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the Gorgon he had expected

The Gorgons were sisters in Greek mythology, the best known of whom was Medusa. Looking at her turned men to stone.

in natures, as in seas, depth answers unto depth

The wording here echoes Psalms 42:7: "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all they waves and thy billows are gone over me."

These accidents did sometimes happen in the best-regulated families.

This saying combines allusions to a farce of 1763 (The Deuce is In Him, by George Coleman) and Sir Walter Scott’s Peveril of the Peak (1822) and had become proverbial by the mid-nineteenth century. Dickens used variants on the saying in Pickwick Papers, Dombey and Son, and David Copperfield.

though a graceless person, of the world worldly

This phrasing is a variation on 1 Corinthians 15:47: "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven." Dickens also plays on this verse in the April 22 installment of Hard Times (see Key to Allusions for Issue 2).

When the Devil goeth about like a roaring lion

This Biblical phrase references 1 Peter 5:8: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

Alas, poor Yorick!

This quotation from Hamlet (Act V, Scene I) was well known in the nineteenth century. The full line is: "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy." Dickens saw a performance of Hamlet in Preston on his trip there in January 1854.

Bibliographical information

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