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The Purloined Handkerchief John O. Jordan By Ian Palmer Nick Rowe Ethan Long.

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Presentation on theme: "The Purloined Handkerchief John O. Jordan By Ian Palmer Nick Rowe Ethan Long."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Purloined Handkerchief John O. Jordan By Ian Palmer Nick Rowe Ethan Long

3 The Handkerchief Motif In the 1820’s and 1830’s handkerchiefs: In the 1820’s and 1830’s handkerchiefs: Determined social status Determined social status Common among all people Common among all people Were considered to be an article of luxury Were considered to be an article of luxury Can be seen as a 19 th Century Rolex Can be seen as a 19 th Century Rolex

4 The Purloined Letter Jordan offers that Dickens was attempting to parallel the Purloin Letter by Edgar Allen Poe. Jordan offers that Dickens was attempting to parallel the Purloin Letter by Edgar Allen Poe. Oliver’s missing father is marked in the novel by both letters and written documents that were kept secret by Monks such as: Oliver’s missing father is marked in the novel by both letters and written documents that were kept secret by Monks such as: The will The will The letter The letter And the unnamed proofs And the unnamed proofs

5 The Handkerchief Class System Lower class handkerchiefs were: Lower class handkerchiefs were: Cotton Cotton Worn around the neck Worn around the neck They were weary of the gallows. They were weary of the gallows. Used for shielding the sun and for wiping sweat Used for shielding the sun and for wiping sweat Stole handkerchiefs from the wealthy Stole handkerchiefs from the wealthy

6 Class System (cont.) Middle class handkerchiefs were: Middle class handkerchiefs were: Cotton Cotton Worn in trouser pockets (we concluded in modern day they could be worn around the head also) Worn in trouser pockets (we concluded in modern day they could be worn around the head also) Usually solid colored Usually solid colored

7 Class System (cont. again) Upper class handkerchiefs were: Upper class handkerchiefs were: Silk Silk Worn in lapel pockets Worn in lapel pockets Patterned Patterned Stitched with the owner’s name Stitched with the owner’s name

8 Bumble’s ‘Kercheifs Mr. Bumble had one handkerchief in his hat and one in his pocket. Mr. Bumble had one handkerchief in his hat and one in his pocket. This can be seen as an attempt to gain a higher social status. This can be seen as an attempt to gain a higher social status. He removed the ‘kerchief from his hat to wipe his brow. He removed the ‘kerchief from his hat to wipe his brow. Symbolizes poverty Symbolizes poverty He removed the other ‘kerchief from his pocket when having tea. He removed the other ‘kerchief from his pocket when having tea. Symbolizes wealth Symbolizes wealth

9 Dickens’ Key Points “Clothes are a powerful way of marking social distinction in a class society…” “Clothes are a powerful way of marking social distinction in a class society…” “Power itself is often vested in clothing or social roles rather than the person.” “Power itself is often vested in clothing or social roles rather than the person.” “Dress codes function not just as a differential system of classification, but as a means of social control; whereby institutions like the workhouse identify and regulate members of the lower class.” “Dress codes function not just as a differential system of classification, but as a means of social control; whereby institutions like the workhouse identify and regulate members of the lower class.”

10 Handkerchiefs and Hangings Neckerchiefs were worn by thieves and criminals. They served as a form of protection for a sensitive area. They also served as a reminder of the “figurative noose” that was around their necks.

11 Examples of Criminal Use On several instances Sikes attacked people’s throats. On several instances Sikes attacked people’s throats. Sikes attempts to drown his dog by tying a handkerchief around its neck. Sikes attempts to drown his dog by tying a handkerchief around its neck. The man in the white waistcoat says Oliver was predestined to be hanged. The man in the white waistcoat says Oliver was predestined to be hanged. As a result Oliver wants to hang himself with a handkerchief; however was too poor to afford one. As a result Oliver wants to hang himself with a handkerchief; however was too poor to afford one. Fagin is seen with a bare throat. Fagin is seen with a bare throat. Because of his great vulnerability to the present danger. Because of his great vulnerability to the present danger. He also ties up his “booty” or jewels with a handkerchief. He also ties up his “booty” or jewels with a handkerchief.

12 Other Connections The search was marked by woven materials. The search was marked by woven materials. A “patchwork coverlet” was put over a dead woman’s body. A “patchwork coverlet” was put over a dead woman’s body. There is an “old blanket” that covers the dead body of the old lady when Mr. Sowerberry goes to retrieve the body. There is an “old blanket” that covers the dead body of the old lady when Mr. Sowerberry goes to retrieve the body. At the Brownlow’s home Oliver sees Miss Bedwin appear through the curtains. At the Brownlow’s home Oliver sees Miss Bedwin appear through the curtains.

13 Other Other Connections Dickens describes a “dusky curtain” that hangs over Brownlow’s memory that prevents him from recognizing Oliver from the portrait of his mother. Dickens describes a “dusky curtain” that hangs over Brownlow’s memory that prevents him from recognizing Oliver from the portrait of his mother. The portrait itself is painted on canvas. The portrait itself is painted on canvas. Sikes throws a rug over Nancy’s body after he murders her. Sikes throws a rug over Nancy’s body after he murders her.

14 Nancy Nancy’s handkerchief is white. Nancy’s handkerchief is white. Suggests purity despite the terrible conditions she lives in Suggests purity despite the terrible conditions she lives in Her handkerchief was given to her by Rose. Her handkerchief was given to her by Rose. Signifies the sisterly bond between their different social classes. Signifies the sisterly bond between their different social classes. They were still equal in their devotion to Oliver. They were still equal in their devotion to Oliver. Suggests that it has story value Suggests that it has story value It was traded for information about Oliver. It was traded for information about Oliver.

15 More Nancy Nancy’s handkerchief contained religious significance. Nancy’s handkerchief contained religious significance. She holds it in front of her face before Sikes kills her. She holds it in front of her face before Sikes kills her. “She lifts it towards Heaven and breathes on prayer of mercy to her Maker.” “She lifts it towards Heaven and breathes on prayer of mercy to her Maker.”

16 Oliver Jordan suggests that Oliver is a purloin handkerchief throughout the text, simply waiting to be claimed. Jordan suggests that Oliver is a purloin handkerchief throughout the text, simply waiting to be claimed. He is a blank handkerchief however. Others like Fagin try to inscribe on him. He is a blank handkerchief however. Others like Fagin try to inscribe on him. Fagin starts him by picking the marks out of handkerchiefs. Fagin starts him by picking the marks out of handkerchiefs. This signifies Oliver’s abandonment of himself and his heritage. This signifies Oliver’s abandonment of himself and his heritage.

17 Bibliography Jordan, John O. “The Purloin Handkerchief” Oliver Twist. Ed. Fred Kaplan. New York: Norton, Jordan, John O. “The Purloin Handkerchief” Oliver Twist. Ed. Fred Kaplan. New York: Norton,


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