by Charles Dickens
William Dorrit Timeline and Summary
- In his 30s, Dorrit loses out in some partnership and gets saddled with all the debts.
- He is put in debtors' prison, where his children and wife come to live with him. (His wife eventually dies.)
- Dorrit grows into a bitter, selfish, deluded old man who goes around begging for money from his fellow prisoners and ignoring the fact that his daughter Amy is the only one keeping the family afloat.
- He meets Arthur Clennam and immediately dislikes him because Arthur won't keep giving him money.
- After a bad day, Dorrit tries to get Amy to lead on the son of the prison turnkey in order to improve his own place in the prison's pecking order.
- One day he learns that he is heir to a huge fortune and thus can go free.
- Dorrit takes his family abroad. There he spends money freely and lives in constant fear that his prison past will be discovered.
- He hires Mrs. General to teach his daughters the ways of the aristocracy.
- His money is enough to get Dorrit into the highest society. To his displeasure, though, Amy is not great at learning to be a highborn lady.
- Dorrit commissions a portrait of himself from Henry Gowan.
- He approves the marriage of his daughter Fanny and Merdle's son-in-law Sparkler.
- All this time, Dorrit's paranoia keeps growing, and he misinterprets every action of his servants as a sign that they know he used to be in jail.
- Dorrit returns to England to take care of his affairs and gets a visit from the son of the turnkey. He is furious at this visit and scares the young man.
- After meeting Merdle, Dorrit gives him all of his money to invest and returns to Italy ready to propose to Mrs. General.
- After starting to woo her, Dorrit goes to a dinner party and has some kind of mental collapse where he thinks that he's back in prison and that the party guests are his fellow prisoners.
- Amy takes him home. He dies a few days later.