What if your works secretly disguised painful memories of your childhood? That is what the works of Charles Dickens was like. Now the question is who is Charles Dickens and what were his works. Charles Dickens was born in Landport, a suburb of Portsea, on February 7, 1812. Charles’s parents, John and Elizabeth Dickens, treated his arrival with joy. Charles was their first child of eight siblings. Charles was a bright and active child. The beginning of his childhood was good but soon headed down hill. John Dickens, Charles’s father, was not good with handling the family’s money.
John Dickens was imprisoned for debt on February 20, 1824. This experience left Charles psychologically scarred. Charles had to take the role of being “the man of the house” and had to start working at about the age of twelve. Charles Dickens attended school for a short while but worked the majority of his life. Dickens’s mother, Elizabeth, taught him how to read. Before John Dickens was taken to jail Charles attended a school with his sister Fanny. Charles had to quit school and go to work because of the 1824 incident. Charles started working at Robert Warren’s blacking factory.
Dickens worked a series of other jobs like an office boy at an attorney’s office. Charles Dickens’s career as an author took off after he had worked several other jobs to help him gain experience. Dickens became a very successful shorthand reporter of Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons. Shortly after, Charles began to work as a reporter for a newspaper. Charles’s first published story appeared in 1833. A number of other stories followed. Three years later Dickens was hired to write short texts to accompany a series of illustrations by Robert Seymour.
Charles Dickens’s childhood ended up being a huge influence on him and his later works. Some of Dickens’s important later works were David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and Pickwick Papers. Pickwick Papers was loved by many. In Charles Haines Charles Dickens Skelly 2 published in 1969, he states that if Dickens had written nothing at all after Pickwick, his name would even so have been with the immortals (28). Even though Dickens’s work was appreciated then and is popular now, he never received any awards for his works mainly because of the time period in which he lived.
Charles Dickens was badly shaken up in a railway accident in 1865. As time progressed Dickens’s health worsened. Charles Dickens’s life came to an end with a stroke on June 8 and actually passing away on June 9, 1870. Charles Dickens’s life relates to the novel, Oliver Twist, because he used his knowledge of London’s good humor shadow to help him write the book. Dickens’s work when looked at through the eyes of critics is said to be autobiographical and also said to be poor work.
Critic Stanley Tick sees Dickens’s work as being used as an autobiography and confession to his childhood and past. In Stanley Tick’s article Oliver Twist: A Stronger Hand Than Chance published in Summer 1981, he states “If his recollections of childhood account for the series of child-heroes, surrogate parents, and contrasted family relationships, then, as I see it, adult shame and guilt fuse to compel the recurring theme of concession–a theme already remarkably present in the early Oliver Twist, as I hope to show” (228).
Also in Oliver Twist: A Stronger Hand Than Chance published in Summer 1981 by Stanley Tick, Tick states “In a more specific sense, Oliver is Dickens revivified, the victim (as Dickens, the child felt) of appalling adult neglect, and powerless to rectify the frightening and degrading situation” (232). Critic Roland F. Anderson thinks Dickens’s plot and structure is poor and annoying. In Roland F. Anderson’s Structure, Myth, and Rite in Oliver Twist published in Fall 1986, he states “Critics, early and late, of Dickens’s Oliver Twist, in whatever else they differ, agree that the plot
Skelly 3 of the novel, with the consequent structure, is a poor thing” (238). Roland F. Anderson, in his article Structure, Myth, and Rite in Oliver Twist published in Fall 1986, also stated “The shape of Oliver Twist, involving the awkwardness of its plot, is suggestive, as well as being annoying to most critics” (239) The overall themes of Charles Dickens’s work are basically confessions of his past. In Stanley Tick’s article Oliver Twist: A Stronger Hand Than Chance published in Summer 1981, he states “… adult shame and guilt fuse to compel the recurring theme of confession… 228).
Stanley Tick also mentions in his article Oliver Twist: A Stronger Hand Than Chance published in Summer 1981 that “The need Dickens must have had for such confession can be best judged, I believe, from the novels themselves” (229). Dickens’s themes therefore were his way of expressing his past. In Eleanor H. Ayers book The Importance of Charles Dickens published in 1998, states “His work involved the creation of nearly two thousand characters… ” (75). Most of Dickens’s main characters can relate to each other because they are usually honest, innocent, and good hearted people.
Dickens’s brought out the rich personalities of the poor. For example in Great Expectations the character Pip is a sweet and honest boy. He does not have much in money but his personality holds much. Another example of his use of characters is in Oliver Twist. Oliver is an orphan which has basically nothing but yet like the character Pip has a good and honest personality. Setting is important to Charles Dickens because he usually sets his novels in the old slums of London. Some of that London setting relates to his life. Charles’s novel Oliver Twist is a good example of this.
In author May Lamberton Becker’s book Introducing Charles Dickens Skelly 4 published in 1940, she mentions “… Oliver Twist’s London had been seen by a slender boy of Oliver’s own age, that neglected child none of these people knew about, wandering hungry among the fetid alleys around Warren’s blacking factory” (126). May Lamberton Becker also mentions in her book Introducing Charles Dickens published in 1940 that “He had seen Oliver Twist’s London as a young reporter on police-escorted rounds of slums, thieves’ kitchens and night-shelters… 126).
Dickens’s past experiences helped him make the settings of his novels more realistic for his readers. Dialogue is an important literary element to Charles Dickens because he uses it to help produce his characters. Researchers and readers can tell a lot about a character by the he/she speaks. In Michal Peled Ginsburg article Truth and Persuasion: The Language of Realism and of Ideology in Oliver Twist published in Spring 1987 he states “Oliver’s speech becomes “pure” speech and has to be understood as a metaphor for the pure soul” (221).
In the article Truth and Persuasion: The Language of Realism and of Ideology in Oliver Twist published in Spring 1987 by Michal Peled Ginsburg, he also states “Noah Claypole speaks substandard English rather than slang but this has the same function: when he calls Oliver “workus” we are aware not only of his lack of schooling and his social class but also of his viciousness” (224). Charles Dickens use of dialogue is an important part of his novels and to the understanding of the reader.
The novel Oliver Twist written by Charles Dickens tells about a boy who is an orphan struggling to escape from an environment of crime and other hardships. Olive begins his obstacles at an English workhouse and soon later falls into the hands of miscreants who train him to be a pickpocket. Oliver is forced to commit a crime but it does not go as planned and he is badly hurt. The poor boy comes across some kind people who take him into their home full of love and Skelly 5 warmth. Oliver’s life begins to shape up and he finds much more happiness in the end.
His true identity comes forward. In the novel Oliver Twist there are several major characters. In Eleanor H. Ayer’s book The Importance of Charles Dickens published in 1998, she states “… Oliver was a simple person, without complex goals who sought an honest life with caring people” (32). Oliver Twist is the main character because everything that is occurring is based on his existence. Another important character is the evil leader of the pickpockets, Fagin. Nancy and Sikes, other major characters, were some of Fagin’s assistants.
In the book Dickens A Life written by Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie published in 1979, it states “… Dickens saw Fagin as a devil… Nancy as a fallen angel, and Sikes as a monster… ” (56). Rose Maylie is another important character because she shows Oliver care and love, something he is unfamiliar with. Mr. Brownlow is another major character because he is Oliver’s savior. The theme of Oliver Twist, as believed to be by the critics and myself, is the anguish of a neglected childhood. Charles’s horrible childhood is expressed in his work.
When he was growing up he felt neglected and the torture as young Oliver does. Some critics think his themes are confessions. I am able to end my paper with satisfaction of supporting my thesis. Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist is related to his childhood and his knowledge of London’s good humor shadow which I have proved with evidence from critics who have studied and researched Dickens and his work. I have reached the conclusion that Charles Dickens’s childhood was an unpleasant experience for him, but as he aged and became a novelist, the experience helped him form his work.
Dickens is an influence on many authors. I believe some of the authors that are influeced Skelly 6 by Charles Dickens are influenced because of his writing style. Also his strength of expressing such a personal secret to millions in his writings. It was a difficult thing to do for him. In Eleanor H. Ayer’s book The Importance of Charles Dickens published in 1998, she states that Charles Dickens was “… one of the most beloved and most important authors of all time” (79).