Identify five social problems that concerned dickens during his lifetime

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identify five social problems that concerned dickens during his lifetime

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

Reading Dickens is like taking a deep breath of air, feeling life in its most vivid form!

Being completely faithless and illoyal, I will now dump all previous Dickens novels and claim with brutal inconsistency that Nicholas Nickleby is my favourite!

Yes, I know! I have said it before, and I am likely to say it again, knowing human nature in its most Dickensian expressions. But Nicholas really is my “Now Time Favourite”.

I should like to state my case, as it would be very un-Dickensian of me not to indulge in a long explanation of my way of thinking on the subject, especially as it is a tricky situation, claiming a favourite child among so many. Dickens knows where that favouritism can lead in real life, having painted the effects of parenting in his most colourful characters.


First of all, it is a social satire. Well, well, well, that is not an argument - they all are!

Agree, but this one touches on the virtues and vices not only of the Victorian society it describes, but of human family relations and business endeavours in general. We will still find plenty of schoolmasters making a profit of parents’ neglect or gullibility, and those contemporary school masters will be infinitely better at marketing their fraud with pretty business phrases (of the educational genre) than the odious Mr Squeers. We will still find misers of Uncle Scrooge’s calibre, just like Ralph Nickleby, all the more realistic for not undergoing the magical Christmassy transformation of his later double. We will find posers and cruisers who live off their social status, filling their days with vanities and sexual assaults on women who are too poor and neglected to protect themselves against the shamelessness of complete entitlement. Mulberry - your downfall made me SMILE!

Dickens’ strong sense of social injustice is like therapy for my tortured heart, and I don’t mind at all that it is quite improbable that all the good, hardworking, caring characters have their reward in the end. Nobody knew better than Dickens that real life doesn’t play fair at any time. But he also knew what a relief it is to feel, for once, in literature, that AMOR VINCIT OMNIA!

“ - how much injustice, misery, and wrong, there was, and yet how the world rolled on, from year to year, alike careless and indifferent, and no man seeking to remedy or redress it - when he thought of all this, and selected from the mass the one slight case on which his thoughts were bent, he felt indeed, that there was little ground for hope, and little reason why it should not form an atom in the huge aggregate of distress and sorrow, and add one small and unimportant unit to swell the great amount.”

And yet, Dickens goes on to show that giving up is not an option, and that the atom of sorrow that one individual feels is worthy of the great author’s attention, and he gives harsh reality a fictional, poetical justice - that being all he can do! It is more than nothing, decidedly!

So, do I need any other arguments? The one I chose doesn’t seem to make Nicholas Nickleby stand out beside Bleak House, David Copperfield, Martin Chuzzlewit, Great Expectations and all the other “former all-time favourite Dickenses”.

So what was so refreshing this time around? The “bad” characters were what I expected, shown in their malice, sly greed and comical evil. The huge cast of funny supporting characters were equipped with the usual amount of burlesque humour, and they were ranging from circus actors to owners of small businesses, showing the diversity in which family vanities can express themselves, for good and for bad. Nothing unexpected there, just good old Dickensian performance.

The difference lies in the “good” main characters. The minor complaint I had regarding other Dickens novels was my lack of bonding with the “too good to be true” lead protagonists. I didn’t like David Copperfield himself that much, being just too gullible and naive, and I certainly didn’t warm to the overly sweet and self-sacrificing Esther in Bleak House. That silent suffering felt almost like Dostoevsky (and Dickens, with his sense of humour and sharp eye for satire can’t compete with the Russian master in the arena of suffering for the sake of honour - it just doesn’t match his joie de vivre). Nicholas and his sister Kate are of a different calibre, though. Hotheaded, rash, confident, they don’t suffer in silence, they SPEAK UP!

I loved that. Losing your temper and speaking truth to power is so much more rewarding in my world than silently suffering in your chamber, crying little unseen tears over your unfair fate, while leaving it to others to fix your mess. Nicholas and Kate, and their friends, are very independent, honest thinkers, and they deserve what they get because they are willing to fight for it, and to work honestly to achieve happiness.

Cheers to Nicholas and Kate! Keep kicking and screaming.

I won’t say anything more now, as I can feel the need to analyse each single character in depth, to the boredom and annoyance of anyone who proceeds to read this far. Read the book instead, it is worth each minute spent on it!

December Dickens 2017 - a blast!
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Published 16.12.2018

Thinking About Social Problems Differently

What were five social problems that concerned Charles Dickens during his lifetime?

Surprisingly, Charles Dickens did not win any awards or honors during his lifetime. He is known as one of the greatest British authors, and was instrumental in revealing a lot of the social problems that were taking place in Industrial Britain. He was a payroll clerk for the British Navy. Queen Victoria - I know he was alive in the Victorian era. Because of his family's dept problems.

Charles Dickens wrote fourteen full novels as well as sketches, travel, and Christmas books, and was at work on his fifteenth novel when he died. He took chances, dealt with social issues, and did not shy away from big ideas. Almost all of Dickens's novels display his comic. Many of his creations, most notably Ebenezer Scrooge, have become familiar English literary stereotypes, and today many of his novels are considered classics. He was the son of a lower-middle-class father whose lack of financial foresight Dickens would later satirize in David Copperfield.

Charles Dickens

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