Charles Dickens - Most important works
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was compelled to work in a blacking factory since he was young to help his family, after his father’s imprisonment for debt. He published his first work in 1836, “Sketches by Boz” (Boz was his penname). Then he published “The Pickwick Papers”, a comic and episodic novel, placed in the country still not spoilt by the industrial revolution. After this two works, all his books dealt with a negative aspect of the Victorian age society, but he didn’t want to change the social status; he just wanted to make upper-class people aware of the problems of the poor class. In fact, the main characters are often children, and the reality is described by their point of view. Moreover, there’s a large range of characters, some of them unforgettable for some peculiarity, but they’re always fixed in their role (good or bad), they don’t evolve. The setting in usually in industrial slums; the plots are complicated and sometimes not very wit, because the books were first published instalments and then collected into volumes. For the reason, the story is sometimes solved by a “deus ex machina”, which mixes up dramatic part with comic ones.
Dickens’ books were read by both lower and upper classes: lower classes identify with his characters and hope for a better future; upper classes saw, in his stories, that a poor man, working hard and honesty, could reach an higher social status, so they thought that poor people could improve their lives without their help.
Some of his most famous books are:
- Oliver Twist, the story of a foundling .
- The old curiosity shop: story on the ill treatment of children in industrial towns.
- Dombey and Son: a strong attack against the hypocrisy of the Victorian age and its greed for money.
- David Copperfield and Great Expectations are both Bildungsroman.
- Bleak house: story against the delays in the law.
- Hard times: a novel with a strong criticism of industrialization.
- Little Donit: story on a real and symbolic imprisonment.
- Our mutual friend: a criticism of the injustice of the Poor Laws.