Montreal Dickens Fellowship
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Montreal Dickens Fellowship Study Questions: “Barnaby Rudge”
Westmount Public Library
May 2, 2017 1:00-3:00
Chapters 49 - 73

  1. Comment on Dickens’s depiction of the storming of Parliament. Do you think it was accurate? What emotions did it stir in you?
  2. Have you ever been at a demonstration that turned ugly?
  3. When Simon said he had made provisions for Migg’s future, what did he mean?
  4. “Barnaby Rudge” is very topical, dealing as it does with the way that someone with mental illness can be spurred on by violent rhetoric and political pressure. Discuss the shooting of police by mentally ill perpetrators and mass killings, shootings or stabbings by emotionally disturbed people who have been spurred on by terrorist groups who may have inspired tremor even recruited them.
  5. Why wasn’t the militia more proactive in protecting Catholic neighbourhoods and churches initially? Was there anti-Catholic feeling in the army?
  6. Comment on Dickens’s phrase: “A moral curse ran through the city”.
  7. Do you think that suburb dwellers today believe that they are immune from urban violence? Is this true? Discuss.
  8. Why didn’t Hugh hang John Willet?
  9. Comment on the explicit gore and violence of the burning of the Warren. Compare it to violence in the media today and its appeal to consumers.
  10. Were you surprised to find out the identity of the murderer?
  11. Why do you think they let Barnaby have Grip in his cell? Did they pity him?
  12. Who is the one-armed man? Why is his face hidden?
  13. Judge senior’s actions seems to be controlled by fate; the same fate that sees him sharing a yard in Newgate with Barnaby. Does this thread of coincidence detract from your enjoyment of the novel?
  14. Comment on the theatricality and drama of the fire in Newgate. How would it compare to action and drama in today’s film and T.V.?