Oliver Smithies Lecture: 'Edith's Two Bodies'

It is a critical commonplace to remark on Charles Dickens’ penchant for orphaned characters, but what of Dickens’ mothers? Motherhood is a peculiarly difficult role to fill for Dickens, with either over-indulgence or neglect as standard habit of care. In many ways, the only good Dickensian mother is a dead one. This lecture examines Edith Dombey from Dickens’ 1848 novel Dombey and Son as a test case, and examines the role Edith’s varied familial ties play in the novel’s plot and form.