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The novel opens with Guy Mannering casting the horoscope for the newborn heir to the Laird of Ellengowan. Unfortunately Guy's predictions were correct, and Henry Bertram is kidnapped at age five and eventually adopted by a Dutch merchant. Amidst the chaos of the time Harry must find his rightful place or lose his inheritance forever. The novel is also notable for its vividly portrayed minor characters, including Meg Merrilies who was based on the real life 'queen of the gypsies'.
The writings of Charles Dickens were often critical of society and government. This satire, Little Dorrit was also an outlet for Dickens' opinion of prison, particularly debtor's prisons. There people (including Dickens' own) who failed to pay their debts were imprisoned, paradoxically unable to work, until the debt was repaid. The story of Little Dorrit (whose father is imprisoned for debt) tells of the courtship between herself and Arthur Clennam and demonstrates the grim effects of imprisonment on those within as well as those beyond but whose lives are inextricably intertwined.
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