Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Saddest Paragraph I've Ever Read

If you've never read the novel, at this point, very early in the story, Esther Summerson is a young girl being raised by a very unpleasant godmother. Esther never knew her parents, and has only known unhappiness. She blames this state entirely on herself. Her only comfort is her doll, named Dolly.

"I went up to my room, and crept to bed, and laid my doll's cheek against mine wet with tears, and holding that solitary friend upon my bosom, cried myself to sleep. Imperfect as my understanding of my sorrow was, I knew that I had brought no joy at any time to anybody's heart and that I was to no one upon earth what Dolly was to me."

-Charles Dickens
Bleak House

I mean, for Christ's sake, Dickens. Tear my heart out, why don't you?


Patricia Perry said...

That chokes me up just reading. I guess they didn't call it "BLEAK" house for nothing.

bill r. said...

Pat, that passage comes about twenty pages into the book, if that. And just like that, with about 900 pages still left to go, you're completely invested in this character and have to find out if everything turns out okay for her.

I read the paragraph out loud to my wife when I first encountered it, and she never wants me to read it to her again.