Dombey And Son Summary

Charles Dickens

Dombey And Son

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Dombey And Son Summary

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Dombey and Son (1848) is a lesser-known work by Charles Dickens. The novel tells the tale of a dysfunctional family led by a heartless businessman. The businessman hopes his son, Paul, will take over his business empire. He ignores his daughter, Florence. The work was a serial novel published each month from October 1846 until April 1848.

Paul Dombey is the owner of Dombey and Son, a shipping company. The wealthy business owner dreams of having a son to take over the family business one day. He neglects his first child, a girl,because she is not the boy for whom he had hoped. Dombey’s first wife dies shortly after giving birth to his namesake son. This leaves both his newborn son and his six-year-old daughter, Florence, motherless. Mrs. Richards, whose nickname is Toodle, serves as a wet nurse to Little Dombey.

Little Paul Dombey grows into a frail child who is often sick. He loves his older sister, Florence. For his health, his father sends him to the seaside city of Brighton, which does him good. Little Dombey receives an intense education in Brighton at Dr. and Mrs. Blimber’s school. At school, he becomes friends with his schoolmate Mr. Toots. Alas, Little Dombey’s health gets worse, and he dies at the mere age of six years old.

The death of his son causes Mr. Dombey to distance himself even further from Florence. In addition, Florence’s friend, Walter Gay,is sent to work in Barbados at a counting house of her father’s firm. On Walter’s way to Barbados, his ship is reported lost at sea. With one of her few friends presumed drowned, poor Florence is even lonelier than before.

The wealthy widower Mr. Dombey is now an attractive potential husband. He is introduced to several potential brides and marries Mrs. Edith Granger. Edith is the widowed daughter of Mrs. Skewton. Mr. Dombey marries Edith because she has the correct family connections and accomplishments. Mr. Dombey does not love Edith. The proud Edith married because her family is facing financial difficulties. The marriage is not a happy one. The only reason Edith stays is because she has become fond of Florence. After an argument, Edith leaves the marriage by running away to Dijon with Mr. Carker. She hopes to ruin her husband’s reputation.

The furious Mr. Dombey takes out his anger on Florence. He hits Florence, who then runs away from home. She goes to stay with a friend of Walter Gay, the retired Captain Edward Cuttle at the Wooden Midshipman. While the hook-handed man nurses Florence back to health, Mr. Toots is a regular visitor. Mr. Toots has loved Florence since they spent time together in Brighton.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dombey goes in search of his wife, Edith, aided by Alice Brown, a vengeful former lover of Mr. Carker. In Dijon, Mrs. Dombey flees Mr. Carker, who was solely her means of escape. Mr. Carker has now lost love and employment. As Mr. Carker returns to England from Dijon, he dies after accidentally falling under a train.

Florence is delighted when her friend Walter Gay turns up alive at the Midshipman. He survived the shipwreck and was saved while floating at sea by a passing ship. Florence and Walter Gay marry. Walter’s uncle Solomon Gills, who had gone in search of Walter, also returns to England.

Walter writes a letter to Mr. Dombey alerting him of his marriage to Florence. He also makes a request to let bygones be bygones. Walter leaves the letter with Solomon Gills.

Dombey and Son goes bankrupt due to the criminal activities of Mr. Carker, a manager at the firm. Mr. Dombey sells everything in his home and dismisses all his servants. He lives in two rooms of the home by himself with a new housekeeper, Mrs. Richards. Now alone, Mr. Dombey is overcome with regret and love for his daughter. He misses Florence and thinks of her often.

Florence has a baby boy named Paul. She reunites with her father and introduces him to his grandson.

Florence takes her father to live with her at Walter’s house. As Mr. Dombey’s health gets worse, his daughter cares for him.

The novel ends on a happy note. Florence and Walter have two children. Walter Gay is a successful businessman. After years of neglecting his family, Mr. Dombey now understands that family is what matters. The formerly emotionally depraved man has been redeemed. The elder Mr. Dombey is a now an old man and doting grandparent to grandson Paul and granddaughter Florence. He is moved to tears each time he kisses his young granddaughter.

Charles Dickens, who lived from February 7, 1812, until June 9, 1870, is a British author of many classics. During his career, he wrote many beloved novels, including A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, and Nicholas Nickleby. His experience growing up in poverty as the second of eight children influenced his work. Many of his works deal with hunger, debt, and child labor. He is buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey in London.