Charles Dicken\'s Novels: Literary Criticism


Something about Charles Dickens and his ability to take his reader to
unbelievable places with his imaginative powers allows him the honor of being
the most popular English novelist of the 19th century. Dickens has thrilled his
readers for many years with his down-to-earth stories about real people forced
into real situations. Charles Dickens has the ability to tell his stories from
personal experiences. He fine-tuned his ability to tell his own story through
the life of another character or cast of characters.

Born on the evening of February 7, 1812, Charles Dickens was the second child of
his parents, John and Elizabeth Dickens. His parents lived in Portsmouth, which
is located on England\'s southern coast. The family was in the lower division of
the middle class. Charles Dickens\' father, John, was a clerk at the Navy Pay
Office in Portsmouth. Dickens\'s mother was very affectionate and rather foolish
in practical matters. John was a vivacious and generous man, but often lived
outside the boundaries of his tight pocketbook. Later in life Dickens used his
father as the basis for his fictional character, Mr. Micawber and his mother as
Mrs. Nickleby in the Brothers Cheeryble (Constable 25).

In 1814 John Dickens was transferred from the post in Portsworth to one in
London. Three years later the family moved to Chatham to be closer to their
father who was working steadily at the post. Charles Dickens\'s mother taught
him to read when he was barely five and for the next few years Dickens lived
wonderfully, reading every book he could get his hands on. He quickly read
through his father\'s collection of Shakespeare, Cervantes, Defoe, Smollett,
Fielding, and Goldsmith. Every one of these authors left a mark on the young
mind of Charles Dickens which is easy to see in his style and attitude
throughout writings (Carey 6).

During this time Dickens started attending school where he excelled and pleased
his father greatly. Although he was a solitary child, Dickens was observant and
good natured and often participated in different comical routines for the class.
Looking back on this period of his life, Dickens thought of it as the golden age
(Carey 6). In the first novel that he wrote, The Pickwick Papers, Dickens tries
to bring back the good old times as he remembers them with their picturesque
nature. Gary Carey believes that this novel displays the happiness of innocence
and the playful spirit of the youth during the time of Dickens\'s youthful days
(7).

Overtaken by financial difficulties, the Dickens family was forced to move into
a shabby suburb of Camden Town. This move must have shown the family how good
they had it back in Chatham. There Dickens was removed from school and forced
to work degrading menial jobs in an effort to help his struggling father put
food on the table. Dickens was put to work in a blackening factory among many
rough and cruel employees, probably the worst job in town. Shortly after
Dickens started working in the factory his father was thrown into jail for
failure to pay his debts, only to be released three months later. This period
of time affected Dickens greatly as he went into a period of depression. He
felt abandoned and destroyed by this evil roller-coaster ride of life he was on.
From this time period come many of the major themes of his more popular novels.
Perhaps the most popular of these novels is David Copperfield. In this novel
Dickens depicts a young man who grows up in a very similar way to that of his
own (Allen 28).

Dickens\' sympathy for the victimized, his fascination with prisons and money,
the desire to vindicate his heroes\' status as gentlemen, and the idea of London
as an awesome, lively, and rather threatening environment all reflect the
experiences he had during his time on his own. On his own at the age of twelve,
Dickens learned many necessary life skills which also developed in him a driving
ambition and a boundless energy that transferred into every thing that he did
(28).

It would be a mistake to think of Charles Dickens as an uneducated man just
because he had little formal schooling. Dickens did what everyone should do,
learn from life. His entire writing career was a continuing process of
development and experimentation. Many of his themes keep repeating themselves
throughout his pieces and those themes most certainly stem from his early life.
From his early Pickwick Papers to his one of his last pieces The Mystery of
Edwin Drood Dickens never ceased to develop his writing abilities and skill,
establishing