2013 | 19 | 70-88
Article title

Retoryka codziennej traumy ("Dombey i syn" Charlesa Dickensa)

Title variants
The Rhetoric of Everyday Trauma ("Dombey and son" by Charles Dickens)
Languages of publication
The rhythm of Victorian family life, described by Dickens, was subordinated to a sense of unfulfilled expectations. Parents and children lives take place in the shadow of death. Each subsequent chapter builds the atmosphere of a fearful waiting for disaster. Death of his wife, and later the death of Dombey’s company successor, is a trauma, with which other family members cope in different ways. Dombey, until he can, plays the role of a heartless statue, and his selfishness hurts a lot of people, including the only character who loved him, i.e. his daughter. Florence is subjected to various tests of fate, until she finally accepts the orphanage and creates a new family system, based on a deep and unconditional love of all its members. Dickens argues that trauma is a painful experience that may soften love. The article draws attention to two of this type of experience in the writer's life that shaped his sensitivity to the social harm of children. The interpretations of Dickens in English highlighted the social role of the theatre of everyday life. They interpreted unilaterally the behaviour of characters as a form of protest against the values of bourgeois life, while spared the psychological issues and the question of love as an optimistic message of the novel. This work is intended to indicate a different direction of analysing the novel. Recalling the findings and theoretical works on trauma (its understanding, describing and research) by Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman, and Maja Lis-Turlejska, a dramatic and difficult relationship of the father and daughter in Dickens ’ "Dombey and son" was analysed. Application of the concepts of trauma, and the post-traumatic stress disorder, and so called basic hope will allow to recognise Dombey and Florence as a deeply unhappy, and hurt characters, who are consequently unable to communicate properly their needs and desires.
  • Uniwersytet Pedagogiczny im. KEN
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
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