When he was 12 his father was imprisoned for debt and he had to work in a factory.
He was a Parliamentary reporter and then a journalist.
After the publication of his first novel, Pickwick Papers, he became a famous novelist.
They are always centered on social issues.
They were always published in instalments.
Dickens’ novels are often very melodramatic, sentimental and sensationalist. As they were published in serial form, plots often lack balance and their structure is episodic, but they always involve the reader and hold his attention. There are many climaxes and often a final revelation in the form of a flashback.
They are often flat, especially in his first novels.
Dickens was particularly good at creating caricatures, so satirizing the social characteristics of high, middle and low classes.
Third person omniscent, obtrusive.
The town, often London, realistically described. Dickens is famous for his descriptions, which often highlight the material and spiritual poverty of the industrial world.
Victorian England, the world contemporary to the author.
Dickens denounces the evils of Victorian society: exploitation of children, crime, corruption of the institutions
Against these evils, he asserts the values of honesty, generosity, disinterested love, the duties of parents and children, which means his solutions are moral and not political.
From this point of view he may be said to embody the Victorian compromise.
Structure and style
The use of irony is typical when he wants to denounce the evils of society.
A great variety of adjectives and careful repetitions of the same sentences are used to make descriptions vivid.
Oliver was born in a workhouse, and immediately afterwards his mother died. He is sent to work at an undertaker’s, but escapes. In London he meets a group of boys, actually a gang of thieves led by Fagin. He is forced to pickpocket, but a gentleman, Mr. Brownslow, takes him to his house. Oliver is kidnapped by Fagin, helped by two other criminals, Sikes and Monk. He is forced to commit a burglary, shot and wounded. Mrs. Mylie takes care of him. Nancy, Sikes’ girlfriend, reveals the gang’s plans to kidnap him again. Nancy is killed by Sikes, who dies trying to escape from the police; Monk and Fagin are arrested. Oliver is found out to be Mrs. Mylie’s nephew, heir of a fortune Monk, actually his half-brother, wanted to have all for himself.
The final revelation of Oliver’s true identity is obviously a flashback.
Oliver is the example of the good child set as a model for the adult public.
Third person obtrusive when he comments on some characters’ behaviour (for example the managers of the workhouse).
Time and setting
19° century London.
The slums where the gang lives and the middle class houses of Mr. Brownslow and Mrs. Mylie.
Exploitation of children, in the workhouses and in the world of crime.
Good always triumphs over evil: Oliver at the end is rewarded, having always been good and honest.