From Visual Tools to Body Parts: Functions of Eyeglasses in The Pickwick Papers (70638)

Session Information: Literary Studies
Session Chair: Jerry Chia-Je Weng

Saturday, 27 May 2023 09:30
Session: Session 1
Room: Room 703
Presentation Type:Oral Presentation

During Dickens’s lifetime, the Industrial Revolution and technological advancements enabled most members of the middle class to afford eyeglasses. Additionally, these developments facilitated the improvement and mass production of frames and lenses. The spread proves the popularity of eyeglasses in Dicken’s time among his fictional characters. In his works, eyeglasses are associated with aging, social standing, power, and authority and, apparently, help the characters see more clearly. Dickens‘s first novel, The Pickwick Papers (1836-37), presents the time when the Victorian middle class gingerly started to use eyeglasses. In The Pickwick Papers, the eyeglass wearers are limited to well-off individuals or legal professionals. Dickens associates characters’ temperament and preferences with the eyeglass type they wear. For instance, Mr. Pickwick’s round glasses represent his mild temperament. At the novel’s beginning, Mr. Pickwick’s donning and removing his glasses are so frequently mentioned that his glasses eventually appear to be part of his body, forming his identity. Based on these arguments, the current study discusses how Dickens uses glasses to represent his characters and the process by which his contemporaries could increasingly afford to own eyeglasses.

Akiko Takei, Chukyo University, Japan

About the Presenter(s)
Akiko TAKEI earned PhD in University of Aberdeen in 2004 and has been Professor in Chukyo University, JAPAN since 2008. Her research interests are British literature, culture, and history. She has attended IAFOR conferences since 2020.

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00