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Charles Dickens

Term Definition
Charles Dickens

The novels written by Dickens were primarily published in serial magazine format, with a chapter of the works being published at regular intervals. Dickens is known for having created some of the most memorable and widely known characters in English literature. This includes, for example, Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Dickens experienced great success during his own lifetime, with people applauding his skill in social observation. 

Background on Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was a writer and social critic from England (similarly to Oscar Wilde). He is responsible for some of the most easily recognized fictional characters in literature and is widely regarded as the best novelist of the Victorian era. He was unprecedentedly popular during his lifetime and he was recognized as a literary genius. His work continues to be very popular, even in modern time. 

Dickens was born in Portsmouth where he left school to work in a factory and support a family when his father was put into debtors’ prison. Though he received no formal education, he was successful as an editor of a weekly journal for over twenty years. In addition, he wrote five novellas, fifteen novels, and hundreds of non-fiction articles and short stories. 

Writings by Charles Dickens

Three of Charles Dickens’s most famous novels are Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. Oliver Twist was his second novel. Originally, it was published in monthly installments between 1837 and 1839. His struggles with poverty during his childhood greatly influenced this book. A Tale of Two Cities was Dickens’s twelfth novel. The first chapters of the book were printed in April of 1859 and the last was printed in November of that year. Charles Dickens’s next novel, Great Expectations, was also published in installments. They began to be published in December 1860 and the book was finished in August of 1861. The book is said to have had a much more somber original ending, but Dickens was convinced by a friend to make the ending a happier one. 

Author's writing style

Charles Dickens favored the style of eighteen century picaresque novels that his father loved. The fables told in The Arabian Nights is said to have had the most influence on his writing style. Dickens’s writing is linguistically creative. He is known for his regular use of satire, which he employed in order to make his sharp social commentary. He often used class idiom to mirror the resolutions of contemporary theater. Dickens made a point to develop names and motifs that would resonate with his readers and be easily remembered. He regularly employs elements of fantasy and realism and is known for his flights of fancy.

Charles Dickens' personality and beliefs

Though he did not support many aspects of organized religion, his son described him as a man who possessed deep religious convictions. Officially, he identified as Anglican. While he honored Christ as an important figure in Christianity, he denied Jesus’s divinity and maintained that he was just a regular man who was a prophet. One of Dickens’s non-fiction works was titled The Life of Our Lord, published in 1849. It was a short book written about the life of Jesus Christ. Dickens wrote this book as a means of explaining and communicating his faith to his family and his children. He disapproved of Roman Catholicism and contemporary evangelicalism. He saw what he called the hypocrisy of religious institutions and their philosophies like spiritualism. Dickens considered these things to be deviations from the true Christian spirit. 

Perhaps inspired by his Christian belief system, Angela Burdett Coutts, the heiress of the Coutts banking fortune, asked Dickens in 1846 is he was interested in helping her set up a home for the improvement of fallen women of the working class. The home would provide women with a place to stay in exchange for chores and an opportunity to receive some education. After some resistance, Dickens built the home and managed it for ten years. Between the years of 1847 and 1859, approximately one hundred women graduated from the home.

Like many other writers, Charles Dickens was an incredibly talented and prolific writer who genius and influence was appreciated both during his life and after his death. His sharp tongue and wit made him a popular writer during his time and will ensure that he stays cemented in this prestigious place in history for years to come.

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