Sketches by Boz - Charles Dickens

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Sketches by Boz
“The Streets - Morning”

The Victorian London streets is a familiar setting of Dicken's works with “Oliver Twist” and “A Christmas Carol” being some his most memorable works. In this passage Dickens offers the reader an alternative London, one without the energetic crowds but instead a much more disquieting place where the streets are dull and lifeless. We are met with a silent neighbourhood before the sun has risen and through the use of characters, setting and comparisons the reader receives a rich picture of the sunless streets.

The passage begins with the introduction of the Victorian London scene on a summer morning. The reader is taken by surprise by the opening sentence where “The streets of London on a summer's morning” are described to be “most striking”. Dickens' interesting choice of words places the pre-dawn London scene in the summer, a time of warmth and sun, however we are offered a nineteenth century London that is typically portrayed with a bleak, grey backdrop. Few people roam this neighbourhood apart from those “whose unfortunate pursuits of pleasure, or scarcely less unfortunate pursuits of business, cause them to be well acquainted with the scene.” This leads to the belief that each summer's morning starts off like this, colourless and melancholy; the people who happen to be awake at this dreary hour are the rogues who remain. Each just as depressed as the other, and both's search for something more than the blind acceptance of a morose existence the cause of their endurance of this sad atmosphere. It is quiet with “an air of cold solitary, desolation about the noiseless streets” and the buildings are “quiet” and “closely-shut”. It is empty and through the buildings it is shown how lifeless the location is with everything closed off from the outside world, preventing any chance of exposure to the dismal air. Throughout the day the roads are “swarming with life and bustle” the comparison of their appearance early in the...
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