Little Dorrit was published 1856-57, when the author's popularity was at its height. The plot is a slight one on which to hang more than fifty characters. The author began with the intention of emphasizing the fact that individuals brought together by chance, if only for an instant, continue henceforth to influence and to act and react upon one another. But this original motive is soon altogether forgotten in the multiplication of characters and the relation of their fortunes. The central idea is to portray the experiences of the Dorrit family, immured for many years on account of debt in the old Marshalsea Prison, and then unexpectedly restored to wealth and freedom. Having been pitiable in poverty, they become arrogant and contemptible in affluence. Amy, "Little Dorrit," alone remains pure, lovable, and self-denying. In her, Dickens embodies the best human qualities in a most beautiful and persuasive form. She enlists the love of Arthur Clennam, who meantime has had his own trials. Returning from India, after long absence, he finds his mother a religious fanatic, domineered over by the hypocritical old Flintwinch, and both preyed upon by the Mephistophelian Blandois, perhaps the most dastardly villain in the whole Dickens gallery. The complications, however, end happily for Arthur and Amy. The main attack of the book is aimed against official "red tape" as exemplified in the Barnacle family and the "Circumlocution Office." ...
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