We're in the great wind-down phase now. Much happened in these four chapters, of which the most important feels like the deaths of Ham and Steerforth during that dreadful tempest. Tempest--there's a word that sounds downright lighthearted and not at all like the nightmare it really was, rather like last month in Britain.
Unfortunately this section was bookended with two chapters on the Micawbers, who, by this point, I'm happy to see fading off into the sunset, heading to Australia. I have no doubt they will be no more financially responsible there than they were in their home country. And long-winded. Mr. Micawber is quite fortunate that he chose to do the right thing in terms of Uriah Heep, or he'd be trapped forever in debtor's prison.
Speaking of the Heep of infamy, what's up with him filing all those suits against Micawber? Shouldn't he be hiding somewhere, hoping Davy and Agnes don't haul him to court?
The storm was more than impressive, and the impact of Ham trying to help the person who turned out to have destroyed his life--in more ways than one--was of course tremendously sad. Even Steerforth's loss is sad, as Davy faces the difficulty of first what to do with his body and second notifying his family. Interesting tidbit: At the beginning of chapter 56, there's this line: "They felt as if it were not right to lay [Steerforth] down in the same quiet room." In the footnotes, this: "MS adds, 'While I tried to consider what it would be best to do, the wind plucked at the flag, as if it were eager to get underneath and see its work.'" I wish Dickens had kept that line intact.
And oh my, Miss Dartle! What a picture of vengeance and anger! Yet Mrs. Steerforth, before he tells her about her son's death, clearly knows something is amiss and still finds it in her to say kind things to Davy about his being a widower.
I still feel like there might be more Heep to come. Certainly I hope he meets his "great pulverisation", as Mr. Micawber put it. But clearly ends are wrapping up. Ham, Steerforth, Emily, Martha, the Micawbers, the Peggottys, Mrs. Gummidge--all accounted for. What's left? Davy, Agnes, Aunt Betsey, Mr. Dick, and Heep.
All righty then. One more week. Finish the book.