Charles Dickens 3 Essay, Research Paper
Charles Dickens criticizes his society and everything that he thinks is wrong about it. He expresses all his dislikes in the society of the Victorian Era. He expresses his feelings about the Victorian society in all his writings. He criticizes many things in each book he has written. Dickens traveled a lot and had seen many little things and some great things, which, because they interested him, he thought may interest others (Internet Site #3). His books all contain themes that show Dickens s dislike of the way his society is. He wrote primarily for the lower-middle class. He was not particularly fond of the aristocratic class, and how they treated the people of lower classes. His ideas and attitudes were typical to the people of the lower-middle class. His audience was people of the same class as him, so they could understand his feelings and beliefs.
He displays his moral beliefs in every book that he has written. Dickens was a very big advocate in the plea of Poor versus Rich (Internet Site #1). Dickens gave plenty of aid to this plea by the works that he wrote, which provided progress to the battle for the poor. All of Dickens novels show the battle between upper and lower classes. He portrays the lower class in a respectable way, but he portrays the proletarian people in such a dishonorable way that the reader in some books despises them. One example of this is in Tale of Two Cities. This book shows how most people were poor during the French Revolution. The aristocracy consisted of about 3 percent of the population, and everyone else was poor in the lower class. This book shows the admirable qualities of the poor, and how they managed to squeak out a living despite the horrible conditions that they lived in. Dickens makes the reader feel bad for the lower classes in many books. He introduces many poor children in his books that the reader feels bad for because of their upbringing. This can be seen in Bleak House with the introduction of Jo into the novel. Jo was a poor boy who did everything he could to try and make money. Dickens makes the reader feel bad when Jo dies because the he could not help that he was given such a rough life, but he tried his best to survive. The reader also feels bad because he dies at such a young age.
Another aspect of Victorian society that Dickens disliked was child labor. This was because as a young boy Dickens was forced to work. At age twelve, he was put to work at the Blacking Factory. This horrible experience affected him all his life, but this became a source both of creative energy and of the preoccupation with the themes of alienation and betrayal (Internet Site #2). This theme of alienation can be seen in Great Expectations because Pip is of a much lower class than Hiss Havisham and Estella. It is obvious that Pip is much different from them.
In 1842, Dickens visited Canada and the United States. Dickens American Notes created a furor in America (Internet Site #2). In these writings, he presented in a disgusting way the American practice of chewing tobacco and spitting out the juice, which he considered to be quite distasteful. He also wrote Martin Chuzzlewit, which portrayed America in not a very attractive way. These two works did not make Dickens very favorable in America.
Dickens Christmas Carol presented many of Dickens criticisms of his society. This book was supposed to be a whimsical sort of masque intended to awaken loving and forbearing thoughts (Internet Site #2). This book also shows the lower class versus the aristocracy. This is his running theme throughout all his books. This book conveys that wealth does not always mean happiness. Scrooge had all the wealth in the world, but he was not happy. Another theme in this book is greed, which is one of Scrooge s qualities. Dickens understands the evils that greed can cause, so he criticizes it in Christmas Carol. This book also contains the theme of alienation because Scrooge alienates himself from the rest of the world, including his family. This book clearly shows the reader that greed is wrong, and that wealth does not necessarily mean happiness.
Dickens also criticizes the abuse of power by the people with money. The institutions that were designed to help resolve differences were only abusing there power. These institutions came into the hands of people who were only interested in benefiting themselves and cared very little for the people around them. The most obvious example of this is in Bleak House. In this book, there has been a lawsuit going on for so long that it has become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means (Dickens p.19). In this book, Dickens shows his clear hatred for how the judicial system in England wastes the time of the people. In Bleak House, Dickens set out to strip away the hypocritical facades masking the abuse of authority in high places (Internet Site #3). Dickens called the group of powerful people that formed monopolies the System . Dickens said that we must not look to the individual, but we must look to the System because he blamed a lot of the corruption in society on them.
Dickens working in Warren s Shoeblacking factory had a crucial influence on his emphasis upon orphans and abandoned children, the self-pity that permeates many of his works, and their fairy-tale plots (Internet Site #4). This experience explains why there are many abused and helpless children in his books. Abused and helpless children can be seen in Great Expectations with Pip and in Bleak House with Esther and Jo. Pip and Esther were both abused by their aunt who raised them, but they both had happy endings. This shows Dickens repeated use of poor lives that end up with happy lives, and his use fairy tale endings. They do not live elegant lives either, so this also reinforces Dickens belief that people do not have to be wealthy to be happy. Jo was just a helpless, abandoned boy that the reader pities when he dies.
One aspect of society that Dickens actually supported was the working woman. This can be seen in his Great Expectations. Not only does Dickens portray Biddy as an able domestic caretaker, but she is also quite intelligent and at least as smart as Pip (Internet Site #5). Biddy serves as a model for Pip because she lives a successful life as a domestic caretaker and as a school mistress. The reader can see that Dickens approves of working women because at no point in the novel does Dickens disapprove of Biddy s lifestyle (Internet Site #5).
Dickens also criticizes his society on the issue of the death penalty. He was strongly opposed to this idea. He believed that taking a person s life did nothing to prevent crime (Internet Site #6). The most obvious incorporation of this belief into his books is in Great Expectations. In the beginning of the book, he shows the brutality of Magwitch, but he makes the reader recognize in the end that he is actually an honest and loving man. He attempts to prove that not all criminals are innately bad, but that frequently society makes them that way (Internet Site #6). Magwitch turns out to be a respectable man who proves his worthiness to society. If the society had given Magwitch the death penalty, he would not have been able to prove anything, and his life would have been made worthless because he was dead.
Some people because that Dickens criticisms were largely negative, which is true, but not everything was negative. He showed many negative aspects of society because he wanted people to know that the society that they lived in could be improved upon. Harriet Martineau says it very clearly with; It is scarcely conceivable that anyone should exert a stronger social influence than Mr. Dickens has in his power. His sympathies are on the side of the suffering and the frail; and this makes him the idol of those who suffer (Internet Site #3). Dickens was definitely a critical person who brought many evils in society to the attention of the people.