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Roaring Trains and Ringing Bells: A Stylistic Analysis of Soundscape in Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son

Federica Zullo


In my essay I investigate Charles Dickens’s innovative use of language combined with a specific reference to the acoustic environment, which characterizes most of his works and defines his pervasive style. Rhythms, alliterations, the use of anaphora and onomatopoeia, and the variations of register in Dombey and Son constitute the most visible and ‘audible’ examples of the relationship between language and soundscape, as I explain in the first part of my work. Later, I explore how, in Dombey and Son, Dickens surprises and displaces the reader by using internal deviation and omitting the normally expected clues of context and coherence. I analyse these linguistic and stylistic aspects in the chapters that refer to the railway boom and the sounds of trains and ringing bells that accompany the troubled misadventures of one of the novel’s main characters.


Charles Dickens; Dombey and Son; Style; Soundscape; Train; Bell; Foregrounding; Defamiliarization; Internal deviation; Estrangement.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2020-001-zull

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (06/04/2012 n. 185)
Online ISSN 1724-8698 - Print ISSN 2281-8952

Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Studi Umanistici e Internazionali: Storia, Culture, Lingue, Letterature, Arti, Media
Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo

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