Don't Know Dickens

Charles Dickens, that is.

What have I learned about Dickens?

He has too many secrets! This guy has plans, I hope, to answer all of the questions the first reading assignment has left me with. I feel teased and unsatisfied, and I wish I could take advantage of this rainy evening and READ. Dickens gives so much detail about the setting and the characters that I expected more about what is going on with the characters. Even though I am not sure I like his work, I need to know what happens next (or is it that I need to know what has already happened?).

The only thing more frustrating than being left with unanswered questions is how much attention I have to give to the text. Maybe I should be embarrassed that I have to re-read several passages because I know something is there, but I didn’t get it the first time. At first, I blamed my lack of comprehension on my Nook. I have used my Nook only to read for pleasure (and Dickens has not made it into this category–yet), and it is strange to read on my Nook for class. I haven’t taken any notes because it is a pain, so maybe I will go back to a real book. Or my iPad.

I definitely want to start highlighting the lines of social commentary, like the following from Mrs. Wilfer in response to her husband.

 It is as you think; not as I do.

The statement was almost as unexpected as the subject of the next sentence, which was “dutiful wife.” [Side note: Don’t Google “dutiful wife” images–I’m shocked!] I might have been slightly offended except that he seems to poke at everyone, like when Lizzie ignores Miss Abbey’s pleas and Miss Abbey, “who, like all hard people when they do soften…became frigid.”

Do you think Dickens’ readers went around comparing people in his books to people they knew, like what happened in The Help? I wonder how many people he knew ended up in his work–and only found out when they read it!


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3 thoughts on “What have I learned about Dickens?

  1. Oh the social commentary will be a rich theme for you to follow… esp. with gender roles. Dickens really digs into these (not always in ways that please me), but still, it’s there. And, absolutely, Diekens’s readers went around comparing themselves to the characters. A former object of Dickens’s attention recognized herself in a character, as did others, and it was not an attractive character at all! Maria Beadnell was her name and the character was Flora Finching in Little Dorrit, but Dickens also modeled Dora in David Copperfield after her… and killed her off!

  2. I think we all have to read passages again and again until we understand them and “get” what Dickens is trying to tell us. This is a great post and I love what you said at the end about The Help. Nice job 🙂

  3. Dickens is such a rich, rich writer–everything is so dense.

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