Thursday, February 28, 2013

Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit

Arthur Clennam is the main male protagonist in Little Dorrit. I choose him to be featured in Character Thursday this week instead of Little Dorrit herself, because I found an interesting aspect in his personality. Brought up by the contrast combination of an iron-woman mother and a weak father in a dark and gloomy house full of hatred and revenge atmosphere had affected Arthur’s character as a man. I imagined petit Arthur as an unhappy and brooding child, constantly feeling unsafe and unsure, afraid at every action that his mother would scold him.

Fortunately his father took him when he has grown up to China to work as an apprentice in their family business. I imagine, being away from that horrible house and his strict and loveless mother, and lived in a loving surrounding of his father, has altered his personality to be much better. When he returned to England after his father died, Arthur has become a tender and loving person, though his day-dreamer and shyness aspects were still there—which I suspect as the result of his mother oppressive way of bringing him up.

What I like from Arthur is his sensitiveness towards injustice. Bringing home a remembrance token from his father to his mother, he insisted to be informed whether their family had been done any injustice to others while doing business in the past; that he would like to repair that if any. Arthur showed that manner too in Dorrit’s imprisonment. He was the originator of Pancks’ investigation in the case, which led to the revealing of Dorrit’s unexpected fortune.

Matthew MacFadyen as Arthur Clennam
in BBC miniseries

What I doesn’t like from Arthur is his over-sensitiveness—or may I say melancholy?—thoughts of himself. After being rejected by Minnie (Pet) Meagles, he considered himself too old for love—and he was only forty!—and although he felt something special towards Amy Dorrit, he pushed aside the idea of love, and assured himself that it was a feeling of protection, or even more a fatherly affection to a child—which led him to call Amy as ‘my child’. Oh Arthur…how foolish you were!

All in all, I learn from Arthur Clennam’s story that one’s character was much influenced by how he/she had been brought up. Unhappy characters usually come from unhappy atmosphere in their home. Even if they have experienced much better life conditions after that, small fragments of the unfortunate past might still exist in who they are today.


  1. Arthur frustrated me so much in Little Dorrit--I think we a little spunk he could have avoided debtor's prison, although I'm sure that Dickens wanted him to be there for symmetry in the plot, but his willingness to succumb to wasting away there really aggravated me.

    He's the male protagonist, but not much of a hero, in my opinion!

    1. That's I suppose one of his melancholy states... :)
      I don't like a man like that either, but then if I imagine how Arthur must have endured his mother's cruel and cold treatment, and having a weak father as his, least I can understand why he is like that.

  2. Congrats for penning Character Thursday feature for a whole year! I am impressed by Arthur because he still tried to care about his mother despite how Mrs. Clennam treated him, he had a determination to set things right rather than just let it all be. And that he decided to be a loving person no matter how negative the people who surrounded him.
    And you know how I love Matthew Macfadyen, although he was so plump in this movie... hehehe.
    Great choices of pics! ;)

    1. Thanks Mel!
      I'm only wondering, what would happen if Arthur ever found out that Mrs. Clennam wasn't his real mother. But I guess, he'd forgive her all the same.

  3. Dalam bayanganku, Matthew MacFadyen selalu terlihat seperti Mr. Dancy :')

  4. I must say again how much I have enjoyed my time spent with Dickens and I hope to do this again soon.


What do you think?