Model Essay Format (textual title page option) by ceili221

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									Jane Doe [one inch margins; 12 pt. type; single-spaced]
Composition I
Professor Schweitzer
May 1, 2020 [two line spaces after date]

        Unique and Interesting Title [14 pt. type, boldface, centered]
       [12 pt. type; double-spaced] The images of dense fog, smog, falling soot, inky drizzle,
mud, mire, decay, slime, blight, noxious exhalations, and miasma adorning Charles
Dickens’s vision of the Court of Chancery invite readers of Bleak House to witness the
insidious malignancy of modern institutions. The imagery is palpably oppressive. And
indeed no one in the novel can escape the fog, mud, and decay surrounding Chancery.
Although the original Court of Chancery, as a literal structure, would cease to exist twenty
years after the publication of Bleak House, Chancery, as the symbolic embodiment of big
government and private corporate administration, still remains an apt emblem for the
modern age. The cleverness and aptness of the symbol of Chancery for our own times, as
well as for Dickens’s, has allowed Bleak House to become a sort of representative Dickens
text, being now widely considered his magnum opus. Accordingly, in subsequent centuries,
another Dickens novel, Little Dorrit, has grown up not in the shadow of the Marshalsea (the
novel’s own informing symbol), but rather in the dense fog surrounding Chancery of Bleak
House. Thus, the symbol of Chancery itself, for many critics, often melts indistinctly into

the symbol of the Circumlocution Office, and, thus also, the sense of structural
determinism that pervades Bleak House—the power of institutions to create and limit social
realities and the sense of historical causality—becomes associated with both novels without
much differentiation. Now would be an appropriate time for Little Dorrit to step out of the
Chancery’s fog and back into the Marshalsea’s shadow, so that it may be seen in the light in
which Dickens originally placed it and that it may therefore also reveal Dickens’s own
critique of historical epistemology and how that critique informs his evolving narrative

practice, particularly at this late, yet productive, point in his career. Dickens, in Little
Dorrit, is not only bound up in a negotiation with the Romantic sense of the individual at a

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                                              Doe 2 [10 pt.; aligned right; all subsequent pages]

perceived moment of a crisis of the self (as a historical agent) in Victorian England, but also
with himself and the possibilities of narrative storytelling in an age of historical
determinism. For Dickens, the question is both epistemological and ontological: how can
one derive understanding, meaning, and knowledge from history (either real or fictive) and
what does it mean to be an individual in history. If, as Paul Smith suggests, one of the ways
the individual becomes constructed in the modern period is as the “subject,” or “as the
specifically subjected object of social and historical forces and determinisms,” then
Dickens’s grand effort in Little Dorrit is to find the individual within the constituted subject
and to explore the nature of that individual (Smith xxvii). [two line spaces after end of essay]

Works Cited [12 pt. type; boldface; centered; one line space between WC header and WC
[in alphabetical order] Briggs, Asa. Victorian Things. London: B. T. Batsford, 1988.
Butt, John and Kathleen Tillotson. Dickens at Work: His Early and Late Novels. London:
       Methuen and Co., 1957.
Childers, Joseph. “History, Totality, Opposition: The New Historicism and Little Dorrit.”
       Dickens Quarterly 6, 4 (December 1989): 150–7.

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