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Analysis

Literary Devices in Little Dorrit

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

When Arthur comes back from China, he brings his mom his dead father's watch, which has the inscription D.N.F. engraved on it, which stands for "Do Not Forget." That's all well and good, but this...

Setting

Much of the novel is set in Victorian London, but also moves throughout Europe as the newly-wealthy Dorrits travel. For some general background on the time period Dickens was writing Little Dorrit,...

Narrator Point of View

A good way to think about the way this novel is narrated is to imagine that at any point, in any scene, the narrator is the smartest guy in the room. And not just the smartest guy, but a guy who w...

Genre

Family DramaSo what's really at the bottom of Little Dorrit? Shmoop's money is on family. Pretty much every character is given a thorough backstory to give us a sense of where he or she has learn...

Tone

In a way, the only real topic of this novel is injustice and mistreatment. It's in every power relationship, every financial interaction, every family dynamic, and every meeting between the govern...

Writing Style

Moralizing, Polemical, Pointedly Critical, Dismayed, PessimisticIt's hard not to recognize Dickens's writing when you run across it. He uses a set of totally idiosyncratic tricks, flourishes, and...

What's Up With the Title?

At first glance, this feels like one of Dickens's many "main character's name" style of titles. He's got Nicholas Nickleby, Martin Chuzzlewit, Oliver Twist, Barnaby Rudge, David Copperfield…and...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

What's Up With the Ending?

What's up with the ending, indeed. Usually Shmoop uses this section to do a little song and dance about what the end of the novel means. But honestly, this time around we're thinking we've got to...

Tough-o-Meter

OK, we won't kid you. Dickens's novels are no skip around the park. They're well worth the effort, but the effort certainly has to be made. This one has a couple of things you have to learn to w...

Plot Analysis

Everybody is in chains, everybody pants for freedom.Nearly every character starts out somehow enslaved. Dorrit is literally in prison and Amy Dorrit is mired in drudgery trying to take care of him...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Boy is there ever initial wretchedness. The Marshalsea prison is the most depressing place on earth, with no sunlight, laughter, or anything else that might lighten the life of unhappy Amy, who sl...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

The Dorrits are deep in debt and deep in the service of their father's pretentions to former gentility.Pancks discovers that the Dorrits are actually fabulously wealthy and they go off to a complet...

Trivia

Steaminess Rating

Sure, there's lots of illicit and otherwise taboo sex going on in this book, but come on, guys, it's a mainstream novel from the 19th century – it's not like Dickens is suddenly going to go all s...

Allusions

The Arabian Nights (1.3)Shakespeare, Hamlet (1.3)Minotaur's Maze (1.5)Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1.13)The Whole Duty of Man (1.13)Doctor Buchan, Domestic Medicine (1.16)Lord Chesterfield (1.19)Plutarc...
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