Date of Award
University or Center
Atlanta University (AU)
School of Arts and Sciences
Dr. E. J. Higgins
A Comparative Analysis of Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44) and Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad (1869))
To gain understanding of the selected works by these specific authors, to learn how each as a satirist of society was preoccupied with current ethical contradictions and social injustices, and to determine how each as a satirist of society had the ability to transcribe them into terms of art without necessarily resolving them.
To show how Dickens and Twain presented their criticism of European as well as American society, and to determine that the influences and ideas of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit, with its grotesque characters, of which the greatest two comic triumphs are Pecksniff, a typical representative of hypocrisy, and Mrs. Gamp, with her Gampian language linked to a world of money-lending, sickness and birth, are inherent in Twain's influences and ideas in The Innocents Abroad, with its topically cogent but universalized societal criticism.
To show how Dickens, like Carlyle with his anti-democratic views, molded his imagination into artistic form with people, characteristic mannerisms and the sounds of individual voices possessed of pathos, but also possessed of humor, ridicule and sarcasm; to show how he adhered to the gospel of self-renunciation, that is, turning to his own intuition to convey ideas in allusions, colloquialisms, rhetorical flights and a medley of autobiography, romance, satire, ethics and humor; and to show how Dickens based the responsibilities of historians, social reformers and prophets on transcendentalism.
An effort is also made to equate Dickens' attitude toward religion with that of Carlyle, as well as his opposition to mechanistic materialism, because he too was concerned in rescuing society from materialism, greed, irresponsibility, uncontrolled competition and industrial chaos.
On the other hand, an attempt is made to show Twain as similar to Emerson, the most influential spokesman of American transcendentalism, who advocated the divinity of man; to show Twain's attitude toward what he must accept, as well as toward what he must reject. In other words, I hope to show Twain exercising the individualistic and rebellious tendencies of transcendentalism through his intuition, favoring material nature as a symbol of the divine and deeming that each individual self must exercise the democratic principle of free will in order to discover truth without the aid of traditional authority, as with Huckleberry Finn, whose ultimate salvation came when he rejected, of his own choice, the values of society by following his own conscience. Consequently, I hope to confirm that Twain played variations on a familiar theme which Emerson expressed — the spiritual foundation and moral implications of a new democracy. The theme postulates, then, the dilemma of democracy, wherein an individual either lives and acts as an uncumbered individual or cravenly yields to the distortion of personality required by society. Twain makes his presentation, however, in an antiromantic stream, with myth interwoven with fantasy, realism and satire.
What is attempted, therefore, is to prove that each body of work portrays society through social criticism and imaginative transcendentalism, as well as romanticism, but offers no direct counsel for the reconstruction of a society which has the dominant image of a "fallen Eden," and that Dickens and Twain possessed a dualistic consciousness of capitalism, mechanistic materialism, and morality.
Type of Research: Assimilation and use of materials focused on primary sources which will require a thorough search for materials dealing with topic.
Atlanta University Library
Georgia State Library
Emory University Library
Atlanta Public Library
Teachers’ Reference Library
(Atlanta Public Schools)
Thomas, Ora Lee, "A comparative analysis of Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44) and Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad (1869)" (1974). ETD Collection for AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library. 1304.