Saturday, 31 January 2009

Little Dorrit Blues

Now I'm annoyed.

I enjoyed "Bleak House", so I thought I would watch the BBC adaptation of "Little Dorrit".

I don't get much time to watch TV (too busy blogging!) so I recorded the series and watched it when I could, until .............. my recorder hadn't recorded episode 13.

No matter; it was being repeated over four weeks on BBC4. I recorded that and sat down last week to watch episodes 13 - 16 and guess what?

It hadn't recorded episode 13.

BBC Conspiracy?

No matter, it's just been released on DVD, I'll order it from

I sat down last night to watch episodes 13 - 16 and................ stutter, stutter, stutter, freeze - not working!

Changed to a different DVD player and................ joy! Watched the last 4 episodes.

So, why am I annoyed?

Well, after investing seven and a half hours of my precious free time in the series, I AM NO WISER!*!

So, who is Amy?

Who is Arthur?

What did Miss Wade have to do with it all?

Why was Amy left a legacy?

What happened to Arthur's mother?

Was William Dorrit not Amy's father?

What happened to Pet and Gowan?



Anonymous said...

I watched it twice to get the answers to all those questions and am still none the wiser. When I can find the time [from blogging] I intend to read the book, with fingers crossed that the BBC did not change anything. I think Arthur was stolen by the woman he called mother. He was the daughter of an actress, and I thought,Mr.Clellan. Amy...dunno, Miss Wade..dunno. Amy's legacy came from her father ???
Black girl??? Most unsatisfactory, but I loved the series as Mr.Dickins is a favourite author. Perhaps there is someone who can enlighten us.Now Dombey and Son...studied that for OU...There is this sombre man who loses his wife at the birth of a daughter. Man becomes depressive, blames daughter and.....

Mean Mom said...

I wish that I could help, but by the time I decided to watch Little Dorrit, they were already showing episode 13. Like you, I am generally blogging, so I am either in the dining room, or have my head buried in my laptop, whilst sitting on the sofa, in the living room. I've never read the book. Perhaps this would be a better option!

Maggie May said...

I am a bit confused the same as you. I think chapter 13 was put out of sync because of the American election campaigne.

I believe that Amy and Arthur were switched at birth.
The old lady's husband had an affair and the baby's father was very rich. That baby was Amy.Mother had died.
The old lady wanted to punish her husband who died and she brought up Arthur as her own but punished him by being so horrible. Arthur had come from a poor family.
Not sure if this is the real turn of events or not as I find they didn't make some points very clear. I am not sure where Tatty Corum fits in with it all or Miss Wade. They were obviously lovers. Shocking in that day & age I should think.

I have been doing research on line and didn't find the answer. I asked someone else who had seen all the episodes & they couldn't help either.
After the series ended I was perplexed!
Proves that we need to read the book!

The Dotterel said...

Read the book, WM - not only is it better, you don't have to plug it in!

A Woman Of No Importance said...

I think because of the nature of LD, cut up as it was for TV, I also needed guidance and found it via the thread on Digital Spy that dealt with LD, as well as the listings and explanation available via Wikipedia!

You might remember that Dickens wrote in weekly instalments for 'Penny Dreadfuls', so he did leave some questions and twists unanswered here and there, because even he couldn't always remember where he was with a plot, bless him!

All will be revealed - Lots of luck!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

well MOannie and I had to get the book out, as the frenchie really wasnt into explaining things simply..

I aint gonna tell you, cos you can go see it on iplayer...I think..or even youtube in 12 minute sections...let me know if you really, really, want to know !!

Mummy Cow said...

bbc/iplayer - it's the only way I get to see anything!

Anonymous said...

It didn't record...oh, so frustrating when that happens! Wishing you a great rest of the weekend :)

Working mum said...

No, no, no, don't make me read Dickens!!!!

(I'm not a fan of his books, I prefer Thomas Hardy)

Anonymous said...

I'm with Dotterel on this one. In my experience, books rarely need to be plugged in to be enjoyed. I am relishing a particularly flowery Thomas Mann novel just now called Magic Mountain. It's delightfully over the top.

Polly said...

I have no idea what you are talking about but I understand your pain, it took me months to work out that I couldn't record normal TV and watch cable at the same time - and so I missed the whole season of Big Love.

rosiero said...

I remember when we watched it on BBC, we had to play it back again to understand that last bit and now in the mists of time I have forgotten it all again, but I agree it was blimmin confusing!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

I'm with working mum...I cant read Dickens either and i have tried, even did an Open uni on it and Shkespeare..I find it really hard, and I am a bit of a swot now, but no can do!! Hardy yes!!


Sorry - can't help you on this one! Watched the first episode and somehow missed all the rest. Will just have to go and read the book now, s'pose (if I had a few months idle).

Reluctant Housewife said...

No idea. None.

But then I didn't even watch it... and I haven't read the book, either.

Oh well.

Pamela M. said...

Let me share what my Dickens book says in its Appendix A: "The Denouement of Little Dorrit." I don't think I'm infringing copyright, as it is not much text. (see the quoted section below)

They were not switched at birth, and Amy IS Mr. Dorrit's daughter. The series makes this plot line VERY unclear. Also, the Tattycoram part of the end is misleading. Rigaud leaves the iron box of letters (from Arthur's mother) that he had gotten from Flintwinch's twin brother with Miss Wade, for safekeeping, until he wants to get them again. Tattycoram finds the box, and sees there are letters that involve other people. In the book, Tatty flees from Miss Wade with the box and goes back to the Meagles, asking them to take her back. The TV series shows Tattycoram taking the box of letters straight to Arthur.

Now for the "real" story of the codicil to the will (in Amy's favor) and the story of how Arthur is not Mrs Clennam's child:

Appendix A from the Penguin Books edition of Little Dorrit: "The Denouement [outcome] of Little Dorrit" pp. 896-897 1985 edition:

"Many years ago, a Mr. Gilbert Clennam put forward his orphan nephew (Arthur's father) as husband for the Mrs Clennam in the story. They were married. Later, this Mrs. Clennam discovered that her husband had already gone through a form of marriage with another woman [I believe this means had an affair with] who had borne him a son. Mrs. Clennam, a woman of vindictively self-righteous religiosity, demanded that the child (Arthur) be given into her own custody: if not, she would expose her husband, and bring it about that his uncle cut off his financial support. She got her way, taking possession of the child Arthur, while his true mother went mad and died, and his father went abroad and later died, too.

"Meanwhile, Gilbert Clennam has heard of the existence of Arthur's true mother; but all he has heard is that she was a girl whom his nephew had loved, but had abandoned in order to marry as his uncle had wished, and that she had subsequently gone mad and died. He has felt remorse at this, and as a kind of recompense has left, in a codicil to his will, a thousand guineas to the youngest daughter of the man who had at one time acted as patron to this girl (i.e. Arthur's true mother); or, if that man had no daughter, to his brother's youngest daughter.

"This man who had acted as patron to Arthur's mother was Frederick Dorrit: he had helped her, in her youth, to be a professional singer. But Frederick had had no daughter. The legacy therefore became due to the youngest daughter of his brother: that is to say, to Little Dorrit herself.

"But: Arthur's father had dictated the codicil making this change in his will, to Mrs Clennam; and it had been witnessed by herself and Jeremiah Flintwinch. Mrs. Clennam, however, had concealed the codicil, hiding it in her house in a place which she alone knew.

"But then she became paralyzed and could not get to it. Later the prospect of Arthur's homecoming from his years in China made her uneasy: he might find the papeer she had hidden. Therefore, on the very day of his return, she at last revealed the hiding place to Flintwinch, and told him to locate the paper and destroy it. But he did not destroy it. Instead, he gave it, with other papers (old letters, in fact, written by Arthur's true mother during her madness), in an iron box, to his twin brother Ephraim Flintwinch, who was at that time staying in the house. Jermiah did this either as giving him a chance to blackmail Mrs Clennam, or simply for the satisfaction of knowing that he had bested her. Ephraim later resided at Antwerp and Rigaud/Blandois became one of his drinking cronies there, and when he died (of a fit), got possession of the box and so of the suppressed codicil, and was therefore in a position to attempt to blackmail Mrs Clennam as she had blackmaied her husband and Arthur's mother long ago.

"Arthur was thus right in his early suspicions, or at least right to suspect that his father had been involved in some wrong done in the far past. His fathers' watch with its monogram DNF ("Do Not Forget") was intended as a reminder of the disregarded codicil: Mrs. Clennam, however, read it as a reminder of the "evil doing" on which she had been exacting vengeance."

Hope this helps!

-from Pamela Marie

Anonymous said...

In the US here, PBS just finished broadcasting Little Dorrit; found your blog after watching the last installment and going online to figure out what had happened.
Glad to read that even those of you native to Dickens' homeland were confused. At first, I thought that both Amy and Arthur were the elder Mr. Clenham's children as the result of two separate extramarital affairs, making them step-siblings which was just too eeew...and was wondering to myself, "Gee, so marrying your stepbrother/sister was okay in Dickens' day?"
But online search seems to say that Arthur was the elder Clenham's extramarital boo-boo and he left Amy Dorrit his estate in some kind of displaced mea culpa, but why did Clenham Sr. pick Amy? And if Dorrit wasn't her father, who was?
Must I *really* read Dickens to figure it out?
~Working Mom on the Verge on the west coast of the USA

Anonymous said...

I'm confused by Henry Gowan's displeasure after Pet gives birth. Is there a reason for this? Whatever happens to Gowan and Pet??

Betsy said...

Thank you, Pamela Marie for the explanation of Amy and Arthur. Last night, when I finished watching Little Doorit, which I had taped off Channel 13 last winter, I was feeling so stupid for not being able to figure out the ending. I went online just now and found "working mum on the verge" and read all the comments. So I'm not the only one. Whew. I'm surprised PBS flubbed the dub on this one. They usually do such a good job.

Betsy in New York CIty