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Extra info for Crossing Boundaries: Thinking Through Literature
35. Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty (London: Chapman and Hall, 1912), ch. 25, p. 242. Shuttleworth 'SO CHILDISH AND SO DREADFULLY UN-CHILDLIKE' 33 stereotype of idiots being closer to lower, animal nature and cunning, although this suggestion is not pursued in the novel, and is out of keeping with the general tenor of Barnaby's depiction. Barnaby's mother preserves her hopes for his development until his manhood when 'his childhood was complete andlasting' (ch. 25, p.
There is no escape for David; Jacob would always keep returning to his shop, 'like a wasp to the honey-pot' (p. 406). Cunning is contrasted with innocence, and both are found to be equally repulsive. The story acts almost as a grotesque parody of George Eliot's other fiction. There is none of the fascination with otherness, with alternative states of mind, to be found in 'The Idiot Boy'. Jacob is constructed as a stock figure of comedy, whose limited animal intelligence highlights the equally limited selfish nature of his brother.
The ox might be innocent, goaded to its actions, but nonetheless it will injure those who stand in its path. With that mocking, final line, 'very, very like' it is still possible to read this comparison as ironic. The subsequent passage, however, emphatically endorses Jo's link to the animal world. Jo and a drover's dog both hear a band: He and Jo listen to the music, probably with much the same amount of animal satisfaction; likewise, as to wakened association, aspiration or regret, melancholy or joyful reference to things beyond the senses, they are probably upon a par.