Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Ideas in ThingsFugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Elaine Freedgood

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226261553

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226261546.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 09 April 2020

Realism, Fetishism, and Genocide: Negro Head Tobacco in and around Great Expectations

Realism, Fetishism, and Genocide: Negro Head Tobacco in and around Great Expectations

(p.81) 3 Realism, Fetishism, and Genocide: Negro Head Tobacco in and around Great Expectations
The Ideas in Things

Elaine Freedgood

University of Chicago Press

Repressed horror circulates in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations in many forms, including domestic abuse, state violence, slavery, and cannibalism. This chapter analyzes fetishism, realism, metonymy, and violence in Great Expectations and argues that there is a particularly overwhelming horror that cannot be named but only encoded fetishistically in the most apparently negligible of details. The “negligible” (uninterpretable, insignificant, non-symbolic) detail on which this chapter focuses is “Negro head” tobacco; the horror in question is the genocide of Australian Aborigines during the Victorian period. Negro head tobacco conjures Abel Magwitch's identification of himself as a slave, specifically as the black slave of his erstwhile partner, Compeyson. In the second paragraph of Great Expectations, we find Pip trying to interpret a set of desperately unreaderly texts—the epitaphs on the gravestones of his dead family. He attempts to sketch for himself a portrait of his parents and brothers according to the “evidence” provided by the writing on their gravestones.

Keywords:   Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, Negro head tobacco, state violence, slavery, genocide, fetishism, realism, metonymy, Australian Aborigines

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.