Character Profile: Lord Decimus Tite Barnacle.

Lord Decimus Tite Barnacle is the controller of the Circumlocution Office.

Character Profile: Tite Barnacle.

One of the staff in the Circumlocution Department in London. He is part of the titled family, the Barnacles. Arthur encounters him in his persistence first to learn the creditor who keeps William Dorrit in debtors’ prison, then to get the patent for Doyce’s invention, two unsuccessful ventures.

Character Profile: Lady Barnacle.

Lady Barnacle

Character Profile: Clarence Barnacle.

Clarence Barnacle is the son of Tite Barnacle who works at the Circumlocution Office

Character Profile: William Barnacle M.P.

William Barnacle

Character Profile: Ferdinand Barnacle.

Ferdinand Barnacle is Lord Decimus Tite Barnacle ‘s private secretary, and a younger member of the nepotic Barnacle family that control the Circumlocution Office, a bureaucratic government department. He is friends with Henry Gowan, an artist and distant relative to the Barnacle family.. Ferdinand Barnacle visits Arthur Clennam at the Marshalsea prison, happy to learn the Circumlocuation Office did not put him into the debtors’ prison, and tries to explain the value of their office doing nothing to Arthur. advises him to give up his struggles with the Circumlocution Office


Background: Dickens and The Circumlocution Office.

In Book 1, Chapter 10 of Little Dorrit, Arthur Clennam visits a government department called the Circumlocution Office trying to find out about the case against a man called William Dorrit, who has been imprisoned for debt. He is passed from official to official trying to find a satisfactory answer. The officials in charge of the department are typified by the nepotic and self-serving upper-class Barnacle family, who revel in obfuscation and red tape. Charles Dickens deliberately introduced the Circumlocution Office into the novel to parody civil service mismanagement. At the time Dickens was writing and publishing the early chapters of Little Dorrit there was a public outcry at government mismanagement of the Crimean War, a conflict that had started in October 1853 between Russia and an alliance that included Britain, France, and the Ottoman Empire. Graphic descriptions had appeared in the British press of troops serving in the war suffering from disease, hunger and neglect. The alarming reports of mismanagement led to an enquiry by a parliamentary select committee. Public opposition culminated in a riot on Sunday, 21 January 1855, in London’s Trafalgar Square. Less than two weeks later the government, a coalition of political factions under the leadership of Lord Aberdeen, fell and the Home Secretary, Lord Palmerston, took over as the new Prime Minister. The Crimean War ended with the signing of The Treaty of Paris in March 1856. Little Dorrit was serialized in twenty monthly parts from December 1855 through to June 1857, followed shortly after by the whole novel in one volume.


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