Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812. He had a sad childhood since he had to work in a factory and his father was imprisoned.
He realized he had talent for writing so he learnt shorthand and became a journalist.
He used a pen name, Boz. He wrote in fact Sketches by Boz, a collection of articles describing Londn.
He became a novelist and his most important works are Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Little Dorrit that were autobiographical, they all described his own childhood. He writes in fact about the exploitation of children in factories. Other novels are Bleak House, Hard Times and Great Expectations.
These novels underline the bad living and working condition of people. He died in 1870 and was buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Dickens was a storyteller; in fact, he takes inspiration from the Bible or fairy tales.
His plots are well planned.
He publishes in instalments so he had to conform his plots to the public taste.
He was not a revolutionary thinker, he did not want to change society, he just criticizes it.
He succeeded in making people aware of the evils of society.
He was a humanitarian; he was on the side of the poor. In fact, he says that it is useless to change institutions without a change of the heart. He wanted then a change of the spirit more than a change of the structures.
He was a liberalist and he got inspired by the American and French revolutions that were based on the ideals of freedom, equality and brotherhood, in one word: democracy. He says that England had lost equality and brotherhood.
In Hard Times, he championed equality.
A typical idea was benevolence whose main symptoms are: generosity; kindness; a feeling for suffering caused by poverty sickness and cruelty; indignation against abuses and benign temper.
Money is the key word in Dickens’ novels. He says that money is an instrument of imprisonment and cruelty, but men are obsessed by money’s power.
He also criticizes charitable institutions and was against the distinctions of deserving and undeserving. He was against the Chartism.
Dickens created caricatures, so he exaggerated and ridiculed the characters of all social classes using their own voices.
He wanted to teach people their real living conditions and wanted to make reach people aware of the bad living and working conditions of the poor. Children have an important role in Dickens’ works since they become moral teachers and examples for adults.
Style and Structure
He uses the most appropriate language to describe people’s lives. He carefully chooses the adjectives, repetitions of words and structure, juxtapositions of images.