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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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Dickens and Dandyism: Masking Interiority

Dickens and Dandyism: Masking Interiority

(p.141) 6 Dickens and Dandyism: Masking Interiority
Dickens's Villains

Juliet John (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Dickens and the concept of dandyism. It focuses on gentlemen when they are villains, although a villain cannot be a true gentleman in Dickens's writings. For Dickens, a gentleman stops being a gentleman when the appearance of gentility is more important than the moral elevation that should ideally characterise the gentleman. He becomes a villain when gentility ceases to be an end in itself and becomes the means to attain power, status, and money; thus, the means to gratify the self. Dickens's dandies suggest that manners and morals are not always synonymous, and that a gentleman on the outside may not be a gentleman on the inside. The dandy is ideally a passionless person, an actor to the core. His recurrence in Dickens's fiction suggests Dickens's fascination with the possibility of a selfless human being, and his concern about the larger causes and effects of dandyism.

Keywords:   Charles Dickens, dandyism, villains, gentility, manners, morals, gentleman

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