Life and Work - Charles Dickens - Great Expectations versus Oliver Twist, Struggling Towards Understanding and Awareness referat

Life and Work


Charles Dickens, Charles John Huffam Dickens was born February 7, 1812, in Ports Mouth, Hampshire. In his infancy his family moved to Chatham, where he spent his happiest years and often refers to this time in his novels (1817-1822). From 1822 to 1860 he lived in London, after which he permanently moved to a quiet country cottage in Glads Hill, on the outskirts of Chatham. He grew up in a middle class family.

His father was a clerk in the navy pay office and was well paid, but his extravagant living style often brought the family to financial disaster. The family reached financial "rock bottom" in 1824. Charles was taken out of school and sent to work in a factory doing manual labour, while his father went to prison for his debt. These internal disasters shocked Charles greatly. He refers to his working experiences in his writings. Although he hated doing labour, he gained a sympathetic knowledge into the life of the labour class. He also brings forth the images of prison and of the lost and oppressed child in many novels.

His schooling ended at 15, and he became a clerk in a solicitor's office, then a short hand reporter in the lawcourts (where he gained much knowledge of legalities which he used in his novels), and finally like other members of his family, a newspaper reporter. Here, he got his first taste of journalism and fell in love with it immediately. Drawn to the theatre, Charles Dickens almost pursued the career of an actor. In 1833, he began sending short stories and descriptive essays to small magazines and newspapers. These writings attracted attention and were published in 1836 under the name, Sketches by "Boz". At the same time, he was offered a small job of writing the text for a small comic strip, where he worked with a well know artist. 44857ugn11dbq9o

Seven weeks later, the first instalment of The Pickwick Papers appeared. Within a few months Pickwick was the rage and Dickens was the most popular author of the day. During 1836, he also wrote two plays and a pamphlet, he then resigned from his newspaper job, and undertook the editing job of a monthly magazine, Bentley's Miscellany, in which he serialized Oliver Twist (1837-1839). By this time, the first of his nine surviving children had been born. He had married Catherine, eldest daughter of a respected journalist George Hogorth (April 1836).


His first major success was with The Pickwick Papers. They were high spirited and contained many conventional comic butts and jokes. Pickwick displayed, many of the features that were to be blended in to his future fiction works; attacks on social evils and the delight in the joys of Christmas. Rapidly thought up and written in mere weeks or even days before its publication date, Pickwick contained weak style and was unsatisfactory in all, partly because Dickens was rapidly developing his craft as a novelist while doing it. This style of writing in a first novel, made his name know literally overnight, but created a new tradition of literature and was made one of the best know novel's of the world.

After The Pickwick Papers were published in 1837, he put together another novel, Oliver Twist. Though his artistic talent is very much evident, he refrained from using the successful formula used in The Pickwick Papers. Instead, Oliver Twist is more concerned with social and more evil, though it did still contain much comedy. The long last of his fiction is partly due to its being so easy to adapt into effective stage plays. Sometimes 20 London theatres simultaneously were producing adaptations of his latest story; so even non- readers became acquainted with simplified versions of his works. gb857u4411dbbq

In the novel Barnaby Grudge he attempted another type of writing, a historical novel. It was set in the late 18th century and graphically explored the spectacle of large scale mob violence. The task of keeping unity throughout his novels (which often included a wide range of moods and materials and several complicated plots involving scores of characters) was made even more difficult because he was forced to write and publish them, while also doing on going serials.

His next major work, and probably his most famous was published in 1843, and was called A Christmas Carol. Suddenly conceived and written in mere weeks, while he was preoccupied in writing another serial, it was an unmatched achievement. His view of life was described as "Christmas Philosophy," and he spoke of "Carol philosophy" as the basis of his work. He was extremely attached to the christmas season, and this contributed to his great success and popularity. A Christmas Carol immediately entered the general public and awareness, and Thackeray (another author), in a review, called it a "national benefit, and to every man and woman who reads it a personal kindness...". He wrote many other christmas plays and novels thereafter, but none equalled the Carol in energy. These series of books, were known as the Christmas Books, and cumulatively they represent a celebration of Christmas attempted by no other great author.

His activity outside his novels at this time in his literary life was extremely active and centrally involved. He was said to be the best after dinner speaker of the age, also, he was credited with being the best reporter on the London press and the best amateur actor on the stage.

As for his private life, he loved his family and was a proud householder; he once even wrote a cookbook. To his children he was a great father, until their adolescence, where their lives proved less happy. Besides periods in Italy (1844-1845), Switzerland and France (1846-1847) he lived in London, and moved from house to larger house as his family grew. He became acquainted with may popular authors and journalists and entertained them regularly at his home. Though financially well off, he generally avoided high society, he hated to be idolized or patronized. He was extremely proud of his work, and strived on improving it with every new venture, yet his work, never employed all of his energies.

He became the founder (editor) in 1846 of the Daily News, (soon to become the leading liberal newspaper). His journalistic backgrounds, his political knowledge and readiness to act as a leader, and his wish to secure a steady income independent of his literary creativity made him plan several ventures in the 1840's. This return to journalism soon proved a great mistake, the biggest fiasco in a career that included nearly no misdirections or failures. He then moved onto a more limited but happier exercise of his talents, for more than a decade he directed a reformatory home for young female delinquents, which was financed by a wealthy friend Angela Burrdett-Coutts. He also used compassionate speaking abilities often in public speeches, fund-raising activities and private acts of charity.

His next novel, was called Dombey and Son, written between the years 1846- 1848, it was crucial to his development. It was more thoroughly planned, and used maturer thought and deals with more specific social injustice. Shortly after the release of Dombey and Son, he wrote David Copperfield (1849-1850). It has been described as a "holiday" from the larger social concerns. This novel has always been among his most popular novels and was Dickens's own favourite. Charles Dickens finally found a permanent form for his writing in 1850, with the novel Household Words, and its successor All the Year Round (1859-1888). These novels incorporated a combination of weekly miscellaneous fiction works, poetry, and essays on a wide range of topics. These two works had circulations reaching 300, 000 for some Christmas seasons. During this period Dickens contributed some serials, for example Child's History of England (1851-1853), Hard Times (1854), A Tale of two cities (1859), and Great Expectations (1860- 1861). No English author has devoted 20 years of his/her mature life to such editorial work. Novels During these years he wrote many more novels. The first of which was called Bleak House (1852-1853), then Hard Times (1854), and Little Dorrit (1855- 1857). These novels were much more dark then his earlier novels. Portraying a sad and dark view on contemporary society. In the novels of the 1850's, he is politically more depressed, emotionally more tragic. The sadness is harsher, and the humour is less gentle, and the happy endings are more relaxed than his early fiction.

Technically the later novels are more logical, the plots are more related to the themes, and the themes express more grim symbols. The characterization has become more in line with general purpose and design. In general the characters are becoming more complex, even the children who were before loosely thrown together are now complicated in their makeup. Dickens becomes more enthraled with the general purpose of life, and poses questions to this in his works, and attempt to explore the prospects of humanity, questions that are still being asked today and being debated by society. During the 1850's his spirits fell. 1855 was "a year of much unsettled discontent for him", . He began to cease to find satisfaction in his home, and he showed his first sign's of marital discontent. From May 1858, his wife, Catherine Dickens lived apart from him. This separation jarred his friendships and began to shrink his social circle, yet to his surprise, it didn't effect his social popularity. Catherine Dickens stayed silent and most of Dickens family and friends were unwilling to talk about it. He dated the unhappiness of his marriage to 1838, calling his wife "perculliar", and sometimes "under a mental disorder". No one talked about the separation until 1939, when his daughter, Katey speaking to a friend (who was recording the conversation) offered an inside account of the true marriage and family life during that time. By the end of the 1850's Charles Dickens was tired and growing more and more ill, yet he maintained inventive in his final novels.  

A Tale of Two Cities (1859) was an experiment, relying less than before on characterization, dialogue, and humour. An exciting narrative, it lacks too many of his strengths to count among his major works.

His next, Great Expectations, (1860-1861) resembles David Copperfield , by it being a first person narration, it draws on Dickens personality and experience. He continued to write novels, though none of them was truly up to par with his early novels, they were still given rave reviews.

In 1864-65, he wrote Our Mutual Friend, and Edwin Druid in 1870. His humorous handling is sometimes tiresome, and has grown mechanical. Between the years 1867- 1868 many of his co-writers noticed his immense personality change and it appears in friends remarks who met him again after many years during an international reading tour. ("I must have known two individuals bearing the same name, at various periods of my own life."). But his fiction, besides his personal developments still had the many stylistic features as in his earlier works so he remained the "human hurricane." Even though he was old, and his health was deteriorating, his close friends saw him as a hearty man, with a good deal of fun in him ", but that very day (on a train ride in 1865), Dickens wrote, that "I am nearly used up,". After he had completed his reading tour, his health remained precarious, but he insisted on continuing to do readings. His farewell reading tour was abandoned when, in April 1869, he collapsed. He began writing another novel in the London Hospital, and gave a short farewell sessions of readings in London, ending with thee famous speech, "From these garish lights I vanish now for evermore...".

Charles Dickens died suddenly at Gad's Hill on June 9, 1870, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. People all over the world mourned the loss of "a friend" as well as a great entertainer and creative artist, and one of the acknowledged influences upon the spirit of the age. Charles Dickens is regarded as the greatest English novelist. He had a wider popularity than any other author before him or during his life time. His works appealed to everyone, a peasant, or the Queen of England. This, and the quality of his work enabled his fame to spread world wide. His popularity has never ceased, and he is as popular today, as he ever was. His compassion and intelligence enriched his novels and made him one of the great forces in 19th century literature, an influential conscience of his age.

Great Expectations versus Oliver Twist


Thematical Lives of Dickens' Characters Charles Dickens' literary works are comparable to one another in many ways; plot, setting, and even experiences. His novels remain captivating to his audiences and he draws them in to teach the readers lessons of life. Although each work exists separate from all of the rest, many similarities remain. Throughout the novels, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, the process of growing up, described by the author, includes the themes of the character's ability to alienate themselves, charity given to the characters and what the money does to their lives, and the differences of good and evil individuals and the effects of their influences. Collectively, these major novels overflow with orphans, adoptive parents, guardians, and failed parent-child relationships.

Oliver, the main character in Oliver Twist, must forget about his "infantile past" (Marcus 182) in order to seek "the idyllic future" (Marcus 182). He gets hurled from orphanages to foster parents and so on until he finds himself a portion of the "wrong crowd." The pickpockets take him under their authority and attempt to show him the ropes of the embezzling operation. The orphan Carter 2 adapts well to the swindling lifestyle of Fagin and the boys, and through a series of mischievous choices, authorities apprehend him for stealing (although Dodger was the true felon), and Oliver must live with the consequences.

Great Expectations also emphasizes the process of growing up through Pip, the main character. Pip's mother and father passed away while he was young, and he was forced to reside in the house of his older sister and her husband. The boy obtains many idealistic fathers, including Joe, Magwitch, Jaggers and Pumblechook, but none of these men can give him what he needs from a predecessor. Dickens demonstrates to the reader the consequences that bad parenting has on children. Some children are warped by the "knottiest roots" (Lucas 141). Pip, Estella, and Magwitch are all examples of hurt children. The bitter children dwell on their past, or "what has been forgotten" (Marcus 182), and blame the parents for their sufferings. Other children such as Joe and Herbert survive bad parents and go on with their lives, not letting the history affect the outlook. Personalities in the novels became cut off physically or spiritually from human companionship.

Oliver suffers from a sense of estrangement. He fears being abandoned by foster parents and friends, even though the relationships are not healthy for him. Consider his relationship with Dodger. The orphan was told to "take Dodgers advice and do what he does" (Oliver 138) by Fagin in order to succeed. Oliver knew that his new Carter 3 friends were bad influences on him, but yet he remained with the clique to keep from feeling a hint of isolation.

In Great Expectations, Ms. Havisham, resembling Pip, Estella, and Jaggers, acquires a sense of mutilation from her locked up feelings. In her past, she was abandoned by her fiancé at the altar on her wedding day. Ironically, the old woman, so terrified of the idea of being alone, alienates herself from most human contact. After the horror of her love's departure, she does not allow anything in the house to change. Wedding cake still sits on tables, clocks unexpectedly stopped at the exact time that she was deserted, and she lives in the past and denies the future. Desperately, she withers away "corpse-like" (Great 54) in solitude. Largely through Joe, Warwick, Herbert, Wemmick and Wopsle, Pip learns to form bonds of love. Bound to Estella through his affection for her, he does not realize her teasing games. She does not seem to display the same feelings towards him, but he believes that he will win her emotions. This relationship matures into the destruction of Pip, but his fear of existing in seclusion keeps his helpless, constant infatuation burning. This "twist of fate finds Pip sadly and searchingly wanting" (Sucksmith 186).

Dickens suggests that charity, like love, will earn integrity only if honest. Indicated in Oliver Twist, is the impression that true concern for people dwells in individuals, not in institutions. From the beginning, in the orphanage, Oliver was the Carter 4 object of people's benevolence. He obtained food, clothing, and shelter, but lived in horrible conditions and his guardians treated him as though he was not deserving. In one case, at a workhouse, the operator of the institute was given government money to tend to the children but "however she kept most of the money for herself" (Oliver 10). When Oliver encountered the pickpockets, he felt as though he belonged, but Dodger and his group helped Oliver only when they believed they could profit from the innocence of the boy. These associations showed no real compassion for Oliver as a human, but thought of him as a way of benefitting themselves instead. The orphan finds true kindness in charity when he encounters the generosity of Brownlow and Mrs. Maylie. They offer love and forgiveness for past mistakes along with meeting Oliver's basic needs.

In Great Expectations, money has tricky value. Coin is not bad in itself, since it helps Herbert and prevents Pip from getting placed into debtors' prison. From the beginning, Pip received endowments from which he thought were gifts to him from Ms. Havisham, but in the end he found it was from the convict he encountered while playing in his parent's graveyard as a child. He had provided the felon with extra food and in turn, he was given money and a good life. Coin eventually became dangerous to Pip. He evolved into prey for greedy individuals, and those that would "marry for wealth" (Great 392). He also began to lose his moral bearings. If he did not love money in itself, he adored the power that it Carter 5 brought him in life.

Several of Dickens' publications, like most excellent literature, depict the struggle between opposing forces of good and evil. The living conditions of the characters determine what will become of them in their future. Those who are deprived of good influences as a child are doomed to lead bad lives, and suffer, while those who grow up in good environments, full of love and security, will flourish in adulthood. Oliver, for example, gets rescued in time from the wickedness of bad influences. He lands in the hands of "righteousness before death" (Lucas 253). Nancy, however, must pay the price for sin; she can not escape demise. Dickens illustrates the results of poverty, especially hunger, which has the ability to turn humans into malicious animals. The author may also continue to argue in his books that criminals are made, not born. Great Expectations portrays kindness and immorality as inseparably intermingled. Pip and his childish and strict moral views, partitions life into absolutes: Estella is good, Magwitch is bad; Jagger's world is evil while Herbert's is good. Later in life, Pip sees that he must accept that all life is interwoven together, and that he must search for good in people as well as seeing their corrupt behavior and "self-deception" (Sucksmith 186). Celebrated writers all tend to use a specific style to their literature. Some use the same setting, other use similar ideas. Charles Dickens illustrates the importance of childhood and what Carter 6 occurs to a human as a child potentially has the power to change their lives forever. Parents, or guardians exist as role models for their children. Either the young ones see what their parents accomplish and mock them, or they become the opposite. Emotions of a child affect emotions as an adult. Essentially, Dickens characterizes the idea that a person's adulthood is a reflection of their past.  

Struggling Towards Understanding and Awareness

As characters transpire through a course of struggles, the traditional author carries them to a point of understanding and awareness. In the novel, Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, characters are forced to face this struggle and eventually go on to reach their epiphany. However, this realization doesnąt occur until after much devastation and damage has been caused.

The eccentric Miss Havisham is one of these characters that is in constant battle with her emotional past. She uses her bitterness against mankind by adopting a young girl and training her to mechanically break the hearts of men. After many years of seclusion at Satis house, she employs Pip to amuse her and train her adopted daughter, Estella. She uses Estella as a form of torture for Pip since she knows very well that Estellaąs attractiveness will lure him in and capture her in his heart. Although Estella is completely inaccessible, Pip is still invited over and leaves the Satis house fully tormented. Miss Havishamąs devious ways give her enjoyment when she watches Pip suffer and yearn for a girl he canąt have. Also, when Pip discovers that he is intended for łgreat expectations,˛ she continues to lead him on making him think that she is the secret benefactor. Miss Havisham merely uses Pip as a pawn to play and exploit with in her game of retaliation. Her role as a complete manipulator helps her seek revenge to all mankind on account of her misfortunes.

Miss Havishamąs fortune quickly alters when things donąt go as she has planned. She watches intently as Estella throws herself at Drummle and realizes that sheąs the reason that Estella migrates towards a man of low stature like Drummle. Seeing Pip desolate and extremely hurt makes her feel like she betrays someone so undeserving of this kind of torment. Miss Havisham realizes that itąs too late to take back the past and change her meticulous ways. She can only remorse as she does her best to amend the disheveled situation, as she sees that thereąs not any course of action that would improve it. She is no longer cynical and hard headed. In a way, to make up for what she has caused, she helps fill Pipąs request to help Herbert Pocket in the Clarriker firm. She sees a new light and understands that her malicious game hurts the people who are closest to her and benefits no one, leaving her without anyone when she passes away.

Pip is another character in the novel that learns from his false pride and arrogant ways that he hurts the people that treasure him the most. While attending several visits to Miss Havishamąs house, Pip develops a snobbish superiority over Joe and the rest of his family. The standards at his common house could never live up to the lifestyle that the Havishams endure. He begins to develop a dislike of the łcommonness˛ of his lower class home. After being informed of his benefactor, Pip quickly leaves Joe to go to London without hesitation and remorse. As the years go on, he often comes back to visit Estella and Miss Havisham, but purposely avoids going back home. After living such a high class lifestyle, he canąt go back and associate with the common people. Even when Joe comes to visit him in his own home, Pip is completely ashamed of having Joeąs company. He even says, łIf I could have kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have paid money.˛ He is worrisome about what Herbert and the other towns people will think if they happen to see Pip and Joe together. Then, as he learns that the convict is the benefactor, he becomes embarrassed and highly ungrateful since it isnąt Miss Havisham as anticipated. Pipąs head becomes so clouded by this new high society that he refuses to accept the people in his past.

Coinciding with Miss Havishamąs realization, Pip begins to reach maturity and encounters the damage that he implements. He awakens to find that he does have a responsibility to Magwitch for his continuous generosity. While Magwitch is in jail, Pip visits and stays with him every day as he becomes Magwitchąs only companion when he needs it the most. Signs of unselfishness appear as he secretly helps his friend, Herbert, even though Pip himself is in debt. He even refuses to take money unearned from Miss Havisham and Magwitch. Pip understands that his whole way of living is superficial and meaningless to his life. He has to go through significant change before he realizes the true value of Biddy and Joe and how much he betrays the both of them. When Joe hears that he is sick, Joe immediately comes and takes care of Pip like he used to. Pip finally sees that Joe has his own pride and self respect when he goes back home for the first time in years. He realizes that Biddy wonąt wait for him and have her be the second option like he had thought. He patches things up with Biddy and Joe silently and is no longer afraid to show his face in their home. Pip realizes that people still live their lives without him and that he should not take friends and family for granted.

Faced with a hard lesson to overcome and learn, these two characters turn out to be decent people despite all the hardships they may have triggered. Even though they end up pushing away most of their closest friends, their realization is admirable because of the forceful ways they attempt to mend things back together. These characters reach understanding and awareness after their long struggle with their inner selves.


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