Dickens in Bleak House as a member of the system: an Althusserian reading

Aytül Özüm
2012 Hacettepe Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Dergisi  
Charles Dickens's critique of the defects of the British judiciary system in Bleak House (1852-53) derives from his own experiences as a law clerk trying to own copyright for his earlier works. According to Althusser, the state creates secure and protected lives for the individuals and warrantees their consent, using what he calls ideological state apparatuses. For him, the power of the state is maintained more subtly in capitalistic systems. Bleak House not only explicates how ideological
more » ... apparatuses devour and in fact falsify the rights of the individuals within the framework of the suit called Jarndyce and Jarndyce but also fictionalises many examples about the interpellation of the individuals by these social institutions in the Victorian Age. These apparatuses in fact interpellate individuals as fixed subjects, which means that they form the individual's very reality and therefore appear as true or obvious. Two-narratored structure of the novel lays bare the ideological conflict though, thus it becomes evident that Dickens delibaretely blends in harmony the ideological inscriptions suggested by the first and the third person narrators of the work. The artfulness of Dickens is a means to display how ideologies change and shape people's perceptions of reality. Jarndyce and Jarndyce, the suit which lasts for many years and ends by consuming even the property itself, proves that there are fixed roles designed for the individuals and subjects can neither change nor negate their roles and the injustice. When analysed through the Althusserian lens, it becomes obvious that Dickens knew the limits of political and social reform in his age and he had to be politically correct while playing the expected role as a novelist and criticising the fallacies of his age in Bleak House.
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