Charles Dickens was born in Portland in a large family. He had a happy childhood until, at the age of 5, his family went bankrupt and had to move to London because his father was imprisoned for debt. At the age of 8, he had to work in factories, until his father got an inheritance.
He first worked by a lawyer then began his career as a journalist. It was then that he started writing short pieces about London life and tales about the Parliament, titled "Sketches by Boz".
He then published "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club", a work set in pre-industrial England, starring mature men travelling through England, moving in cabs. His serialised novels lead him to a huge success from that moment on.
Charles Dickens's novels were appreciated for their variety of characters although they were mostly flat (except for his last work) and simply divided into good ones and villains, everyone had a defined personality, even London itself.
His style is redundant, descriptions are full of adjectives, and stories are rich of different characters and plots with funny and moving scenes. His novels always have a happy ending, even when it seemed basically impossible.
Dickens was known for his social commitment: he wanted to show every kind of social injustice while revealing every side of the hypocrisy of the Victorian society.
Indeed in most of his novels, there are children starring because children were exploited despite their weakness, and they move the reader. Apart from children exploitation, the main themes of his production are job exploitation, workhouses and inhuman social conditions.
As the condemns workhouses and slums, he can be compared to Emile Zola, although he is not revolutionary nor political, he just asks for general agreement, mercy, and charity, even if considered sometimes too sentimentalistic.
Le avventure di Oliver Twist - Born in a workhouse, the orphan Oliver (the perfect character for Dickens for being a child) has to face his conditions until he finds out he has middle-class origins. Oliver runs off to London, where he unknowingly joins a gang of thieves. He is arrested then rescued by a gentleman, recaptured by the thieves until he is finally adopted by the family who will help him discover his origins.
Dickens describes widely the negative effects of the Poor Laws by presenting the scenario of a poor London and accurately portraiting criminals, which will be criticised for celebrating them, although the author just intends to show that criminals are victims of an unfair social system and that good ones always get rewarded eventually.
The third person omniscient narrator uses dark humour to mock the contradictions of institutions and alternates detachment and sentimentalism, showing his moral position.
Nicholas Nickelby - Novel about the critic of the school system
David Copperfield - a Semi-autobiographical novel in which we follow the protagonist growing up, the only character who has an evolution throughout the story.
Great Expectations - Only novel among Dickens's works which ends ambiguously and lets the reader question and imagine what is going to happen next. It tells the story of Pip, an orphan who lives with his brother-in-law. It develops two subplots: the story of Miss Haversham and the relationship between Pip and his family.