Top critical review
Moments of brilliance but.......
on 18 March 2013
This is one of Dickens' lesser known works. It is packed with the usual range of great characters. The beginning is very promising as Dombey Sr. welcomes his infant son into the world. He has already rejected his daughter Florence as being "no use whatsoever". All his hopes and ambitions are to be invested in Paul Jr. - a rather puny child who develops a probing mind and observant eye. Paul's mother dies in the first few pages. (She could have survived if only she had made more effort, says her sister-in-law Mrs Chick!)
Once again Dickens paints a very sympathetic of a young girl. Just like Esther Summerson and Little Dorrit she exudes goodness. She seems willing to absorb any cruelty thrown at her and in return offers forgiven and humility. Was she a reflection of the ideal Victorian young woman?
My problem with Dombey & Son is that there does not appear to have been any real planning of how the plot was to develop. It is as if Dickens had the first chapters published without knowing how the story would end.
Dombey Sr. is stiff and stuffy and eventually brought down by hubris. He was such an unpleasant character with no redeeming features that I am probably not the only reader to wonder why he was treated so sympathetically.
However there are still moments of great brilliance - especially many of the scenes with Paul Jr.