Charles Dickens Essay, Research Paper
Thesis: Charles Dickens was a well-known author who had many
II. List of Works
III. Common Work
IV. Critical Evaluation
Charles Dickens was an English author. He is considered one of the greatest
authors of the Victorian period. Charles Dickens was a well-known author who had
many great works (Webster, 352).
Charles John Huffman Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport
Hampshire. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office. His mother was a
housekeeper ( Kunitz182).
Charles Dickens’ father was paid well, but often brought financial embarrassment
to his family. In 1824, he was taken to debtors’ prison. Charles was taken out of
school. He was forced to work in a factory. It is obvious that in some of Dicken’s
books “the images of the prison and of the lost, oppressed, or bewildered child recur
in many of his novels.” (Webster, 352).
Dicken’s mother was well-known for her storytelling ability. She was a little out
of her social class. Her father was a naval lieutenant (Webster 352).
Charles had eight siblings. He was the second oldest. When he was young he
would occasionally have mysterious spasms, which ceased at adolescents. When
Charles was two, his father was transferred from Portsea to London. A short period
after he was transferred to Chatham (Kunitz 182).
When Charles was young, his mother taught him his alphabet. He became
interested in fiction novels from his father’s library. He was placed back in school at
the age of nine (182).
At the age of fifteen Charles Dickens became a soliciter’s clerk. He taught
himself shorthand. Charles spent most of his free time reading in the British museum.
He was promoted to court reporting, then to reporting in the House of Commons (Kunitz
During this period Dickens unsuccessfully tried to perform on stage. At the age
of eighteen he fell deeply in love with Maria Beadnell. She was sent away to Paris by
her family. She jilted Charles upon her return (Kunitz 182).
Charles Dickens first sketch was published in the Monthly Magazine, he was not
paid. He later published sketches in the Evening Chronicle. This was the first
magazine he had ever his been paid for writing. All of these sketches were issued as
a book in 1836 (Kunitz182).
Charles Dickens fell in love with Mary Hogarth, but she was too young to get
married. For some peculiar reason he married her older sister Catherine Hogarth in
1836. Mary died in 1837. Catherine and Charles were both filled with grief. Later,
they had ten children (Kunitz 182).
In 1841, Charles had surgery but that did not stop him from from writing. In
1842, Charles visited the United States, for the first time. This trip resulted in
American Notes and Martin Chuzzlewit (Kunitz 182).
By this time, Charles had a house in London and Regents Park. He also had a
summerhouse at Broadstairs. Charles was making a fortune in spite of ill-advised
early contracts, and consequent quarrels with publishers (Kunitz 182).
Georgina Hogarth was Christine’s youngest sister. Georgina lived with
Charles and Christine and helped take care of the children when she was only
fifteen. Charles worked hard to provide for his large family (Kunitz 183).
At this time, Dickens was described as a slightly undersized man with delicate
features. He had fine skin, brown hair that he wore too long, and a thin, wiry beard
and whiskers. The man who was once a poor boy had become a rich man (Kunitz
Soon Charles began to act in private theatricals. His acting career took up
enormous amounts of time and energy, which interfered with his writings. In 1844
and 1845, he spent time with his family in Italy. After he returned to England,
Charles became editor of The Daily News. This was his only financial failure (Kunitz
In 1849, Charles became editor of a magazine, which was a huge success.
The magazine contained much of his own writings. The name of the magazine was
the Household Words. He remained editor of the magazine until his death (Kunitz
In 1858, it was shocking news that Dickens had separated from his wife.
The marriage was unhappy from the beginning. The English-world was shocked
that for twenty-two years they had lived together and produced ten children, without
ever really loving each other or even being compatible at all (Kunitz 183).
The oldest son went with his mother. The other children stayed with their
father and their Aunt Georgina. Charles published a letter explaining the separation
and hinting at his wife’s insanity. It was meant to only be circulated among friends,
but he published it anyway. This was the worst of Charles’ affairs (Kunitz 183).
Charles Dickens had many great works. His first book was Sketches by
Boz. This book was about his work as a journalist. His first novel was The Pickwick
Papers. He wrote the novel in 1836 and published it in 1837 (Magill 291).
After The Pickwick Papers Charles was the most popular English novelist in
his lifetime. Charles continued the story of The Pickwick Papers in Oliver Twist. He
wrote it in 1837 and published it in 1838. In The Pickwick Papers cruelties and
miseries of the real world are covered up by laughter. Another of his famous books is
Great Expectations. (Magill 291).
Great Expectations is the story of Pip’s life, and of his hopes and dreams–
some realized, some shattered. First published in hardcover in 1861, this novel of
the ancient struggle between good and evil is populated by a rich assortment of
eccentrics. Faithfully reprinted from the first London edition of the book, this volume
includes an analysis of Dickens’s original ending (Dickens 1).
A Christmas Carol is his most famous novel of all. It is also his most famous
Christmas book. It was published in 1843. It is about a man who learns the true
meaning of Christmas (Magill 290).
Ebanezer Scrooge is the main character of the novel. The novel is set near
the Christmas holidays. Scrooge is a man who does not believe in Christmas.
He is the owner of a business who would not let Hatchet, one of his employees,
off for Christmas. Scrooge treats Hatchet badly and pays him little for his hard
work. Scrooge is a cruel, greedy old man (Dickens 23).
On Christmas Eve night Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old
business partner, Marley. Marley told him that three ghost would visit him,
the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of
Christmas Future that night. He also warned him that if he did not change he
would die (Dickens 30).
After Scrooge falls asleep the Ghost of Christmas Past awakens him. The
Ghost takes him back through his past to show him all of the bad things that he had
done throughout his life. He also sees his old love and how he pushed her away,
time after time. After seeing this, Scrooge begins to feel guilty about his
behavior and wants to change (Dickens 44).
The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the hardships of his
employee, Bob Crachit. The Ghost carries him to Bob’s home where Scrooge
sees for the first time the destitute lifestyle of his clerk. Scrooge also sees Tiny Tim,
Crachit’s son who is sickly (Dickens 75 ).
The Ghost of Christmas Future takes Scrooge to a graveyard and he sees his
tombstone. He also sees how people made fun of the way he was buried, and the
way he lived. Next to his tombstone was the small headstone of Tiny Tim. Seeing
this made Scrooge want to be a better person (Dickens 113).
When Scrooge wakes up, he is a changed man. He is filled with the joy of
Christmas. As he walks through the streets, he begins buying and giving away
turkeys and throwing money to all of the poor people in town. All of the townspeople
are pleased with his great change and everyone begins to like him (Dickens 140).
To understand Dickens’ nature, it must be remembered that he was the
apotheosis of the English lower middle class. Because he was an authentic
genius, he possessed all its attributes, good and bad, to a superlative degree. He
was tender-hearted, courageous, generous, supremely industrious, social-minded, a
hater of injustice and a champion of the oppressed—and he was also arrogant,
obstinate, conceited, sentimental, and a bit of a bounder. His vulgar tastelessness in
dress, which could not hide the fine distinction of his features, was no mere accident.
He was entirely without self-criticism or self-discipline (Kunitz & Haycraft 182).
Dickens was undertaking more and more of the exhausting public readings,
with the long, uncomfortable train journeys which they involved, and pouring out
manuscript as curiously as ever. He was never slovenly in his writing, and put
immense energy into it. His health broke, and in 1865 he had a slight stroke of
paralysis which should have been a warning; he was lame thereafter. In 1867
and 1868 he went to America again. This time he and the country, matured by Civil
War, were both politer to each other. He came back after a triumph, with
$20,000 and permanently broken health.. he never became well. He engaged
himself for another long reading tour, which he was to his distress, forced to leave
uncompleted. He kept on writing, and was at work on The Mystery of Edwin Drood
the day before he died. He came into the house from his writing (in a garden house
called the “Chateau”), said a few incoherent words, and fell stricken with apoplexy.
He died twenty-four hours later. Though his wish for a quiet funeral was observed, it
was not in the country graveyard he had contemplated, but in Westminster Abbey
Charles Dickens was one of the greatest authors of all times. Dickens was a
well-known author. He had many great works.
Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Harcourt Brace & Company.
Italy: 1995. (1-80).
Crystal, David. Biographical Encyclopedia. Cambridge University
Press. New York: 1994. (277).
Kunitz and Haycraft. British Authors of the Nineteenth Century.
H.W. Wilson Company. New York: 1964. (182-184).
Magill, Frank N. Masterplots of World Authors. Dayton and
Kohler. New York: 1987. (290).
Webster, Merriam. Encyclopedia of Literature. Merriam Webster
Incorporated. Springfield: 1995. (290).