Monday, February 27, 2012

Running Into Nonsense With Flora Finching

The elusive Mrs. F!
Flora Finching is probably the funniest character in Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit. She definitely makes me laugh no matter which film adaptation I'm watching! Her ridiculous sentimental expressions and blundering slips are quite comical.

When I was looking up some of her quotes I was only the teeniest bit surprised to find that her long-winded dialog has few punctuation marks - a couple commas but hardly any period marks! Her lengthy speeches are akin to Miss Bates in Jane Austen's Emma! They just go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on....(clears throat) anyway!

In the book Arthur and Flora were once in love but never married. Years later when he sees her again nothing is left of the pretty and sweet girl he once new. I love his expression at first seeing Flora in the 2009 miniseries
Haha! Poor Arthur! Not quite what he was expecting! :)

Let's take a look at some of Flora's comedy gold:

"Dear old days gone for ever!"
'You mustn't think of going yet,' said Flora--Arthur had looked at his hat, being in a ludicrous dismay, and not knowing what to do: 'you could never be so unkind as to think of going, Arthur--I mean Mr Arthur--or I suppose Mr Clennam would be far more proper--but I am sure I don't know what I am saying--without a word about the dear old days gone for ever, when I come to think of it I dare say it would be much better not to speak of them and it's highly probable that you have some much more agreeable engagement and pray let Me be the last person in the world to interfere with it though there was a time, but I am running into nonsense again.' 
- Flora Finching, Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Chapter 13

I enjoyed the 1988 adaptation's portrayal of Flora, especially the extra bits they took straight from the book! 

Arthur clearly doesn't love Flora anymore and she seems to feel that Arthur must definitely be devoted to young Amy Dorrit. 

  'Ask me not,' said Flora, 'if I love him still or if he still loves me or what the end is to be or when, we are surrounded by watchful eyes and it may be that we are destined to pine asunder it may be never more to be reunited not a word not a breath not a look to betray us all must be secret as the tomb wonder not therefore that even if I should seem comparatively cold to Arthur or Arthur should seem comparatively cold to me we have fatal reasons it is enough if we understand them hush!'
All of which Flora said with so much headlong vehemence as if she really believed it. There is not much doubt that when she worked herself into full mermaid condition, she did actually believe whatever she said in it.

  'Hush!' repeated Flora, 'I have now told you all, confidence is established between us hush, for Arthur's sake I will always be a friend to you my dear girl and in Arthur's name you may always rely upon me.' - Flora Finching, Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Chapter 24

Poor Amy! There was little need for Flora to keep saying "hush, hush" as Amy couldn't get a word in edgewise if she wanted to! :)

"Arthur not Doyce and Clennam"
During the story Amy Dorrit does some sewing for Flora at her house. When Arthur Clennam has some life-changing news for Amy he seeks her out and whisks her away leaving Flora to make this departing speech: 

"The dress will never be finished but shall be laid aside and called Little Dorrit!"
'...everybody will congratulate you some in earnest and some not and many will congratulate you with all their hearts but none more so I do assure you from the bottom of my own I do myself though sensible of blundering and being stupid, and will be judged by Arthur not Doyce and Clennam for this once so good-bye darling and God bless you and may you be very happy and excuse the liberty, vowing that the dress shall never be finished by anybody else but shall be laid by for a keepsake just as it is and called Little Dorrit though why that strangest of denominations at any time I never did myself and now I never shall!' - Flora Finching, Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Chapter 35

Oh dear! Are you giggling as much as I am? and I haven't even mentioned anything about Mr. F's aunt! 

Flora and Mr. F's aunt make a visit to Doyce and Clennam, Arthur's offices:

'Good gracious, Arthur,--I should say Mr Clennam, far more proper--the climb we have had to get up here and how ever to get down again without a fire-escape and Mr F.'s Aunt slipping through the steps and bruised all over and you in the machinery and foundry way too only think, and never told us!'
Thus, Flora, out of breath. Meanwhile, Mr F.'s Aunt rubbed her esteemed insteps with her umbrella, and vindictively glared.
- Charles Dicken's Little Dorrit, Chapter 24

Dear, delightful, ridiculous Flora! How we love to laugh at you! And how glad we are of poor Arthur Clennam's narrow escape from your nonsense. (boy, that sounded a bit harsh but it's true!) :)
The phrase "excessively diverting" comes to mind with regards to Flora. I think Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet would have laughed her head off if she'd ever met her! hehe :)

What are your favorite Flora Finching quotes?

Which Jane Austen character do you think would have laughed the most at Flora's silliness? 


Diana said...

Flora, I am ashamed to say it, had temporarily slipped my mind; it's been a while since I've read her 'scenes' in Little Dorrit or watched the adaptation. Thank you for reminding me of this Dickensian gem!

I agree that Elizabeth would have found Flora quite diverting. I also think Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst would have laughed at her, but in a very snobbish way that would be entirely at Flora's expense.

Sarah Joy said...

Haha! This made me laugh!! It's been so long since I watched Little Dorrit last that I can't remember her quotes! :( I loved that movie (the new one). I haven't seen the older one, is it good? I want to read the book but I have so many yet to read till that one. :) I'm reading Northanger Abbey right now and I love it! Have you read that? LOVE the blog by the way!

Charity U said...

Oh dear yes, she was hilarious! :)

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Yes the old one is interesting but not as good as the new one, and it drags on a bit.
I adore Northanger Abbey! It's my favorite Jane Austen novel! Henry Tilney is my favorite hero, he's so funny! I've read it many times and always enjoy it and find something new to love. Thanks for stopping by! :)

MomWaldsPlace said...

I feel a bit sorry for her. Can you imagine living with that father? Can you imagine what type of a husband he picked out for her? She'll likely never have a chance to be cherished again, if she ever was. Is it better to be silly than pitiful?

Oh, and inheriting that senseless elderly lady. Having only her for company would drive anyone to babbling.

It seems I have started babbling just thinking about it!

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