Monday, July 23, 2012

Charles, Charles.....

Amy Dorret found here

I'm a big fan of the PBS Masterpiece Classic program, and I've been enjoying the Little Dorret series in particular.  Not familiar with the story by Charles Dickens? Here's the plot summary from PBS:

"Amy Dorrit's (Claire Foy) gentle spirit has never been dampened by the confining walls of the Marshalsea Prison she's lived in her whole life. Despite the dark shadow of debtor's prison, Amy lovingly cares for her father William Dorrit (Tom Courtenay), the longest serving inmate. A possibly redemptive light unexpectedly shines in the form of Arthur Clennam (Matthew Macfadyen), who has been left with the intriguing threads of a mystery after his father's death — threads that will intertwine his family and fate with the Dorrits. Clennam's exhaustive search for answers involves murder, fortunes gained and lost, the upper echelons and lowest dregs of society, and most surprising of all, a tender romance...."

Masterpiece Classic host Laura Lynney provided tidbits of biographical information about Charles Dickens before each segment of the series. Mr. Dickens lived a very complicated life, and it was quite enlightening to see how his life story appeared in various ways in his writing. In reading Dickens' books, I have always appreciated his recurring theme: that kindness and "goodness" will always ultimately be rewarded, and I rather naively assumed that since his writing had strong autobiographical elements his actual personal life would reflect those same themes.

But.

In her narrative before the final segment of the show, Ms. Lynney discussed Dickens' marriage. I couldn't find a link to her actual quote, but the gist of what she said was this: Mr. Dickens married Catherine Hogart and fathered ten children with her. As 22 years passed, Catherine became older, fatter, and most importantly: chronically ill. And, unlike the devoted and loving heroes and heroines in his novels, Dickens took an eighteen year old mistress and deserted his wife.

Really, Charles? Really? Amy Dorrett would NEVER have abandoned her father, even though he was an mentally unstable man living in debtor's prison. And her devotion to Arthur was life-long. And, and......

My disillusionment is rather silly, I know. Dickens' work is fiction. And it's unrealistic on my part to hold him to any ethical standards at all. But it did reinforce evidence of behavior that is still unfortunately not unusual in 21st century life. The point I'm trying to make here, and actually there is one, is that the fact that many of us, similarly to Mrs. Dickens, lose important relationships as we too become older, fatter, and chronically ill. I've received countless letters from people - both men AND women - who were deserted by family and friends as their disease progressed.

How profoundly sad. And what a test of a person's true character.

After the conclusion of Little Dorret, I found my husband and gave him a very long appreciative hug. And though I have lost relationships as a result of my chronic illness, I spent some time thinking about those wonderful people who have stayed with me as I too became older, fatter, and chronically ill.

Thanks, guys.

3 comments:

Leslie at SugarAndSpiceADK. said...

Thanks for this, Julia--I've lost so many "friends" as I've become older, skinnier and chronically ill...the lesson I've learned? That I would never, ever do that to somebody else.

Anita Stafford said...

It's a fact that some people only love you as much as you are "useful" to them, so I say let them go if their love is so shallow.

Fearless Fibro Warrior said...

The great thing I have found is, as I get sicker, I have less patience for jerks that don't have time for me anymore, so it all works out... <3

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