chapter  1
33 Pages

Martin Chuzzlewit

The ownership of language emerges as a crucial part of a son's patrimony, and in Martin Chuzzlewit as in Barnaby Rudge, authority must be transferred from father to son through linguistic as well as financial means. Language manifests enormous power in Martin Chuzzlewit, and Steven Marcus is right to assert that in the text, as never before in Charles Dickens, characters seem to create themselves by becoming involved in the complexities of language or by committing themselves to an appropriate rhetoric. In Martin Chuzzlewit, the movement is from an evil transatlantic Eden to a domestic Eden soon to be purged of the sins with which the novel has wrestled. Martin Chuzzlewit, which instigates the self-creation of Dickens as a novelist of monumental stature, harnesses words in the cause of the neglected child's belated revenge. Jacques Derrida provides an insight into both Dickens's filial relations and his selfconscious role as paternal author of lucrative fictional 'children'.