Thursday, January 8, 2009

Charles Dickens Master Bates?

Roland from the Book got into a heated debate with me over whether or not there was a character in a Dickens book called "Master Bates." I knew that there was, and I set out to prove it by going to the best source: Project Gutenberg. Needless to say, I won the argument when I found the following passage from the ninth chapter of Oliver Twist:

'Wipes,' replied Master Bates; at the same time producing four pocket-handkerchiefs.

It's also funny, in a tacky way, that the first instance the book contains the word "Master Bates" also contains the word "Wipe"...I think it proves that Dickens was a pervert.

The character is of course Charley Bates, but he is referred to in this instance (and several other places) as Master Bates; when I was an English Lit student, the book that I had contained a list of characters in the front of the book, and he was also referred to there as "Master Bates," which I always got a kick out of...it was the only funny thing about the book.

3 comments:

Star said...

You must not have been a literature student for any lengthy duration of time; Dickens has considerable command of satire and it is especially potent in Oliver Twist. Note the entire character of Mr. Bramble, for instance: a surer mockery of social institutions cannot be found anywhere else. The "Master Bates" gig is minor. If it is the only thing that aroused your sense of mirth in the entire book, your understanding of literaure is very immature indeed.

Scott Douglas said...

Perhaps I just didn't study the works of Dickens as closely as you...that and my sense of humor tends to be aroused at immature things.

Star said...

I'm sorry; I seem to have gotten the beadle's name wrong, anyway. Bumble is the fellow's name, not Bramble.

Anyway, perhaps I am wrong about Master Bates being a small joke. It's a hefty stab at the way medicine and morals intermingled in Victorian England.