In this article, I focus on the impact of overseas business experiences on the young men in Dickens’s life and fiction, and how their absence and return propel his novel plots. Dickens’s lifetime (1812–70) parallels the expansion of the British Empire. I mention that Dickens’s five sons obtained jobs overseas, and Dickens fully acknowledged the function of overseas territories as places where middle-class young men could find a profitable job and attain independence. I clarify that in his fiction, Dickens did not encourage young men to go overseas as much as in his own life. I highlight that in Dickens’s novels, the decision to send young men overseas practically constitutes a means to punish and remove the rebellious and unwanted as overseas travel is unsafe, and overseas experiences do not always lead to worldly success. I argue that Dickens emphasized the pressure on young men to go overseas and their coming to maturity through overseas experiences. I demonstrate that young men’s overseas business makes their durable absence persuasive, induces anxiety, tests the affection of their beloveds, and makes young men’s ultimate return and reunion more impressive.
Akiko Takei, Chukyo University, Japan
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies
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