Charles Dickens di Elisa Armellino


Social injustice is the main theme [E2] [I1] [S1] of Dickens’ works [I2] [I3] [I4]. He was the first novelist to describe the ‘dark side’ of Victorian time and literature.

His characters are not real rebels and, yet, their stir the consciences of readers, since the author portrays their conditions of poverty and despair.

The cruel life of poor children [E2] [E3] [I1] [E4] in workhouses and orphanages is described in both Oliver Twist (1837-1838) and Nicholas Nickleby (1852-1853). The injustices and delays in the justice system are exposed in Hard Times (1854), wheras the evils of industrialization and the materialism of the utilitarian doctrines of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham are the main targets in Hard Times. The novel condemns the exploitation of workers by greedy industrialism.

The urban poor who lives in London [E2] [E3] [I1] is, instead, the fundamental figure in the semi-autobiographical novel David Copperfield. He also denounces the eploitiation children and of their bad working conditions.

At the end of the stories, however, there is always the triumph of good over evil.

Humour is also a fundamental ingredient of Charles Dickens’ works. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers (1863-1837) is considered one of the best comic novels in English. Some of his popular caricatural characters are Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist, Mr. Bounderby in Hard Times and Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield.

Dickens's novels are often labelled as sentimental and pedantic by today’s readers because of the many sensational and melodramatic devices he employes in his works.

This is why – despite revealing some of the most negative aspects and hypocrisies of the [Victorian period], he is sometimes felt as old-fashioned and too faithful to the conventions of his time. However, he is indisputably a writer of genius and, as such, he is considered by many as the greatest English novelist.

His stories and plots are complex and often based on main character’s development and personal growth. Characters’ interaction is always lively and settings – in tune with the story-line – are always very detailed.

The narrator is normally omniscent and addresses the reader in a direct way. This offers a sense of a shared world between them.

The language is highly figurative, words and syntactical structures are often repeated and there is a flair for dialogue.



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