of blackmail by a cheesy stage villain.
But really, once you get right to the nitty gritty of Mrs. Clennam’s angry explanation, shocking as it may have been during your era, Charlie, it didn’t really have any huge ramifications for anyone else but her (and maybe Flintwich). That, and even after reading the section through twice, I’m still not entirely clear on why, exactly, Amy was due anything at all (and since she doesn’t seem to mind not getting it, I’m not going to lose sleep over it). There was a moment there where I thought that Amy and Arthur were somehow related, in some surreal Dickensian Luke and Leia kind of way, but I’m pretty sure my fears are groundless (whew!). Regardless, the new Mr. and Mrs. Clennam can start their new lives with a clean, if poor, slate.
The bigger deal is what happens when Merdle’s speculations crumble, taking everyone down with him. Merdle may take the coward’s way out, but if there’s a real villain of the piece, it has to be him. It’s interesting to put his quiet, self-effacing character beside Rigaud’s sinister flamboyance. Sure Rigaud is up to no good, but he’s after small game in a small sphere, and even there he’s far from successful. Merdle, on the other hand, plays the game on a grand scale, and yet he remains an enigma – was his quiet, socially uncomfortable demeanour simply a ruse to hide his crimes? Or were people so blinded by his apparent wealth and success that they assumed he had a competence in money matters that he never had or claimed to have? Here, you’re rich, have some of my money too! It’s interesting, Charlie, that you who have such a flare for creating memorable characters, have left Mr. Merdle so ambiguously drawn. Very sneaky.
So now I’m off to the French Revolution! And thinking back to how well you fused fiction and history in Barnaby Rudge, I have high hopes.
P.S. Oh, and we hit our 20,000th visitor, my friend! I’m in happy awe (awppy? hawe?), and I hope you are too.