Charles Dickens English Comp 1 Research Paper

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Charles Dickens was one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time and one of the most popular. He was, as he was nicknamed, "The Inimitable" and it can be argued that in all of English literature, his creativity is rivaled only by Shakespeare's. He was a very complex man, seen by many of the important literary figures of his day who were acquainted with him. Ralph Waldo Emerson attended one of Dickens's public readings in Boston during Dickens's American tour. Emerson laughed, he said, "as if he must crumble to pieces," but afterward he commented that he was afraid that Dickens possessed too much talent for his genius; it is a fearful locomotive to which he is bound and can never be free from it nor set to rest, “He daunts me! I have not the key.” (337-338) Dickens's genius, his obsession with work, his life-long love affair with his public, and his deep humanity all helped to make him a literary phenomenon. Because his works appealed to people of all conditions, and because he could take advantage of new technological developments, he reached, from the publication of the Pickwick Papers on, an audience of unprecedented size — an audience which he was able to influence emotionally to an extent never equaled. He was not merely a writer but also a public figure. He was, for example, widely regarded as the best after-dinner speaker, as well the best amateur actor, of his day, and during his own lifetime he became a mythic figure. He was a great comic artist and a great entertainer, but his influence over his public was strongest, perhaps, when he struck a vein of sentiment which ran deep in Victorian society. Like many authors, Charles Dickens drew from his own life’s experiences as a means to produce many tales. These tales included how evil society was, where industries force children into labor, and how injustice the courts were. Charles Dickens, one the most significant authors of the English Victorian Period, was greatly influenced as a writer by his family background, life experiences, and religious views. Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. After a transfer to London in 1814, the family moved to Chatham, near Rochester, three years later. Dickens was about five at the time, and for the next five years his life was pleasant. Taught to read by his mother, he devoured his fathers' small collection of classics, which included Shakespeare, Cervantes, Defoe, Smollet, Fielding, and Goldsmith. Psychologist believes these left a permanent mark on his imagination; their effect on his art was quite important. Dickens also went to some performances of Shakespeare and formed a lifelong attachment to the theater. He attended school during this period and showed himself to be a rather solitary, observant, good-natured child with some talent for comic routines, which his father encouraged. In retrospect Dickens looked upon these years as a kind of golden age. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers, is in part an attempt to recreate their idyllic nature: it rejoices in innocence and the youthful spirit, and its happiest scenes take place in that precise geographical area. (Watts 19-21) In the light of the family's move back to London, where financial difficulties overtook the Dickens's, the time in Chatham must have seemed glorious indeed. The family moved into the shabby suburb of Camden Town, and Dickens was taken out of school and set to menial jobs about the household. In time, to help augment the family income, Dickens was given a job in a blacking factory among rough companions. At the time his father was imprisoned for debt, but was released three months later by a small legacy. Dickens related to his friend, John Forster, long afterward, that he felt a deep sense of abandonment at this time; the major themes of his novels can be traced to this period. Dickens later used his father as the basis for Mr. Micawber and portrayed is mother as Mrs. Nickleby in A Tale of Two Cities. His...
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