A change that did him good: Lillian Nayder on Dickens, Women, Violence, Cure

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In his introduction to this lecture given on March 9, 2013, scholar Charles Calhoun states, “In our own lifetime, I think one of the major events in Dickens scholarship has been the appearance of a biography by our next speaker, Lillian Nayder. And that is The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth .

Lillian Nayder is Professor and Chair of English at Bates College, where she teaches courses on nineteenth-century British fiction. In this lecture, delivered as part of Winter Weekend 2013 programming on Dickens’s Great Expectations, she discusses the implications of domestic violence in the novel.

Nayder describes the legal position of wives in Dickens’s time and the contemporary political debates surrounding their rights, both of which Dickens had in mind when writing Great Expectations. Her analysis of the two Mrs. Gargerys reveals his fascinating and disturbing portrayal of wife beating as both an evil and a cure.