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CHARLES DICKENS (1812 - 1870)


CHARLES DICKENS (1812 - 1870)

Dickens had an unappy childhood, in fact his father was prisoned for debt and he had to work in a factory since the age of twelve. These days of sufferings inspired much of the content of his novels. In fact when he realized that he had talent for writing he became a newspaper report and he wrote his novels in a monthly magazine in the form of instalments. His most important novels are Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist, published in 1838. Dickens belongs to the

generation of victorian novelists, so he speaks 757b15h about his own time and about social changes. In particular he criticizes some aspects of society (law-workhouses), but he respects the structure and the political system in general, while the

2 generation novelists were consiouss of hypocrisy of their own time and they criticize all the aspects of society. The fact of writing for a magazine made him to conform to the public taste in using a melodramatic tone and in introducing an atmosphere of suspance at the end of every instalment. In particular he attracts the lower-middle-classes readers, because they found their lives and problems mirrored by his novels and the upper-classes readers, which share the humanitarian feelings toward the less luky people. The most recurring themes in Dickens's novels are childhood and social criticism, infact describing the life of children, Dickens criticizes the social institutions and the social conditions of the industrial revolution, which forced children to work in the workhouses in miserable conditions. In his novels the events are narrated by a third person narrator, but often they are seen through the eyes of the protagonist, a child, so the events are distorted and are full of gothic elements. Most of Dickens'characters belong to the lower-middle class, the class which Dickens knew best and to which he was the first to assign the role of protagonist in fiction. He focuses his attention on their economic worries, their fear of social instability and poverty with a sympathy, due to the same experiences he proved. Dickens' criticism of society is almost exclusively moral. He attacks the law, parliamentary government, the educational system but he doesn't suggest any solution and improvements, but his attitude isn't destructive because he doesn't want to overthrown the socio-economical system.

Chapter 1: Dikens describes Oliver's birth in an unknown workhouse. Yet from the beginning we can understand how life would be for Oliver (ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble) and also the description of his difficult birth is an allegory of his future sorrow. An important feature of Dicken's style is irony, which appears in particular from the description of Mrs Thingummy (is considered an object and not a person),which is an old drunk woman and when the infant Oliver bawled and adverted the guests of the workhouse that "a new burden had been imposed upon the parish". Besides Dickens criticized the strict class-division when Oliver, for the fact that he is dressed as a ragged person, is "bagded and ticked" as an orphan of the workhouse. Chapter 2: Oliver is about ten years old, so he had to start working and he is presented to the board (hence the irony for the double interpretation of the word board). Here Dickens underlines the hypocrisy of the workhouses, which instead of helping poor people, exploited them and in change it provided for them unwealthy food and a place to sleep. Moreover Dickens makes a deep dinstinction between the good children exploited and the evil directors of the work house (the boy is fool - what could the boy be crying for ?- pray for the people who feed you and take care of you, like a Christian - that boy will be hung). Dickens exaggerates on the consequences of Oliver's request, in particular the astonishment of the master and of the board and the decision to "offer a reward of five pounds to anybody who would take Oliver Twist off the hands of the parish" in this way Dickens criticizes the apparently philantrophy of reach people.


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