The Chimes – 1844 – a Christmas tale
Written while the Dickens family were living in Genoa. Dickens stated that he missed the inspiration of the London streets and returned to London to complete it.
Its full title was ‘The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In‘,
Many current issues of the time are featured in the tale, but this did reduce the longevity of its appeal.
The tale is divided into ‘Quarters’.
Trotty Veck is an elderly poor ticket porter who becomes inspired to change his outlook by the chimes of New Year’s Eve.
He is bothered by the reports of crime and immorality in the newspapers, and ponders if the working classes is wicked by nature.
His daughter Meg and her fiancé Richard arrive and announce their decision to marry the next day. Trotty hides his misgivings, but their happiness is dispelled by an encounter with the pompous Alderman Cute. He is accompanied by a political economist and a nostalgic young gentleman. Their discussions make Trotty, Meg and Richard doubt their right to exist, certainly not to marry.
Trotty carries a note for Cute to Sir Joseph Bowley MP it is clear he is using the New Year to settle his debts, Trotty has debts and this mked him feel worthless.
Trotty meets Will Fernand his niece on their way to meet Alderman Cute, but Trotty overherad they plan to arrest him, so he and Meg take them in and feed them from their meagre resources. This event makes Meg doubt the marriage to Richard, it seems inappropriate.
Trotty reads in the newspaper how a mother has drowned the child she cannot feed, he despars of the working class.
He is attracted to the bell-chamber by their chimes and meets the goblin doing the bellringing, They chide him for doubting humanity’s capability to improve. He has a series of visions, that teach him that, far from being naturally wicked, Mankind is formed to strive for nobler things.
Trotty wakes and everything seems fine, but is it a dream-within-a-dream?
· Veck, Toby (Trotty), the main protagonist
· Veck, Margaret (Meg)
· Richard, Meg’s fiance
· Cute, Alderman – a JP
· Filer, Mr – Utilitarian economist
· Bowley, Sir Joseph – a paternal MP
· Fish, Mr
· Fern, Will – a countryman
· Fern, Lillian – Will’s orphaned niece
· Chickenstalker, Mrs – a shopkeeper