Differences and Similiraties Between Dickens and Hardy

Topics: Victorian era, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy Pages: 7 (2588 words) Published: February 19, 2013
Dickens was born in Portsea, in 12. His father, John Dickens, was a kind and likeable man, but incompetent with money, and due to his financial difficulties they moved to Camden when Dickens was nine. When Charles was twelve his father was arrested and taken to the debtors’ prison in Southwark. He started working at Warren’s blacking-warehouse and its strenuous working conditions made an impression on him, later influencing his fiction. He became interested in writing (and acting) and, after having learnt shorthand in his spare time, he began working as a freelance reporter at the Parliament and the Old Bailey. Under the nom de plume Boz he published the eponymous Sketches (36), a collection of short pieces concerning London scenes and people. In 36 he married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of a fellow editor, yet this union proved to be an unhappy one and, though she bore him ten children, he decided to separate from her after 22 years, having fallen in love with an 18-year-old actress, Ellen Ternan. This fact often constituted a reason of doubt, regret and depression for his Victorian frame of mind. The Sketches were immediately followed by the Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, a publication in installments which confirmed his success as a humorist and satirist. His rise to fame continued with Oliver Twist (38), David Copperfield (49-50), Little Dorrit (57), all influenced by his childhood memories (he purportedly had a near-photographic memory), and his journalistic career. By means of subtle irony, he denounced the exploitation of children in the slums and factories. His later novels Bleak House (53), Hard times (54) and Great Expectations (60-1) revolve around various social issues, emphasizing the difficult condition of the working class and the poor. Throughout his life he edited several newspapers and magazines, e.g. Household Words or All The Year Round, which hosted serializations of many prominent novels. His last years were marked by numerous reading tours, even in America, and the foundation of charities to help the poor. After his death in 70 his remains were buried in the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Above all, Dickens was a storyteller, as he was influenced by the Bible, fairy tales, fables and nursery rhymes as well as 18th-century essayists and Gothic novelists. His novels have been praised – from Tolstoj to Orwell - for their realism and good story planning. On the other hand, Wilde and Virginia Woolf complained of their episodic nature and artificial vein of saccharine sentimentalism. Of course the publication in monthly or weekly installments imposed strict terms, preventing unified plotting and creating pressure on Dickens to suit the taste of the audience. Most of his novels are set in London, a city he knew well and of which he gave vivid and realistic sketches. In Dickens’s first works, his characters are taken from the bourgeoisie, although often satirized, whereas in the latter novels he presents a more radical point of view on society, still without being a revolutionary thinker. His awareness of the increasing spiritual and material corruption as a consequence of industrialization made him more and more critical of society. His mature works managed to draw popular attention to public abuses, evils and injustices by means of the juxtapositions of terrible descriptions of London desolation and crime and hilarious sketches of the city. He created caricatures by exaggerating and ridiculing the distinctive social characteristics of the middle, lower and lowest classes in their own voices and conversations. His female characters are feeble, and either completely good or irrecoverably evil (a black-and-white morality possibly derived from his difficult relation with his mother). He sympathizes with the poor and the outcast: he shifts the perspective from the upper middle-class world of 18th-century fiction to the life of the lower orders and the working class. Children are often the...
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