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Charles Dickens and Great Expectations

Charles Dickens and Great Expectations

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Charles Dickens and Great Expectations

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  1. Charles Dickens and Great Expectations

  2. Beginnings • Charles John Huffam Dickens • Born on February 7, 1812 • Second child to John and Elizabeth Dickens • Father was a clerk for a Naval Pay Officer • Lower middle class which “consisted of shabby genteel who had slipped down from higher classes and artisans and working classmen who had improved themselves” (“Charles”) • They “Jealously cherished its pretensions of being a cut above the proletariat, whom it thought to be dirty, immoral, drunken, profane, comical, and potentially murderous” (Cruikshank 12). Also believed itself to be more moral than the “corrupt and sensual aristocracy” (Cruikshank 12).

  3. Moving Around • The Dickens family moved often because of their father’s job and loose spending habits. • Charles remembered his fondest years of childhood as the five years spent in Chatham where the family moved when Charles was 5. • He first saw the mansion Gad’s Hill Place there and watched the prison ships called Hulks. • There he was allowed to attend school and learned to read and write • In 1822 they moved back to Camdon, North London

  4. Early Work for Chuck • Father was imprisoned for debt early in Charles’ life (around the age of 12). Went to Marshalsea Prison. Had to pay to be there but could earn no money to get out of debt. • Family lived with father in Prison so Charles is on his own • Charles is sent to work to support his family • Jealous of his sister who was studying at the Royal Academy of Music

  5. Marshalsea Debter’s Prison

  6. Poor Charles • Charles was left alone to support himself • Charles then went to work for a relative of his mother’s pasting labels on the bottles of shoe polish at Warren’s Blackening factory 12 hours a day, six days a week • Eventually, due to an inheritance, the family’s debt was paid and they were allowed to leave prison (In prison 6-12 months

  7. Dickens had always dreamed of living the life of an upper class gentleman, but had no money to achieve that dream. Other boys working there made fun of him by calling him “the young gentleman.” He said,” No words can express the agony of my soul as I sunk into this companionship.” Warren’s Shoe Blacking Company

  8. The Bitterness Begins • Charles re-enrolls in school again against his mother’s will. Attended Wellington House Academy with cruel headmaster who beat kids. • She did not want to lose the income Charles was bringing in. • Never forgot the bitterness and sense of betrayal • “ I never afterwards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget that my mother was warm for my being sent back [to Warren’s Blackening].”

  9. Education • Dickens education was mostly informal • Taught to read by his mother at early age • By age of ten he had read novels like Robinson Crusoe, Tom Jones, and Don Quixote • At age 18 he buys a reading ticket to the library at the British Museum and also taught himself shorthand.

  10. Work • Worked various jobs after the Blackening factory • Spent two years as a law clerk • After learning shorthand he spent 4 years as a legal reporter, then as shorthand reporter in Parliament (his “dissatisfaction with government comes from this time) • 1834 joins staff of the Morning Chronicle as a news reporter covering political news. Newspaper was known for its crusade to improve the ills of society. He developed a “burning sense of the hurt and injustice suffered by ordinary people” (Seward 461). • He also begins at this time to write for publication • This point in his life marked by fierce determination to succeed

  11. Romance • Charles falls in love older Maria Beadnell, daughter of a rich banker • Goes well until she returns from Finishing school in Paris and loses interest in him. • His friend John Forester later related that he was surprised at how hard Dickens took the break up but recognized that it was fueled by a deep sense of social inferiority

  12. More Love • Meets Catherine Hogarth, Daughter of the Morning Chronicle Editor. • Married in 1836 • Odd relationship though, lacked the luster of his previous relationship • Often broke dates and would reprimand Catherine if she protested

  13. Bad Charles • Charles constantly found himself infatuated with other women • Mary, younger sister to Catherine, lived with them until she suddenly died at age 17 • Charles was crushed which only infuriated his already jealous wife

  14. His Writing • Sold his first short pieces and sketches in London at the Morning Chronicle and other papers • Started writing under the pen name of Boz • He published a collection of these short stories in a book called Sketches by Boz which received much critical praise and sparked Dickens’ career

  15. The Novels Keep On Coming • He earned some early recognition with these but gained more fame from his serialized novels the first of which, the comedic Pickwick Papers was a success • Pickwick Papers sold over 40,000 copies for each serial addition. • Oliver Twist was started after Pickwick and Nicholas Nickleby and A Christmas Carol soon followed • Started weekly periodicals called Household Words and then All the Year Round. They dea

  16. Christmas Time With Uncle Charles • Dickens then wrote 5 consecutive Christmas stories of which the most famous is A Christmas Carol

  17. Bad Times at Ridgemont High • Dickens older sister dies in 1848 • Wife has a nervous breakdown in 1850 after the birth of their daughter Dora Annie • 1851 Dora dies as well as Dickens’ Father • Through this time, Dickens writes David Copperfield

  18. Lawrence Kappel “For the first time, (Dickens) conceived a hero who could survive in the midst of problem-filled world of experience by using his artistic imagination, like Dickens himself. This autobiographical novel was a celebration of the artist’s ability to cope with the world right in the center of it, as opposed to just surviving the world by retreating to some safe place at the edge of it…”

  19. Poor, Poor Charles • The bad times kept on coming with the scandal of yet another young woman and Dickens still dealing with the breakdown and subsequent divorce of Catherine • Novels like Bleak House, Hard Times, and Little Dorrit were his darkest and bleakest yet

  20. Great Expectations • Dickens hit gold with his next novel Great Expectations • Received mixed reviews from the critics but the public loved it • Some called it his greatest work yet

  21. The Last One • Dickens writes his last full novel Our Mutual Friend which returned to his darker side dealing with the further deepening corruption in society • Dickens toured heavily doing reading and signings until his health declined • Started The Mystery of Edwin Drood in 1869 but died in 1870 of an apparent brain hemorrhage • He is buried in the poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey

  22. The Victorian Novel • British novels published between 1840 and 1880 often are grouped together under the title "Victorian," as if some essential identity derived from having been published during the long reign of the person George Eliot called "our little humbug of a queen." • 19th-century writers were engaged in redefining fundamental ideas of identity and social order and in giving positive value and currency to terms like "self" and "society," which, even as late as the mid • .19th century

  23. Setting of Great Expectations • Turn of the 18th century London had 1 million people • By 1881, there was a 450% increase. Populations was now four and a half million because of Industrial Revolution. • More slums, orphans, increased poverty, child labor. • Pip lived in Kent • Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837

  24. Social Reform • Dickens treats a variety of social issues in Great Expectations—prejudice, materialism, social status, and class—in a sensible manner." •  Some have criticized Dickens's works for emphasizing grave social injustices but not offering any solutions. But such criticism misses Dickens's point: believing history has proved economic systems to be incapable of relieving poverty, Dickens stresses the importance of individual responsibility and compassion for the plight of the poor and disfranchised."

  25. More Reform • Around 1800 social reformers began calling for changes in child labor laws because of long hours and unsafe conditions. Child labor caused “illiteracy, further “impoverishment of poor families, and a multitude of diseased and crippled children” (Child Labor) • Factory Act—1819 forbade children from working at night and limited work day to 12 hours. No policing so did no good. • .

  26. Child Labor • 1847 The Ten Hours Act reduced hours for all workers to ten hours, six days a week. • Factory Act of 1833 forbade children under age of nine from working in factories and limited hours of children up to age eighteen. Paid inspectors

  27. Educational Reform • Early 1800s there was no state-funded schooling • Lower-middle class children either went without schooling or went to Dame or evening schools which were inadequate. • When lower-middle class children could attend a school, they where often cruel where headmaster believed that beating children is a way to knock sense into them. Children were afraid to take risks in learning. • 1870 Education Act required neighborhood districts to use taxes for schools • 1880 another act made education compulsory for children 5-10 years of age.

  28. Debtor’s Laws • 1800 laws allowed government officials to lock those in debt in prisons • The imprisonment of Dickens’ father in Marshalsea Prison in 1824 compelled Dickens to show the world that not all debtors were low-down criminals. • 1834 the New Poor Law allowed for those in debt to go into a workhouse where they could work for their keep. • Poor conditions of prison, where inmates were thrown together leading to fights or put into solitary confinement leading to antisocial behavior • Ugly cycle—poor had no money, introduced to crime just to eat, thrown in prison at early age, earmarked as criminal, in and out of prison with no rehabilitating or helping the individual change

  29. Overall Themes • Pip’s realization that wealth and class are less important than affection, loyalty, and inner worth • affection, loyalty, and conscience are more important than social advancement, wealth, and class. • social class becomes a superficial standard of value that Pip must learn to look beyond in finding a better way to live his life.

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