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Diction and Imagery in “Dombey and Son”

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    In the work, Dombey and Son written by Charles Dickens, the author uses great diction and imagery to convey Dombey’s personality, how he views himself in society, and as a person. Dombey, “a rather bald, rather red, and though a handsome well-made man, too stern and pompous in appearance, to be prepossessing,” as described by Dickens in the opening lines of the excerpt seems to have a distorted perception of himself.

    Others might not perceive a “bald”, “red” man as alluring, yet in Dombey’s case, how could it be possible that a man as successful and astounding as him could be observed as anything less than “handsome”? The diction used in this characterization of Dombey suggests that he believes quite highly of himself. Dombey’s confidence in himself soon becomes evident when he expresses his aspiration to have a son to carry on the family name, and notes that “a matrimonial alliance with himself must, in the nature of things, be gratifying and honorable to any woman of common sense… The diction used by Dickens in this proclamation assists the reader in concluding the extent of Dombey’s feelings. Dombey and Son- “those three words conveyed the one idea of Mr. Dombey’s life. The earth was made for Dombey and Son to trade in, and the sun and moon were made to give them light.

    Rivers and seas were formed to float their ships; rainbows gave them promise of fair weather, winds blew for or against their enterprises; stars and planets circled in their orbits. To preserve inviolate a system of which they were centre. The imagery presented in this passage supports Mr. Dombey’s feelings and the fact that he believes he is the center of the universe. In conclusion, it can be said that Dombey is an extremely pretentious man, because there is no evidence which suggests he is an individual of high importance and status. Nowhere in the passage does Dickens make it apparent that Dombey even has an essential role in society, or that he is as astounding as he claims to be. The magnitude of Dombey’s high self-perception appears to be tremendously ostentatious.

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