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April 27, 2009


Mike Molloy

This comic conclusion substitutes social harmony and the happily-ever-after for the novel's cooler vision of unrewarded private goodness and unwelcoming public chaos.

That description of the novel's ending seems to me like an overly bleak assessment of what is basically a happy ending..."cooler vision" and "public chaos", sure, but "unrewarded private goodness"?

Amy and Arthur seem pretty clearly to get a "they lived happily ever after". That seems like a reward; granted that the reward does not include a miraculous transformation of Fanny into a wise and cultured woman, or a restoration of Tip to health, but really, how plausible would such outcomes have been? (Frankly, the endings of the other Dickens novels I've read, Bleak House and Great Expectations, have endings that seem implausibly happy to me; e.g. in BH, suddenly the scars from Esther's illness are all gone...and as far as I'm concerned, neither the original nor the replacement version of GE's last chapter ever happened.)

And it's not just Arthur and Amy. The Meagleses are reasonably happy, their regret over Pet's marriage notwithstanding; Doyce survives the Merdle swindle and continues merrily along in business (he sorta does get a miracle cure, but what the hey, at least it's from the work of his mind and hands, rather than just a pot of gold falling from the sky); even Pancks gets to throw off Casby's shackles and get a good job with Doyce and Clennam.

Anyway, I see the contrast you're drawing between the novel and the TV version, but taking your description of the novel's ending at its face value, it seems a bit much.

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