Richard has the natural optimism and enthusiasm of youth but is also impractical, irresponsible, and congenitally restless. For these less desirable traits, the Chancery Court cannot be held responsible; the young man appears to have inherited them from his ancestors. Of course, these weaknesses make the effects of Chancery on Richard all the more credible. But they also raise a problem: having such defects, perhaps Richard would have turned out badly anyway. Would Dickens have made his point harder-hitting if he had shown us a quite solid young man being worn down and finally ruined by Chancery despite that solidity?
We view Richard only from the outside; his inner life is never revealed in its concreteness. If we are to feel the evils of the law as a symbol of, or at least a type of the “dead hand” of the past, we need to have someone who is sufficiently “real” to us so that we can feel strongly for him as those institutionalized evils progressively weaken and destroy him. Is Richard a sufficiently engaging and knowable character to be singled out by Dickens as the one who, more than anyone else, will drive the book’s point home?