In the BBC mini-series Little Dorrit there is a scene in which Mrs. General tells Amy the correct opinions which she is to express concerning the sites that she and other English tourists visit on the European mainland. Amy asks why she should not just give her honest opinions of these things. Mrs. General reacts with astonishment and tells Amy that society is not the place for unburdening oneself.

That’s how I remember it, anyhow. But I cannot find that scene in the book now. Am I right about the scene? Where is it in the book? Or, failing that, where does the book attribute this view to Mrs. General, that the purpose of conversation in society is simply to repeat fashionable opinions?

2 Answers 2


Could this be the fragment you are thinking of? It is in Book The Second: Riches, chapter 5: Something Right Somewhere.

‘Mr Dorrit,’ returned Mrs General, ‘I have conversed with Amy several times since we have been residing here, on the general subject of the formation of a demeanour. She has expressed herself to me as wondering exceedingly at Venice. I have mentioned to her that it is better not to wonder. I have pointed out to her that the celebrated Mr Eustace, the classical tourist, did not think much of it; and that he compared the Rialto, greatly to its disadvantage, with Westminster and Blackfriars Bridges. I need not add, after what you have said, that I have not yet found my arguments successful. You do me the honour to ask me what to advise. It always appears to me (if this should prove to be a baseless assumption, I shall be pardoned), that Mr Dorrit has been accustomed to exercise influence over the minds of others.’

Mrs. General doesn't actually tell Amy in this scene that society is not the place for unburdening oneself (although it wouldn't have been out of place), but it does mention that it is better not to wonder about Venice all that much.

  • Thanks, that's same sentiment I'm remembering. It may be the book's closest approximation of this memory. But it's so strange: I've re-watched the television series now, streaming at Amazon, and that scene that I remember so vividly is not there. I wonder if it's in some other cut of this series, or if I've imported the scene from some other book or film. The series has several very nice shots of Amy's fascination, and of the natural scenery or architecture that impresses her; and then of Mrs. General rattling off the received wisdom from books that she takes with her everywhere.
    – Chaim
    Jul 3, 2020 at 17:02

I came across this because I was watching the mini-series, and wanted to look up the quote because it was so perfect. It goes something like "society is not for unburdening yourself but for the exchange of correct opinions and sentiments." Anyway, it's there in the DVD version, episode 7 or 8. Seems that it isn't in the book, sadly, if Google is to go by. Reference below may help.


(Added Later): Actually, episode 9 - I found the script online at the link below. https://subslikescript.com/series/Little_Dorrit-1178522/season-1/episode-9-Episode_19

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    Please summarize whatever information is behind that link, see Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer? for why it is important to make answers self-contained. I would rather not register just to get information that should already be in the answer, and the link may go down in the future. Also, note that the other answer already found a passage from the book analogous to the scene.
    – bobble
    Feb 11, 2022 at 18:22
  • I don't know what's behind the link, which is why I didn't summarise it. I just put the link there in case a user wanted to follow up - a google search indicates there's something there. My answer was self-contained and your link is irrelevant.
    – user15746
    Feb 12, 2022 at 11:02
  • Also, yes, I was aware of the other answer, funnily enough, but if you read the original question you will see that not all the questions were answered there.
    – user15746
    Feb 12, 2022 at 11:03
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    Why would you put a link when you don't really know its contents? My link was simply to now why unsummarized are generally a poor idea, not imply your answer is link-only. However, this question seems pretty clearly about finding the scene in the book, and your only have a single, unsupported sentence in your answer addressing that
    – bobble
    Feb 12, 2022 at 15:11
  • 1
    . I just put the link there in case a user wanted to follow up - a google search indicates there's something there.
    – user15746
    Feb 12, 2022 at 20:03

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