Little Dorrit

by Charles Dickens

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Little Dorrit Talks About Debtor’s Prisons, The Flaws Of The British Class System And Nobility. Download A Christmas Carol, READ online FREE or buy:

Book the First: POVERTY

Book the Second: RICHES

When it comes to Charles Dickens, even the most trivial things acquire new shapes and meanings. This writer is famous for his exceptionally brilliant mind, amazing sense of humor and a heart full of passion, compassion, love, and care, especially for the weak ones. As for Little Dorrit, the critics are calling it ones of the most personal novels by the master.

It first saw the light of day back in 1855 in a serialized form. The last chapter was published in ’57 (June, to be exact). Dickens was a big fan of this approach. The novel “lasted” for 19 months, and each installment was 32-pages-long.

Little Dorrit Summary

The story begins “3 decades ago”, with a terrifying killer telling his buddy how and when he strangled his own spouse. Mr. Clennam is coming back to the capital to see his mom after the tragic passing of his old man whom he had been living with for 2 full decades in China.

Before his dad died, he gave him a strange watch and said only two words – “Your mother”. So, the man was confident that his father’s last wish was for him to deliver that watch to his mom. Arthur found a message hidden on the inside – DNF.

However, when the mean and inexorable Mrs. Clennam saw it, she went crazy and cut ties with her boy. The woman is one of those religious fanatics that Arthur can’t stand, and the two turned into even bigger strangers after this.

Little Dorrit – One Of The Greatest Characters By Charles Dickens

At the same time, someone named Dorrit, a debtor, has been locked up in a prison for many years. He’s got three kids, and they all grew up there. Amy, his little baby girl, AKA Little Dorrit, is one of the most loving and caring people in London.

Her mom is gone, and she’s devoted to her dad 100%. Even though the kids are free to go in and out of the place, Amy comes around very often and loves to show her support by sewing. One day, the rich and influential Mrs. Clennam hires the girl as a dressmaker.

Arthur is surprised by his mother’s kindness and decides to follow Amy on every step of her way. Soon, he learns that her dad is the heir to endless riches, and does everything in his power to help him acquire it. Amy falls in love with the noble man; yet, he doesn’t show any interest in her.

Amy is not particularly thrilled about the fortune and only wants one thing – to be with Arthur. The lush and luxuriant life doesn’t change her a bit; she remains the same kind-hearted, lovely person. Her ability to forget and to forgive is depicted like a beacon of light, a beacon of hope in the turbulent XIX century.

Little Dorrit Themes

Dickens used his satirical talents to criticize the flaws of the British ruling elite and the society in the 19th century. During that time, debtors’ prisons were regular things. They were made for locking up debtors so that they could work hard to repay everything they owed. It’s no secret that the writer’s father was put in one of these prisons, and that is why he paid so much attention to it.

When the future best-selling author was a teenager, the law took his dad away from him, forcing the young lad to survive out there on the streets on his own. Obviously, that experience had a huge impact on Charles. And, after he witnessed the horrors that the lower social class had to go through, he turned into a big supporter of the poor yet morally strong hard workers.

The Flaws Of The Class System

Another huge theme in Little Dorrit is the lack of proper safety measures for the industrial laborers. The bureaucracy was one of the biggest vices of the 19th century according to Dickens. It was made to push the honest workers to their limits while making sure the rich and influential elite became richer.

The famous British class system was the third thing that the writer criticized and satirized. He was an overzealous and overachieving man and used every single opportunity to inspire the working class to stand up against the morally depraved industrial giants – the monsters, as he loved to call them in his novels.

Imprisonment is probably the main theme of this book. And Dickens doesn’t just talk about the physical loss of freedom. Figurative imprisonment is something that every single person has to fight on a daily basis.

The social class system in the UK trapped people inside their own bodies, choosing their destinies for them. By the way, Mr. Tchaikovsky, one of the greatest Russian composers in history, was in love with this novel and called it a fascinating, enchanting experience.

Praise And Criticism For Little Dorrit

When it comes to Dickens’s novels, there are no right or wrong opinions. Some people praise the writer for not being afraid to face the challenges of his time and standing up for the less fortunate ones. Others criticize him for being way too “political” and turning his characters into caricatures instead of making them look and feel more human.

However, as one of the greatest writers ever, Charles Dickens knew better than anyone what the readers really wanted and found just the right balance between drama, tragedy, and comedy. If he was to live and write in the 21st century, the critics would’ve called him a “mainstream” writer.

By introducing the readers to his fine lineup of funny, weird, and sometimes even ridiculous characters, he created just the right atmosphere for discussing the biggest problem of his time, the most resonating topics that touched the hearts and minds of millions around the world.

A Little Dorrit Movie

Just like any other Charles Dickens novel, this one was adapted for the big and the small screens more than once. True, it wasn’t as popular, as, say, A Tale Of Two Cities, but the directors/producers still loved its original charm.

The very first movie came out in 1913; it was a silent film. Another soundless adaptation arrived in 1920. Fourteen years later, the Germans made their own version. The movie cast included the lovely Anny Ondra as Amy.

In ’88, the 4th adaptation saw the light of day. It was an epic production and included as much as 300 actors/actresses. Finally, in 2008, two decades after the last movie, BBC rolled out the first-ever TV series based on Little Dorrit.

The cast, among others, included the legendary Andy Serkis. In 2001, Radio 4 made an exclusive radio adaptation that consisted of 5 hour-long episodes. So, as you can see, there are enough movie/TV/radio versions that you can familiarize yourself with.

Summing Up

Hands down, Sir Charles Dickens is a monumental writer, and he’s got more than a few epic novels that have instantly turned into classics. Little Dorrit might not be his most famous or commercially successful book, but it definitely is worth your attention.

First of all, this is the only time he talks about the debtors’ prisons. Second, he shares his thoughts and ideas about the tremendous flaws in the UK society. As mentioned above, imprisonment is one of the major themes in this novel.

The writers that lived and worked in the 18th/19th century have a great influence on the modern-day generations. They defined the concepts of what’s right and wrong, and they dedicated themselves to fighting n-day generations. They defined the concepts of what’s right and wrong, and they dedicated themselves to fighting injustice of any form.

Role Models By Charles Dickens

Dickens was a true champion of the poor but mentally and morally rich hard workers. His heroes are always honest, noble, and ready to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Arthur and Dorris can’t live without lending a helping hand, and that is why Lady Luck smiles back at them eventually and they find true love and happiness together.

They both had to go through numerous struggles and overcome many obstacles on their righteous path. Arthur lost his father and could never connect with his strong-willed mother. Amy sacrificed her teenage years to take care of her father and was happy to forgive every single person who wronged her.

Was it easy for them? Never. Still, they chose to be noble, and that is why they are true Dickens heroes, people that we can all look up to.


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