This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. This book is a critical study of the four works in question and the creative and commercial impulses that produced them. These four texts, however, work sequentially through the four primary relationships between parent and child: father and son; father and daughter; mother and son; and mother and daughter. Martin Chuzzlewit manifests Dickens's domestic, financial and professional anxieties at the time of its composition. Dombey and Son is fascinated by the Looking, and it is consonant with its slide away from Chuzzlewit's obsession with words and the symbolic towards the pre-linguistic and the imaginary that it exhibits so much emphasis on the visual rather than the verbal. The social dynamic in Bleak House is, therefore, effectively a macrocosm of Esther's cultural and literary establishment within the symbolic order, and she is integral to it.