Dickens the Designer by Juliet McMaster (auth.)

By Juliet McMaster (auth.)

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Makes his flesh shine a good deal, and parents thinks that a healthy sign', he explains. And, when, by pinching young Wackford to show off his fat , he has made him cry, he boasts triumphantly, 'Look at them tears, sir . . there's oiliness! ' (NN, 438, 435) . Snawley, the fat and hypocritical fath er in the same novel, is 'a sleek personage with an oily face' (588) . Pecksniff, also sleek and oily, is 'the sort of man . as would squeeze soft' (MG, 675). Most memorably of all, Chadband, the canting preacher in Bleak House, is 'a large yellow man, with a fat smile, and a ~eneral appearance ofhaving a good deal of train oil in his system'.

Come to light about his nose , as if the finger of the very devil himselfhad, within the last few mom ents, touched it here and there' (125) . Uriah Heep, who keeps reappearing in my study because he is so useful an epitome of villainy, also has 'disagreeable dints .. in his nostrils' (DC, 377), and adds to his other unpleasant habits the tendency to twinkle with his nostrils instead of his eyes (239) . Dickens is here quite orthodox in his physiognomy. Lavater had laid it down that ' Noses which have on both sides many incisions, or lines, that become more visible on the slightest motion , and never entirely disappear even in a state of complete rest, betoken a heavy, oppressive, ...

He has 'a snaky undulation pervading his frame from his chin to his boots', particularly when he speaks of Agnes, and he is characteristically 'writhing ... like a conger-eel' (DC, 378, 616-7) . There is clearly some sexual suggestion in this prominent snake imagery. Stiggins, Pecksniff and Uriah are the 30 Outwardand Visible Signs sexual rivals of the hero, or at least of a prominent and sympathetic male character, and the particular hostility that attaches to them has a strong sexual impulse.

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