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Chibiabos83
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

You remind me that the thing that tickled me most about Great Expectations when I first read it was a joke of repetition - Pumblechook's constant entreaties to shake Pip's hand - 'May I?' - after Pip starts to go up in the world.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if those repetitive leitmotifs do work better visually and show comic intent more.  I didn't ever find Skimpole in the least bit funny and on the written page Mrs Pipchin isn't either.  They both support the themes and contrast with other people, but they are not portrayed as humorous at all, I think.  (But I think they both could be on stage or in the cinema though I also think that part of the power of their characters would be lost from this.)

The phrases you give, Himadri, are very definitely comic (and generally of pretty awful comedy too!). They don't seem to have much point beyond their comic effect (which wears thin quite quickly often).  

But I just think Dickens should have trusted his audience more.  I don't know how many times in a couple of chapters the phrase about the Peruvian mines and Mrs Pipchin's husband was mentioned but it was considerable.  I would like a little more subtlety for these characters who are, as you say, not there just for fun and interest; they are there very definitely to emphasize a point.  Captain Mainwaring on the written page could be shown as pompous, for instance, without the same phrase used every time he is mentioned, and so could Skimpole's meanness and manipulative behaviour and complete lack of innocence.


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TheRejectAmidHair



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do actually find Skimpole very funny, although the humour is by this stage very pointed. But humour is a very subjective matter, so I won't insist on it.

Repeated motifs on the printed page can be funny also, as Gareth's example above demonstrates. Bertie Wooster is always a silly ass, always in danger if getting hitched to Madeleine Bassett, and Jeeves is always extricating him from tight corners. There are plenty of other examples. Even on the printed page, repetition is the basis of comedy.

But as I said, by the time Dickens got on to Bleak House, the repetition wasn't merely for comic purposes. And it seems to me that Dickens was expecting a great deal from his readership to take in & pick up his subtle and sophisticated use of these motifs.

I think we've been here before, Caro: if we insist that Dickens' repetitions exist merely to hammer home a particular point to the reader, then, yes, they are indeed unsubtle and tedious. But if, as I suggest, Dickens was attempting something more ambitious, then I really don't think the charge of unsubtlety, or of not trusting the reader, holds.

I seem to remember in the dim & distant past writing a long post demonstrating in some detail how Skimpole's adult-as-child motif unexpectedly interacts with the caged birds motif at an important point in the novel. This sort of sophistication hardly indicates a lack of trust in his readership.



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TheRejectAmidHair



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS

Caro wrote:
The phrases you give, Himadri, are very definitely comic (and generally of pretty awful comedy too!). They don't seem to have much point beyond their comic effect (which wears thin quite quickly often).  


What? - Stan & Ollie, Dad's Army, Monty Python, Father Ted, Fawlty Towers, etc,. are awful comedy? No ... I'm not having that!  Very Happy



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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You shouldn't have started with Benny Hill, then!  (I didn't notice these posts before now for some reason.)

Wooster is always a silly ass and Jeeves always rescuing him (and on the telly at least I do rather wish sometimes Bertie could get the better of him occasionally!) but not in identical words.  That's what I object to in Dickens' portrayals.  The absolute repetition of words, not of the type of person.  

I wanted to talk about Dombey and Son and am wondering about taking the discussion here about it off to Novels.  Might find that too much trouble.


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TheRejectAmidHair



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was Dick Emery I started with, not Benny Hill. Just as classy, though... Wink

Repetition of catchphrases is a staple of comedy, and always has been, I think.



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Chibiabos83
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No need to keep going on about it...


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Marita



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Repetition is not only used in comedy. Think about Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and how often the phrase  ‘Brutus is an honourable man, so are they all, all honourable men’ is repeated.




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Joe McWilliams



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife and I have taken to watching episodes of Heartbeat which airs here Saturday nights - probably years after it appeared in the UK, but that's beside the point. The point being that I'm reading Martin Chuzzlewit at the same time and of course it is chock full of pompous buffoons spouting hyperbole pretty much non-stop. So much so it comes as a positive relief to encounter the occasional character that seems somewhat 'ordinary,' and one yearns for more of them.
What I'm getting at is that the Heartbeat characters Vernon Scripps and his clumsy but honest sidekick David appear to have been pinched whole from Dickens. I feel I'm watching Pecksniff and Pinch, transposed to 1960s Yorkshire. The impression becomes stronger each week, as I plough on through Chuzzlewit.
It makes one reflect upon the breadth of the Dickens influence. I'm sure it's vast - no reason to doubt it.


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Caro



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I came here to talk about Dickens and Great Expectations, but have got sidetracked by the other discussions, especially the comic bits.  We are watching Heartbeat too, Joe, and have got to the end, but now they are repeating some but have not gone back far enough and we are just seeing again the last couple of series, as far as I can tell.  I hadn't thought of Dickens as regards David and Vernon Scripps (though now we are onto Vernon's brother, Bernie, who has a different character and personality, though you could see Dickensian elements to him).  

There isn't much comedy so far in GE.  But I am very impressed with Dickens' understanding of how children feel.  He has Pip feeling totally guilty about stealing a meat pie from Joe's and his sister's pantry, and certain he is going to land in jail.  Never mind that they are for an escaped criminal.  It is part of a pattern for Pip, I feel.  He feels equally guilty for not enjoying his indenture to be apprenticed to Joe, having got a taste for middle-class life at Miss Havisham's (though why her house makes him feel his is 'low', I don't quite understand, as her room is covered in cobwebs and in the same state as it was when she was jilted at (or near) the altar.  

The depictions of life in the Gargery house would have the family and especially Mrs Joe taken to court nowadays.  The casual cruelty is commonplace.  As I think I said above, I don't know if this was actually the way kids were generally treated in the 19th C or just Dickens' own experience.



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