Legal Elements In Dickens Novels

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Legal Elements In Dicken’s Novels

When compared to other authors and novelists in English, Charles Dickens portrayed lawyers and law as characters to convey the legal themes which forms the soul and substance of his novels. Ranging from the novel, the Pickwick Papers to the Mystery of Edwin Drool is played by the lawyers’ trial and legal elements, although he is not a lawyer in his practical life. But due to his experience as a law clerk, a reporter of court and parliament. This exposure and familiarity with this arena may have prompted to depict lawyers and legal touch with deftness and assurance. There is also lack is felt as informal legal expert which led to lackadaisical attention to technical rules of the law instead of potentiality of the law and lawyers to ensure justice and a refined society. In fact, dickens showed interest in legal concepts and applications to point out the irony of the rule of law and use it build a dramatic atmosphere in the novel.

In Oliver Twist, there is an instance where “Mr. Bumble is convinced by the presumption of the common law, a wife commits a crime in the presence of her husband is assumed to have done it under his coercion”. ‘If the law supposes that,’ according to Mr. Bumble, “squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands,” ‘the law is a ass-a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience-by experience.’

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‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is set in background of French Revolution where there are two lawyers and trials. One of the lawyers’ name is Mr. Stryver a bullying character is a minor character who is on way to successful career. The latter one is Sydney Carton his associate and the novel commences in a trial where they are arguing in defending Charles Darnay a “French Aristocrat” who was unfairly trialed for treason in ‘Old Bailey’ in the year 1780 through this scene dickens depict where prosecution of attorney and perjury and “paid testimony” of the witness that shows him as the traitor. Finally, Darnay is acquitted by the Carton due to his quick and precise insight in which he manages to entangle his opposition’s evil plan. Both the lawyers are attracted towards Lucie Manette. She already likes Carton but committed to Charles Darnay in spite of respect and love towards Lucie and he is disturbed when she marries Darnay making his enemy. Then the outbreak of French Revolution Darnay gets arrested with treason for the crimes committed by his aristocratic relatives. Finally, the revolutionary court convicts Darnay and on the day of execution due to immense love for Lucie Carton saves Darnay and represents himself as Darnay and guillotined. This act is implication of love and rival and the novel falls the curtain with a stirring melancholic drama- “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known”. The scene where carton goes to the scaffold is compared to act of Christ which represents purposefulness and resurrection.

The magic of law and morality has been showcased in the climax where Carton as lawyer sees the injustice in the legal system and realizes its futility as Darnay’s trial was arbitrary in nature from the beginning. Even after the revolution the court is not free from the evils of justice. The mistakes committee by Carton is replaced by the high moral character which he falls to prey for the society “salvation”. Apart from all these novels are this character is the moist lovable and favored of all the lawyers in Dicken’s novels. even though there are no features of a good lawyer in Carton’s personality but his act stays above all these. In the Dickensian model it amounts the most unselfish lawyer moral which acts as a substitute for the justice which was denied to the Charles Darnay.

In the novel called The Great Expectations there are lawyer named Mr. Jaggers who is a cynical bullying behavior and his law clerk named Wemmick through these protagonists the bridge between law and virtue is implied and its dichotomy. Jaggers is hired Pip the novel’s main character for whom the unrecorded funds are channeled. Mr. Jagger is a successful criminal lawyer who have an unusual compulsive behavior of washing the hands rigorously with the soap after a session with each client. The hidden message is that the clients who approaches him are filthy as they their acts are impure and was judgmental of all the relationships. “Pip notices that “cross-examined his very wine when he had nothing else in hand and cross-examined the glass again, until I was as nervous as if I had known the wine to be telling him something to my disadvantage.”

Jaggers comes to advise Pip what great Expectation lie on him in an inn. Mr. Wopsle, the parish clerk narrates a murder trial and his brother-in-law and his friends who comments saying that they condemn of offering a trial to the accused and presumed to be the guilty. The Jagger comments by saying that “But now I’ll ask you a question. Do you know, or do you not know, that the law of England supposes every man to be innocent, until he is proved-proved-to be guilty?’ ‘Sir,’ Mr. Wopsle began to reply, ‘as an Englishman myself, I_’ ‘Come!’ said the stranger, biting his forefinger at him. ‘Don’t evade the question. Either you know it, or you don’t know it. Which is it to be?’ ‘Now!’ said he. ‘Do you know it, or don’t you know it?’ ‘Certainly, I know it,’ replied Mr. Wopsle. ‘Certainly, you know it. Then why didn’t you say so at first? Now, I’ll ask you another question;’. ‘Do you know that none of these witnesses have yet been cross-examined?’ Mr. Wopsle was beginning, ‘I can only say-‘ when the stranger stopped him. ‘What? You won’t answer the question, yes or no? Now, I’ll try you again.’

Here Jagger is arguing every accused should have a chance to be heard in the court. This depicts his nobleness and ability to defend the English tradition of the innocence presumption which depicts the restlessness of Dickens to mention about the positives and special traits of the ‘English Criminal System’ aspects like self-incrimination is being discussed in this scenario and also focused on the English nobleness and enriched values rather than ignorance caused by Pip and Wopsle. The phrase ‘presumption of innocence in this context as a tool of humiliating the clerk which he used to hide the illegal and distaste actions of a lawyer. Thus, the statements made by the lawyer may affect the morality and being adversarial to dominate the society. Ecspecially, who are illiterate in law. The act of releasing statements which are debatable and are baseless by Jaggers like the Tulkinghorn in the Bleak House. He demands compensation for the release of Pip to free Pip from the clutches to the world of free-living space. There is a symbolized torn in Jaggers of verbal way of deceiving and inappropriate moral and lack of descent behavior towards Joe. When Pip acknowledges his benefactor Jaggers avoids by saying that “.” Jagger’s refusal to know reflects his lawyerly reluctance to be incriminated by knowledge of and failure to report the presence of Pip’s benefactor, a transported convict who has returned to England.” And discourages that he won’t like to listen to anything by understanding his love interest. At this instance Pip acknowledges Jagger’s intention and says that he understands him completely. Reverted by this statement he says that there is no compulsion and signifies his disagreement towards disclosure which is prudent reflects the “lawyer deniability with understandable with complicated hypothetical situations which is difficult to comprehend which shows a business minded in a lawyer’s brains. The implementation of justice is not assertively performed by the lawyers. The character of Jaggers is par with crooked advocacy cynical point of view and untrueness and lack of ambition where and also talks about the split personality who are depressed by circumvented in the sphere of law. The blandishments and overtness towards the law where the litigation is lured in spite, of increasing in the value. Hence, the virtutes and morality were not developed or cable of being significant in the legal procedures which make the situations tedious and worsen the situation with endless and tangled consequences.

Jurisprudence In Dicken’s Novels

The relation between law and morality with the tinge justice is the most intriguing and a debatable element in Dicken’s novels. This term is questionable to the lawyers’ ethics and principles. It is often, referred as Dicken’s jurisprudence. The initial aspects are cumbersome in these novels which are discouraging and gives and builds a negative approach towards the legal arena and the administration of justice where an innocent is being convicted while the guilty ones escape with power and money. The relevance of this term in fictional literature with law serves as the background settings plus with legal technicalities and applications makes it interesting and generates curiosity in the minds of the readers. The focus devoted by the Dickens to this key aspect is in purpose of utility for discussion on importance of law in plays in bringing reforms in the mindsets of the people.

In the most literary works of Charles Dickens he abuses legal procedures, presents like a corruptive base where easily people can tamper it with power and money. He often denied the existence of “specific procedural problems which was troubling had abolished and being subjected to reform it with enhanced significance. He also points out another valid aspect on differentiation between law and morality in which it was commented by one of the greatest author George Orwell “despite Dickens’s exceedingly negative portrayal of lawyers and the law, Dickens is beloved by the bar one knows without needing to be told that lawyers delight. Dickens seems to have succeeded in attacking everybody and antagonizing nobody. Why do lawyers-at least those who care to read him-love an author who only seems to castigate them? Ultimately, the significance for lawyers is that Dickens allows everyone, even those who do not practice the moral decency that he preaches, to contemplate his moral pronouncements. In his own age and ours [Dickens] has been popular chiefly because he was able to express in a comic, simplified and therefore memorable form the native decency of the common man. Nearly everyone, whatever his actual conduct may be, responds emotionally to the idea of human brotherhood”.

He had his own vision about the lawyers and the legal system. The idealism of “human brotherhood” which is practiced y the lawyers itself get violated the mentioned principle. He had his own way to attain the key aspects of the term justice by doing good and devoted thoughts and acts which have a blissful effect towards the progress of the morality in the mindset of the people and not loophole proof laws. This trait has been effectively portrayed in the character known as Jarndyce who did good things like helping the poor and needy rather than seeking to be innocent by depending upon the laws which was beneficial in the lawsuit. The Samuel Pickwick failed to get justice as he refused to tolerant and selfish and thought that the realms of law is the only way to lift him from all the accusations and condemned in doing good acts thus, no justice was delivered to him. Contrastingly in “A Tale of Two Cities” the justice was attained by “Charles Darnay” in his primary trial. However, after the revolution where one expects more justice from the legal arena had a emotional and never forgetful ending the act of Lawyer Carton was more sufficing in the victory of Justice by sacrificing his life by saving an innocent from the punishment. This moral conduct draws attention toward the concept of law and morality where one sacrifices his life for the love and saves his rival is the most touching and yet is the precious instance and a label for the Dicken’s novels.


The traits seen in Dicken’s novels are due to the nature and happenings in the society. In all the literary works done by the authors round the globe depicts their way of living the situations and circumstances that they grew up, the major events which transformed the societal and hierarchical changes which had a significant impact in the lives of the people. During his time was the era of conservatives where the church ruled and controlled the affairs and the judicial system were biased where people lacked the professional ethics and moral values which had no importance and there was no proper justification behind every authoritative act and decisions. One will be freed by sacrificing the lives of the many.

George Orwell contemplates his views and comments the literary works as general like “the texts are not so perspicuous that they can be depended upon to maintain a constant meaning or to consistently achieve good or moral results. Texts will be interpreted by readers based upon the assumptions derived from each reader’s interpretive community and this may or may not result in moral readings. The only assurance that the law will not cause injustice, then, comes when these texts are interpreted by moral individuals, not from a belief in determinate texts.”

Even though the Dicken’s has positive view towards the betterment of legal administration in the state, his novels instead depicted the contrastingly to his view on picturing the law and lawyers as the evils of the justice itself. This also serves as the sovereign of the moral conduct of humans which needed to be followed in every day life. The social justice can be achieved by through the moral conduct and sympathizing and understanding their situations and act and execute a sound remedial action. The act of preferring the law by disregarding the morality content in the act will cost the purely subjective aspects of justice in one’s mind. His view on moral conduct and principles is embedded in his novels which give reflections of various aspects of morality and its impact helps in successful pursuance of justice.


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