The novels of Charles Dickens include many vivid portraits of individuals with physical disabilities or deformities, and these conditions are often used symbolically to highlight some of the author's recurring themes. Disabled children are depicted as innocent victims, while their older counterparts are most often viewed as corrupt victimizers whose physical deformities are outward manifestations of their inner depravity. Punishment for moral failings in non-disabled characters frequently takes the form of paralysis and/or aphasia resulting from a cerebrovascular accident. In this context the wheelchair becomes a potent metaphor of imprisonment as a form of retributive justice.
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