This is a really interesting piece by Jennifer Yirinec on ninteenthcenturydisability.org about disability in Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son.
Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son (1846–1848) attests to his career-long interest in chair-bound characters—characters who, because of illness, injury, or egotism, are confined or confine themselves to a “wheeled chair” (alternately referred to as the “Bath wheeled chair” or the “Bath chair”). In this particular novel, Dickens provides two examples of Victorian chair users: Paul Dombey, who, when ill, travels by wheeled chair so that he can sit by the sea with his sister; and Mrs. Skewton, an elderly lady who travels in a wheeled chair to perpetuate an illusion of wealth and social status. The former he renders sympathetic, while the latter he depicts as a figure of falseness—a heap of makeup and clothes that almost melts into the chair with which she joins her body. This excerpt from Dombey and Son, in which Mrs. Skewton is first introduced to the reader, illustrates Dickens’s perhaps harsh treatment of Mrs. Skewton and invites readers to consider…
Read the full post here.