Consolidations: Dickens and Seacole [chapter]

Elahe Haschemi Yekani
2020 Familial Feeling  
AbstractDiscussing Charles Dickens's American Notes for General Circulation and Bleak House in conjunction with Mary Seacole's Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands this chapter traces a crucial shift in mid-nineteenth-century literature which consolidates British imperialism via "enlightened" differentiation from the United States and culminates in the more paternalistic rhetoric following the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion. While travelling both authors construct conciliatory images of the
more » ... tory images of the English home that do not overtly challenge the sensibilities of the British reading audience. In her travel account, Seacole utilises a confident tone often directly addressing her readers more familiarly than the Black authors before her. Dickens too uses excessive overt narrative comment to promote an idea of a shared sense of indignation at lacking American manners in his travelogue and at the misguided international philanthropy of Mrs Jellyby in Bleak House. Both their consolidating tonalities rest less on complex introspection than on an explicit reassuring British familiarity. However, while Dickens increasingly understands British familial feeling as tied to whiteness, Seacole contests such racialised conceptions of national belonging.
doi:10.1007/978-3-030-58641-6_5 fatcat:3u3dhvvjafc7dhapkwmuph7kou