Montreal Dickens Fellowship
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Montreal Dickens Fellowship Study Questions: “Barnaby Rudge”
Westmount Public Library
March 7, 2017 1:00-3:00
Chapters 36 - 48

  1. Do you believe Lord George Gordon to be sincere? How would you rate his danger to society, given his naiveté and blind trust in the honor of his advisors and supporters? Do you feel sorry for him? Do you think Dickens portrayed him as a victim?
  2. Is Gashford inciting violence? Can you draw parallels in today’s society?
  3. Does Lord George Gordon’s sudden appearance in the novel after five years, reflect the sudden rise of his political movement in the late eighteenth century?
  4. Why does Dickens have Gordon dream he was Jewish? Was it to show that he was not deeply invested in the Protestant cause and wished at a deeper level for religious freedom
  5. Dickens had a very strong fear of anarchy and revolution, which abounded in Europe at this time. Gashford epitomized Dickens’s concern. His “so-called” loyalty to his faith seemed only to serve his current purpose of inciting anarchy and the overthrow of the government. As such, his role in the novel is to provide us with a caution as to what might happen if respected individuals let themselves be led astray by unscrupulous individuals who have their own agenda. Comment.
  6. Dickens suggested that the majority of the violent rabble in the city mobs were not following their religious principles but just wanted to protest and overthrow the “establishment”. This was evidenced by their return to gambling and drinking at the end of each day. Comment.
  7. Comment on the abrupt change in the story, midway in the novel. Although the initial characters continue throughout, it becomes a book about the riots and the previous plot seems to become much less important. Was this done purposely or is this a serious flaw in this novel?
  8. The mob’s lack of education and inability to read and write seemed to play an important role in its formation and volatility. Comment on the U.S. election in terms of statistics about the education level of the voters.
  9. Like today, readers of Dickens’s day were intrigued by the grotesque and morbid. Comment on Dennis the hangman’s stories about his job.
  10. What is Sir Chester’s motivation in urging Hugh to join the mob?
  11. There is a lot of hanging in this novel. Discuss the history of capital punishment in England and Dickens’s stand on this issue.
  12. Discuss how Dickens interweaves historical fact and fiction. Is it well done and effective? Are you hooked? Do you feel you are getting an un biased education about this historic event? Compare this to the historic relevance of “A Tale of Two Cities”
  13. In true Dickensian fashioned the plot is threaded together with coincidence. How believable is the fact that Haredale, Chester and Gashford were old school mates? Does the presence of coincidence detract from your enjoyment of the novel?
  14. How do you think Stagg’s traced Mrs. Rudge and Barnaby?
  15. The Blue cockade is reminiscent of the French Revolution. Comment.