In a novel where wood and human life are closely bound, woodenness is Dickens's metaphor for a perversely narcissistic self that spreads pygmalionist petrification to ever larger levels of interpersonal relations, thus giving rise to cultural atavism at a time when progress is heralded as the epoch's credo. The taking over of bodies and spaces by wood points to the propagation of an unnatural mentality nourished by a pathological clinging to a fetishized past as a compensation for the present feeling of lack and amputation. But far from being blocked, the possibility of regeneration requires a protean subject that undergoes castration in the form of an empathetic opening unto the other, one that carries the reader outside the double logic of narcissistic projection and introjection.

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