Charles Dickens is the most representative novelist of the Victorian Age who may compare with Shakespeare in the creation of a fictitious world that for millions of readers has become real.
He profoundly influenced many of his contemporaries and successors, especially because he managed to show his consciousness of social injustice, the poverty and suffering of masses, political incompetence and corruption.
He was born in Portsmouth in 1812. When he was ten the family moved to London and there he was given regular schooling, but when his father was sent to prison for debt Charles was forced to go to work in a factory. At the age of fourteen he went to work as a clerk in a legal office.
He also wrote for comic newspapers and entered serious journalism, adopting the pen name of Boz and in 1836 he wrote two series of “Sketches by Boz”, short articles describing London people.
The PICKWICK PAPERS is his first novel relating the adventures of a group of eccentric people travelling on the England roads, where comic and picaresque elements are mixed. Between his most important novels there are David Copperfield and Great Expectations, which is on the theme of growing up (Bildungsroman). His life was cut short by a stroke in 1870.
Dickens’ novels present a variety of Settings: the countryside and merry old England, the provincial towns, the industrial settlements, but the most typical setting in Dickens is London.
Dickens’ Style mixed social criticism with lively portraits of universal characters, combining the pathetic with the comic. His ability to create dialogue is incomparable with any other English novelist.
The main strength of Dickens’ style is his humor.
In his novels he used a large variety of stylistic devices to emphasize the ideas: for example he uses an incredible number of adjectives; he repeats the same words and the same sentence structures; he piles up details; and he mixes comic and serious comments.
Dickens was a great entertainer who created lively unforgettable Characters, who are mainly from the lower and middle class, but they are too easily divided into good and bad.
As for the plots of his novels they involve many characters many parallel stories, intrigue, often mystery and incredible coincidences.