Thursday, November 30, 2006
In Defense of Dickens: I love English literature and am a member of a Dickens reading group. There has been occasionally criticism of the great master because of his lack of sensitivity to women and because of his his well known marital infidelity. I had some opinions on those issues:
Should we really condemn Dickens because of his infidelity and less-than-sensitive feelings toward the plight of women? Women in the US obtained the vote less than one hundred years ago -- a mere grain in the sands of time. Women, as we know, still have discrimination issues. Dickens was, I think, a product of his culture. The major phenomenon of his time was, in my view, the industrial age and the woes it brings to labor, children and the abysmal conditions of the lower social classes and labor. It was not women's rights as just as that cause may be. After all, Karl Marx published his famous work in 1848 the Communist Manifesto, an indictment of the economic system, the means of production and the ills it created.
As for infidelity, since the dawn of history that has been such a common occurrence especially by men and especially by them once they find a younger more reproductively attractive model. The evolutionary urge, of course, we know, is to pollinate as many as the male can. I have often thought we hand wring as a society about a biological urge which, to a large degree, is difficult if not impossible to control. Marital vows, while serving a distinct societal purpose protecting especially children and to some degree women too, in my opinion, has been historically so difficult to maintain because our biology overrules societal, religious and cultural dictates. Religion constantly imposes, in my view, unreasonable dictums. One's religiously and culturally inspired brake is saying no when one's biological imperative is saying yes. I think biology is the winner much if not most of the time. I'm giving Dickens a pass on his frailties and shortcomings. Just my opinion.