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Father of Earth - Paul Dombey


Florence Gay; Paul Dombey Senior; Paul Gay.


Dombey & Son

      Mr. Paul Dombey is the wealthy owner of the shipping company, Dombey & Son. He longs for a son himself to carry on the business and family name. As the novel opens, he has a loving 6-year-old daughter whom he disdains because she is female. Money, prejudice, and pride have cauterized Dombey from his own humanity. When his wife dies giving birth to a son, Paul, Dombey invests in the boy at the growing expense of his daughter, but nothing can save his sickly son from inevitable death.


 Dombey takes a second wife at the counsel of his predatory confidante, Major Joe Bagstock, a sinister old soldier who talks of himself in the third-person. The marriage is loveless and doomed, and when Dombey's wife leaves him, he blames his daughter, Florence. When Dombey strikes the young girl, it is the final straw in a lifetime of emotional and psychological abuse and she too leaves him. The darkness around Dombey intensifies and spreads with the aid of his “Grand Vizier”, the smiling maniacal Mr. Carker. In the end, the darkness fatally consumes Carker and Dombey & Sons goes bankrupt.


 All three Dombeys are represented in the Earth suit because theirs is a story of perseverance, redemption, and the proper valuation of matter and the immaterial. By debasing others to get ahead and make himself seem more, Dombey made himself worthless. Deprived of everything he surrounded himself with to fool himself into believing he had and was something, Dombey is forced at last to confront his own emptiness. The lonely neglect he subjected his loyal, loving daughter to, simply because she did not fit his imposed estimation of value, Dombey finally himself is forced to face.


 Like the high and mighty King Lear, Paul Dombey is brought low. Only then, when weak and emotional, can he admit the error of his ways and not solely accept the love of his daughter Florence but also reciprocate it. As a capitalist, Dombey represents the utter failure of that system's commodification of human relations and its complete inversion of value. As misogynist, Dombey represents the inbuilt hostility of patriarchy to human life and its antipathy to the spiritual and emotional advancement of man. As Father of the female suit Earth, Dombey is something of a male version of Persephone, rescued from Hades not by the goddess' mother but by the all too human father's daughter.


 Dombey & Son, with its psychological realism, social commentary, comic absurdity, and redemptive transcendence, sets the groundwork for Dickens' mature work to follow. Dombey is one of those rare Dickens characters who learns from their mistakes and as a result becomes by the novel's end a better and more complete person. Dombey's renaissance and growth as a father and a human being is seen here, on the final card of the Minor Arcana, in his love for his grandchildren, Florence and Paul, and their pure love for him.



Shorthand : cautious - methodical - perhaps mechanical - old-fashioned - stuck in the past - dull - materialistic - capable of deep thought and feeling, only he doesn't always engage - slow to give affection - unable to adapt to change - committed to outmoded ways - hides his weakness in grandeur - insular - devoted to those he loves, but has a strange way of showing it - afraid of the transitory - impervious to beauty - commands loyalty - fears his own feelings, and responds by being implacable - proof positive change must come from within - acceptance and bounty will follow.

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