Trollope's Multiple Views of Law and Justice in "Orley Farm"

Horiuchi, Anne
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
If you think of the Victorian novel, one almost automatically thinks of Charles Dickens. He is often the Victorian novelist of choice in high school and college classrooms because of his ability to create both pathos and comedy, to invent a wide range of vivid characters and to analyze critically social institutions and practices. If you think of Victorian novels about the law, then one thinks of Dickens' Bleak House (1853). It tackles the Victorian judicial system head-on, using the fictional Jarndyce and Jarndyce case to condemn thoroughly the legal system and its practitioners for the gross injustices the Court of Chancery inflicted upon countless people. Dickens essentially depicts Chancery as a black hole. Once an equity suit is filed, Chancery draws in scores of reluctant suitors and volumes of stifling paperwork, allowing no apparent means of escape. Dickens associates the legal figures of Messrs. Guppy, Tulkinghorn, and Vholes with the Jarndyce case as Chancery's agents--their mere presence in people's lives has disastrous results. As Dickens paints it, though Chancery is a court of law, people should not look to it for justice, but should avoid it at all costs.
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