Surprising neat and symmetrical for a Dickens novel: almost every character is involved significantly in a child/parent relationship, and most of the plot lines deal with ways in which fathers and others can be good or bad parents and bless or blight their children's lives. There are parallel women ruined by their mother's greedy upbringing of them to use their attractiveness for profit--one fairly well off, the other very poor. There are opposing parents who either give their children no love (Dombey) or offer them a lot of it (the men who bring up Walter). There is a large family brought up lovingly and another large family beaten and boisterous. And there are various uncles and aunts in the role of parents. There's also a pretty intense sermon about how far from criminals acting "unnaturally," it's social conditions that blight the poor and produce crime. For a long time, almost nothing happens--but then there's a big payoff for that, as people frozen in their prideful relationships and others separated trough the machinations of their enemies all suddenly collide and explode in melodramatic soap opera.