Title: What Draws Young Men Overseas? Identifying the Impact of Overseas Business Experiences on Young Men in Dickens’ Novels
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Akiko Takei, Chukyo University, Japan
In this article, I focus on the impact of overseas business experiences on young men and how their absence and return propel the plot in Dickens’s novels. Dickens’s lifetime (1812–70) parallels the expansion of the British Empire. I mention that Dickens’s five sons obtained jobs overseas, and Dickens fully acknowledged the function of overseas territories as places where middle-class young men could find a profitable job and attain independence. I clarify that in his fiction, Dickens did not encourage young men to go overseas as much as in his own life. I highlight that in Dickens’s novels, the decision to send young men overseas practically constitutes a means to punish and remove the rebellious and unwanted as overseas travel is unsafe, and overseas experiences do not always lead to worldly success. I argue that Dickens emphasized the pressure on young men to go overseas and their coming to maturity through overseas experiences. I demonstrate that in the text, young men’s overseas business makes their durable absence persuasive, produces anxiety, tests their own and beloved’s affection, and makes young men’s ultimate return and reunion more impressive.
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