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Better Left UnsaidVictorian Novels, Hays Code Films, and the Benefits of Censorship$
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Nora Gilbert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804784207

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804784207.001.0001

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Beyond Censorship

Beyond Censorship

Charles Dickens and Frank Capra

Chapter:
(p.80) 3 Beyond Censorship
Source:
Better Left Unsaid
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804784207.003.0004

This chapter explores the parallels between Charles Dickens and Frank Capra, finding similarities in their form, style, and narrative treatments of controversial material. While Dickens and Capra valued popular success and the idea of artistic respectability, they also shared lofty ideas about the importance of social truth in art, and worked hard to create texts that would carefully walk the line between pleasing innocuousness and gritty realism. To that end, both artists created stories that were sharply critical of social and political ills but which still managed to exude an impression of soft-hearted idealism, even sentimentalism. The chapter suggests that Dickens and Capra intentionally infused their texts with an exaggerated aura of innocence and purity in order to make their most challenging notions acceptable and marketable to as large an audience as possible. This is especially true of Dickens's A Christmas Carol (1843) and Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946), each of which offers the audience a warm, inviting, Christmassy façade that artfully overshadows the darker, more pessimistic implications at its core.

Keywords:   social truths, social commentary, idealism, sentimentalism, A Christmas Carol, Wonderful Life

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