Charles Dickens



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Charles Dickens
The writer of the compromise
Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, in 1812. He had an unhappy childhood since his father was imprisoned for debt. Charles was put to work in a factory. When his father was released , Dickens was sent to a school in London. At fifteen , he found employment as an office boy at an attorney’s , and studied shorthand at night. By 1832 he had become a very successful shorthand reporter of Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons, and began to work as a reporter for a newspaper. In 1833 his first story appeared and in 1836, still a newspaper reporter, he adopted the pen name Boz, publishing Sketches by boy, a collection of articles describing London people and scenes written for the periodical “Monthly Magazine”. It was immediately followed by The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, which was published in instalments and revealed Dickens’s humoristic and satirical qualities. After the success of Pickwick, Dickens started a full-time career as a novelist although he continued his journalistic and editorial activities. The most important novels are Oliver twist, Nicholas Nickleby, Martin Chuzzlewit and A Christmas Carol. The protagonists of his autobiographical novels, Oliver Twist(1838), David Copperfield(1849-50) and Little Dorrit(1857) became the symbols o fan exploited childhood confronted with the grim and bitter realities of slums and factories. Other works include Bleak House(1853),Hard Times(1854)and Great Expectations(1860-61),dealing with social issues, such as the conditions of the poor and the working class in general. He spent his last years living readings of his own work in England, Scotland, and Ireland, until he died in London in 1870. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.
Dickens shifted the social frontiers of the novel: the 18th-century realistic upper middle-class word was replaced by that of the lower orders. He created caricatures, trying to arouse the reader’s interest by describing the characters, habits, and language of the middle and lower classes in modern London, like lodging-house keepers, shopkeepers, petty tradesmen, whose social peculiarities, vanity and ambition he ridiculed freely, though without sarcasm. He was always on the side of the poor, the outcast, and also the working class.
A didactic aim
Children are often the most important characters in Dickens’s novels. Dickens makes children the moral teachers instead of the taught, the examples instead of the imitators. The novelist’s ability lay both in making his readers love his children, and putting them forward as models of the way people ought to behave towards one another. Dickens’s task was never to induce the most wronged and suffering to rebel, or even encourage discontent, but to get the common intelligence of the country, in all its different classes alike, to alleviate undeniable sufferings.
Dickens’s narrative
Dickens was first and foremost a storyteller. His novels were influenced by the Bible, fairy tales, fables, and nursery rhymes, by the 18th-century novelists and essayists, and by Gothic novels. His plots are well-planned even if at times they sound a bit artificial,sentimental, and episodic. Certainly the conditions of publication in monthly or weekly instalments discouraged unified plotting and created pressure on Dickens to conform to the public taste. London was the setting of most of his novels. He was aware of the spiritual and material corruption of present-day reality under the impact of industrialism. In fact, in his mature works Dickens succeeded in drawing popular attention to public abuses, evils and wrongs by mingling terrible descriptions of London misery and crime with the most amusing sketches of the town.