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Dickens ghosts. Malevolent or Benevolent

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22nd February 2007 Dickens' Ghosts: Malevolent or Benevolent? After studying the 'Queer Chair', 'Goblins who stole a Sexton', 'The Signalman' and 'The Baron of Grogzwig', all by Charles Dickens, I have found that he illustrates the ghosts very differently in each story. Throughout this, I am going to decide whether Dickens portrays the spectres in a malevolent or benevolent way to come to a conclusion of why and how he does this. In my opinion, the most benevolent ghost studied was the 'Queer Chair'. Towards the beginning of the story, when the ghost initially appears, Dickens illustrates him to be an elderly person, dressed in "an antique flapped waistcoat" which represents the damask cushion on the chair, and "red cloth slippers" which was infact the red cloth material tied around the knobs at the bottom of the legs. Slippers and waistcoats suggest an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation which are associated with grandfathers and luxury in old age, a clearly benevolent trait. In addition to this, the 'Queer Chair' was described as having "an old shrivelled human face" in which Tom Smart fears the apparition. "I won't look at it anymore" said Tom which suggests he would prefer not to witness the haunting spectre in the hope that it will disappear. This may lead the reader to believe that the ghost has a malevolent characteristic, however as Tom's understanding of the spirit is improved, he appears to craft a companionship with the phantom. Tom refers to the "Chair or the old gentleman, which ever you like to call him" as an "old nutcracker face". This could be interpreted as an insult; however it seems to be more of a witticism in this situation which shows connotations of benevolence towards the spirit. In reply to this, the 'Queer Chair' said "Come, come, Tom...that's not the way to address solid Spanish mahogany...Dam' me, you couldn't treat me with less respect if I was veneered". ...read more.


Further into Dickens story, the Baron and the Genius bandy their ideas of suicide or life and this juxta-position makes the whole situation confusing and illusive which shows malevolence fighting against benevolence. At this point in the story, the Baron von Ko�ldwethout, has decided that life has more to offer than death "I'll brood over miseries no longer, but put a good face on the matter, and try the fresh air and the bears again; and, if that don't do, I'll talk to the baroness soundly and cut the Von Swillenhausens dead". The writer wishes us to know that good has now triumphed over evil therefore benevolence is the reoccurring theme. Having decided to change his life, "von Ko�ldwethout never saw the apparition again". He lived for many years a happy man and educated his thirteen children that life is too short to be unhappy. The story is ended in a benevolent way by the writer advising "all men" who contemplate ending their lives or "tempted to retire without leave" they should make sure that they smoke a large pipe and drink a full bottle first and "profit by the laudable example of the Baron of Grogzwig". After Studying the 'Queer Chair' and 'Baron of Grogzwig' I have found that both ghosts act in a malevolent way but to be benevolent! The title of the next story 'The Goblins who stole a sexton' is immediately portrayed to the reader in a malevolent way as 'stealing' is bad and a gravedigger is generally portrayed as negative. The way in which Dickens opens the story is very negative and within the first paragraph, the reader knows he delights in negativity, he is a pessimistic character therefore thinks the worst of people and he hates children. This immediately continues the judgement of the reader to believing that this "sexton and grave-digger in the churchyard" is malevolent. The writer also adds to this negativity by describing Gabriel Grub as "ill-conditioned, cross-grained, surly fellow - a morose and lonely man, who consorted with nobody but himself". ...read more.


"Some ten years afterwards, a ragged contented, rheumatic old man". He even told his story to the clergyman and also to the mayor and in course of time, it began to be received as a matter of history, in which form it has continued down to this very day. "He had seen the world and grown wiser". This concludes that this story is clearly benevolent that the Goblins and Goblin King have changed a "sick, miserable, pessimistic man" to a "reformed gentleman". The final story we studied by Charles Dickens was 'The Signalman'. I found this story to be the least benevolent of the four that we analysed. At the beginning of story, the signalman is stood at the door of his box at the bottom of the "very steep cutting". The reader's first impressions of the story were somewhat negative, however contrary to this; 'The Signalman' followed the same pattern as the other three stories being malevolent to be benevolent. This means that the story is portrayed in a bad way initially, and that the ghost has evil intentions but nevertheless, at the end of each story, the spirit's victim has benefited from the apparitions. In the 'Queer Chair' the chair being the ghost, stopped the widow from marrying the man at the bar and enabled Tom Smart to marry her, in the 'Baron of Grogzwig' the "Genius of Despair and Suicide" stopped the "Baron von Ko�ldwethout of Grogzwig, Germany" from committing suicide, in the 'Goblins who stole a sexton' the 'Goblin King and Goblins' changed Gabriel Grub from a unhappy, miserable sexton, to a happy, friendly man who "has seen the world and grown wiser!". Also in 'The signalman' the spectre appeared to show the signalman of what is going to happen and therefore helps him and saves him from being killed. As a result of this, Dickens portrays the ghosts as benevolent in the 'Queer Chair', 'The Baron of Grogzwig', 'The Goblins who Stole a Sexton' and 'The Signalman', although primarily the reader my interpret them as malevolent. ?? ?? ?? ?? English Coursework - Dickens' Ghosts: Malevolent or Benevolent? ...read more.

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