Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Community and Language Studies


This thesis draws mainly on psychoanalytic theories, and explicates the doubling leitmotiv in Bleak House (1971), which portrays Victorian personality as split and its society as fragmented. This is seen as a suggestion of Dickens' conception of human identity as fragile and vulnerable. Each autonomous character represents a single aspect of personality, so that conflict, when it occurs, is in fact intra-psychic, rather than inter-psychic. The study investigates the problem of the dual or split personality via the quest for identity, and addresses Dickens' perceived need to reward self-effacing characters and punish the assertive. It explores the psychological ramifications of the fragmented personality based on the Object Relations principles of Splitting and Reintegration, and Separation and Individuation, and peruses the realistic development of the characters within psychological parameters. It examines the possibility that, despite Dickens' overt criticism of class divisions and social evils, his ascribing of traits like sexuality and violence to the lower classes, reveals his own ambivalence to class stratifications within Victorian society. The pervasive fog is a metaphor for indifferentiation between various personalities and institutions, and represents both psychic fragmentation and the erosion of law and order and meaning within institutions. The analogous relationship between classes and institutions is discussed in terms of paradigmatic divisions and syntagmatic connections. Special attention is devoted to the submerged dialectic in the dual narrative, under the broad terms of Eros, for the first person feminine narrative and Psyche, for what is considered to be the masculine, omniscient narrator, in order to understand it more fully within the Victorian context of separate spheres for the feminine and masculine, private and public. In concluding, it discusses Dickens' methods of plot and conflict resolution by drawing on his credo of childhood innocence, and the parable of the domestic haven, according to his own peculiar configuration of family.