Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Conflicting Models of Care for People with Mental Disabilities in Charles Dickens's Fiction and Journalism

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2015), 9, (1), 89–105.

Abstract

In contrast to the mid-Victorian medical discourse extolling the benefits of asylums and residential training schools for children with mental impairments, contemporary literary representations criticize the institutional provision of care, instead favouring a community solution, which indeed was the predominant model throughout the Victorian era. The article explores representations of caring in the novels and journalism of Charles Dickens in comparison to the models of care available for people with mental disabilities in England at the time. Dickens's support for the disadvantaged is legendary, but the subject of care for people with mental disabilities in his work is more nuanced than has hitherto been shown.

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Ray-Barruel, Gillian