Untitled Essay Research Paper Something about Charles

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

Something about Charles Dickens and his ability to take his reader to

unbelievable places with his imaginative powers allows him the honor of being

the most popular English novelist of the 19th century. Dickens has thrilled

his readers for many years with his down-to-earth stories about real people

forced into real situations. Charles Dickens has the ability to tell his

stories from personal experiences. He fine-tuned his ability to tell his

own story through the life of another character or cast of characters.

Born on the evening of February 7, 1812, Charles Dickens was the second child

of his parents, John and Elizabeth Dickens. His parents lived in Portsmouth,

which is located on England’s southern coast. The family was in the lower

division of the middle class. Charles Dickens’ father, John, was a clerk

at the Navy Pay Office in Portsmouth. Dickens’s mother was very affectionate

and rather foolish in practical matters. John was a vivacious and generous

man, but often lived outside the boundaries of his tight pocketbook. Later

in life Dickens used his father as the basis for his fictional character,

Mr. Micawber and his mother as Mrs. Nickleby in the Brothers Cheeryble (Constable


In 1814 John Dickens was transferred from the post in Portsworth to one in

London. Three years later the family moved to Chatham to be closer to their

father who was working steadily at the post. Charles Dickens’s mother taught

him to read when he was barely five and for the next few years Dickens lived

wonderfully, reading every book he could get his hands on. He quickly read

through his father’s collection of Shakespeare, Cervantes, Defoe, Smollett,

Fielding, and Goldsmith. Every one of these authors left a mark on the young

mind of Charles Dickens which is easy to see in his style and attitude throughout

writings (Carey 6).

During this time Dickens started attending school where he excelled and pleased

his father greatly. Although he was a solitary child, Dickens was observant

and good natured and often participated in different comical routines for

the class. Looking back on this period of his life, Dickens thought of it

as the golden age (Carey 6). In the first novel that he wrote, The Pickwick

Papers, Dickens tries to bring back the good old times as he remembers them

with their picturesque nature. Gary Carey believes that this novel displays

the happiness of innocence and the playful spirit of the youth during the

time of Dickens’s youthful days (7).

Overtaken by financial difficulties, the Dickens family was forced to move

into a shabby suburb of Camden Town. This move must have shown the family

how good they had it back in Chatham. There Dickens was removed from school

and forced to work degrading menial jobs in an effort to help his struggling

father put food on the table. Dickens was put to work in a blackening factory

among many rough and cruel employees, probably the worst job in town. Shortly

after Dickens started working in the factory his father was thrown into jail

for failure to pay his debts, only to be released three months later. This

period of time affected Dickens greatly as he went into a period of depression.

He felt abandoned and destroyed by this evil roller-coaster ride of life

he was on. From this time period come many of the major themes of his more

popular novels. Perhaps the most popular of these novels is David Copperfield.

In this novel Dickens depicts a young man who grows up in a very similar

way to that of his own (Al

len 28).

Dickens’ sympathy for the victimized, his fascination with prisons and money,

the desire to vindicate his heroes’ status as gentlemen, and the idea of

London as an awesome, lively, and rather threatening environment all reflect

the experiences he had during his time on his own. On his own at the age

of twelve, Dickens learned many necessary life skills which also developed

in him a driving ambition and a boundless energy that transferred into every

thing that he did (28).

It would be a mistake to think of Charles Dickens as an uneducated man just

because he had little formal schooling. Dickens did what everyone should

do, learn from life. His entire writing career was a continuing process of

development and experimentation. Many of his themes keep repeating themselves

throughout his pieces and those themes most certainly stem from his early

life. From his early Pickwick Papers to his one of his last pieces The Mystery

of Edwin Drood Dickens never ceased to develop his writing abilities and

skill, establishing himself as the major and primary Victorian novelist (Bloom


The journey from boyhood into manhood is a momentous one, and definitely

something that has a lasting effect on one’s person. Charles Dickens in his

novel David Copperfield describes the journey into manhood by telling a story

similar to his own life through the life of “David Copperfield.” There isn’t

one underlining theme in this novel there are many. The journey is one that

along with “David’s” is longing for what is lost in the past and the humiliation

he feels from being an orphan. Dickens has written an excellent novel describing

the troubles of growing up and the benefits of having a rough childhood.

Through the rough experiences that he had, Dickens was able to look back

on his early life and write world-famous stories about them. Calvin Brown

feel that these experiences also helped shape the man the Dickens became,

as do all experiences in life for everyone (Brown 144)

The structure of Dickens’s Copperfield has the freeness and the unity of

a wonderful journey. As the scene moves from place to place in the story

each move also represents a critical step in David’s spiritual journey to

manhood. Dickens uses the pattern of changing scenes to provide both variety

and contrast of mood. The atmosphere changes as the story moves along from

the Salem House to Blunderstone, giving the story diversity. Dickens constantly

shows how the life of David would have been much easier had he had a decent

father figure in his home while he was growing up.

David is constantly searching for what he has lost in the past. He recalls

the beautiful world of the Peggottys when he says, “It seems to me at this

hour that I have never seen such sunlight as on those bright April afternoons,

that I have never seen such a sunny little figure as I used to see, sitting

in the doorway of the old boat…”(Copperfield 7) This writing of Dickens

binds the reader to the story. David remembers the “olden” days and thinks

of them as the “golden” days (Allen 28).

As the beginning of the story describes, David Copperfield has many hard

childhood experiences, such as Dickens’s own humiliating days spent working

in the blackening factory in London. The despair and humiliation that he

suffered there and the rejection of his parents and the loss of all his hopes

of self-fulfillment are relived through David in this book. Dickens tells

his own story well through the life of David Copperfield. He isn’t looking

for the readers’ sympathy. He simply wants the reader to understand that

just because he had a rough life doesn’t mean it was a bad one.

A journey into adulthood, something that everyone must go through, although

it may be easier for some than others. Charles Dickens, in David Copperfield,

describes this journey as he makes the reader a vital part of David Copperfield’s

life. This journey is a theme in this novel as well as “David’s” longing

for what is lost in the past and the humiliation he feels from being an orphan.

Dickens has developed his character, David, into a hero much like he wanted

to be remembered as (Andreola 3). Many critics today think he achieved that


Charles Dickens also wrote many other books throughout his creative writing

career. In his book A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens causes the reader to ask

what the novel is really about, just what the driving theme is. Although

each reader will come up with a different answer to this question, most of

the answers fall into one of three categories.

Some readers will say that this novel is about the different personalities

of the many different and well-described characters throughout his novel.

The story portrays a French physician, Dr. Manette, who has been wrongly

put into prison in the Bastille for nearly eighteen years before the story

even begins (Constable 24). Because he witnessed the aftermath of a crime

that was committed by two other fellows, the doctor was thrown into prison.

The entire prison experience is something that he can never fully shake free

from. In moments of stress throughout the novel Dr. Manette often goes insane,

a result of his time in prison. The story also concerns a man by the name

of Jarvis Lorry, who, in the beginning of the book, is on his way to retrieve

the doctor from the prison (Constable 13).

Another group of readers will believe that this book is about the French

Revolution. Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities starts out in 1775 while the

Revolution was still in its underground preliminary stages. The book covers

eighteen years ending with one of the bloodiest battles, the Reign of Terror

in 1973. Although most of the major revolution events take place off stage

in the novel, they do have a major effect on the lives of the characters

in the story. It would certainly be no error to say the events of the French

Revolution, which make up so much of the setting in this novel, is what the

theme of the novel really is (Carey 11).

The third category of readers will say the novel’s theme is beyond the fictional

characters and historical events and is more of a symbol. These readers will

see that the actions relate to Dickens’s vision of life and the reason for

it. This group will say that the book presents a picture of human life using

the dramatic language of characters and their actions (Carey 12).

Anyway that a reader approaches A Tale of Two Cities, it is a hard book to

read although it does become interesting at times and in the end brings the

reader into an understanding of personal life trials during the time of the

French Revolution. Whether the reader believes that the novel is about its

characters, historical events or symbolism, it doesn’t matter. Charles Dickens

wanted the readers of enjoy this novel not fight over what the meaning behind

it is (Carey 12).

Sadly, many of the greatest books that have strengthened and shaped Western

civilization are drifting out of modern life and thought. But it doesn’t

have to be this way. Someone must responsibly keep the literary lights such

as Charles Dickens burning brightly for the benefit of younger generations.

(Andreola 2)

It is time to rescue Dickens from the attic and let him stir the hearts of

people today. Dickens can challenge, motivate, and entertain in ways the

Hardy Boys never could. Dickens became famous writing stories that highlighted

the difference between right and wrong in his own time. His stories invite

readers to form an opinion and make decisions about a character’s right or

wrong actions.

As only an artist could. Dickens paints a moral picture of life. To paint

the moral for children is more effective than to “point” it. Here lays the

help the younger generation of today needs to develop a “moral


When reading episodes from Dickens’s stories it is easy to get to know his

characters more intimately than neighbors. The experience of life along with

his characters is something that the readers feel. Feelings arouse for them

as the characters struggle in difficult situations (Andreola 2).

In Terry W. Glaspey’s Great Books of the Christian Tradition, he says, “Dickens

could sometimes be faulted for being overlong and sentimental, but his novels

seem to lodge in the memory long after they are read. His ability to create

a multitude of memorable characters gave us the adjective ‘Dickensian.’ His

staunch Victorian morality is a pleasant contrast to our modern sense of

moral drift.” And what wonderful characters they are! His heroes are people

of everyday life who supply readers with a vision of goodness (Andreola 3)

Clearly without the writing of Charles Dickens the literary world of today

would be suffering a great loss. Dickens thought his many years of life

experiences was able to use his talents as a writer to express to the everyday

reader what the true meaning of life is. Charles Dickens did for the literary

world what stories like that of small town basketball sensation, Larry Bird,

did for small town athletes around the United States. Dickens helped readers

understand themselves, those who are the common folk. Middle to lower class.


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