Dombey and Son: The Hungry City

She often looked with compassion, at such a time, upon the stragglers who came wandering into London, by the great highway hard by, and who, footsore and weary, and gazing fearfully at the huge town before them, as if foreboding that their misery there would be but as a drop of water in the sea, or as a grain of sea-sand on the shore, went shrinking on, cowering before the angry weather, and looking as if the very elements rejected them. Day after day, such travellers crept past, but always, as she thought, In one direction—always towards the town. Swallowed up in one phase or other of its immensity, towards which they seemed impelled by a desperate fascination, they never returned. Food for the hospitals, the churchyards, the prisons, the river, fever, madness, vice, and death,—they passed on to the monster, roaring in the distance, and were lost.

—Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son

I think the same could be written today about many cities in the world where people go in search of a better life and are devoured by the fascinating monster. Even so, the one-way traffic continues…


5 comments on “Dombey and Son: The Hungry City

  1. Seesaw says:

    Dickens is somebody I would take with me to the lonely island!
    For sure!

  2. Stefanie says:

    New York City, Los Angeles people going there to “make it big” and become rich and famous only to be “lost.” Things don't change much do they?

  3. Sylvia says:

    Zdenka, Dickens is certainly a worthy companion for the desert isle!

    Stefanie, yes, exactly. Dickens is as relevant as ever because he wrote about cities and cities always have the same issues.

  4. And as it happened, I did not take him to the deserted island but to the hospital!

  5. That is unfortunate, but at least your hospital is better than the ones in Dickens' time!

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