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Dickens's VillainsMelodrama, Character, Popular Culture$
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Juliet John

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198184614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184614.001.0001

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Melodramatic Poetics and the Gothic Villain: Interiority, Deviance, Emotion

Melodramatic Poetics and the Gothic Villain: Interiority, Deviance, Emotion

(p.95) 4 Melodramatic Poetics and the Gothic Villain: Interiority, Deviance, Emotion
Dickens's Villains

Juliet John (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the relation of melodramatic poetics and the Gothic villain, in the context of interiority, deviance, and emotion. The Gothic villain could be termed the ‘real melodramatic villain’: he is the most passionate and the most stupid of all villains. His importation into Dickens's novels typifies and tests Dickens's anti-intellectual project. It is Dickens's unintelligent, passionate, and violent villains who have provided the vehicle for the most universally admired evocations of ‘interiority’ in the Dickens canon. The Gothic villain epitomises the fusion between the ‘macabre’ and the ‘melodramatic’ at the centre of Dickens's project. This chapter explores the aesthetic means by which Dickens renders the intense passions upon which his melodramatic art depends, and the ideologies that attend Dickens's novelistic melodrama. If Dickens's melodramatic methods of characterisation appear to be obvious and widely recognised, the melodramatic characteristics of Dickens's prose poetics have received little attention.

Keywords:   melodramatic poetics, Gothic villain, Charles Dickens, novels, villains, melodrama, prose poetics

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