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Ivana Jankovic

Charles Dickens`s life and work

Chapter 2. Charles Dickenss life and work


2.1 Charles Dickens`life
Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. During his life, his works enjoyed unique fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular. To his loyal readers he was the most popular, most beloved with his greatest stories in old literature. He was the foremost writer and public celebrity of the 19th century. He created formative timing and development literate imagination of one culture, wonderful characters whose names have become part of the common coalition of how we talk.7 He was born in Portsmouth, on the southern coast of England. He was born in an enormously interesting period, when Victorian era was over the horizon, it was be writing with values, middle-class expand. But of course, there were also, Industrial Revolution, and people that work being forced to live and work in gruesome. Dickens left school to work in a factory after his father was thrown into debtors' prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other . Charles Dickens was the second of eight children to John Dickens (1785-1851) and Elizabeth Dickens (ne Barrow 1789-1863). His father John was a clerk who dreamed of striking it rich. Charless mother Elizabeth aspired to be a teacher and school director. He was living in catholic family. Very soon after his birth the family moved to Norfolk Street, Bloomsbury, and then, when he was four, to Chatham, Kent, where he spent his formative years until the age of 11. His early years seem to have been idyllic, though he thought himself a "very small and not-over-particularly-taken-care-of boy". In this new and changing world
7

Galea, Ileana - Victorianism and Literature, Ed. Dacia, Cluj-Napoca, 1994, p.47

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Dickens with braised eight children from whom the imagination Charles strove to stand out. Charles Dickens as a child had a performance personality and his talents at an early age were mostly channeled into being acute entreating. Please love me, I can do a song and top dance routine and entertain people kind of performance. His parents loved it, but they have no reason to think that this was genius. One day when Charles was still quite young, nine years old, he and his father were out walking. They walk up till the hill and suddenly Charles saw fine house in a little garden. That house impressed him so much, and his father told him : One day if you do very well when you grow up, you could be the owner of that house and he never forgot it. This period came to interrupted when, because of financial difficulties, the Dickens family moved from Kent to Camden Town in London in 1822. But even in this happy time, John Dickens carelessness with money began to threat the family security. Charless schooling abruptly halted, as the family plugged to a deeper and deeper into debt. Prone to living beyond his means, John Dickens was arrested for debt and thrown in the Marshalsea debtors' prison in South London in 1824. The Marshalsea was a prison in which you were put if you couldnt afford to pay your debts. Shortly afterwards, Johns wife and the youngest children joined him there, as was the practice at the time.8 On Sundayswith his sister Frances, free from her studies at the Royal Academy of Musiche spent the day at the Marshalsea. . To pay for his board and to help his family, Dickens was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days at Warren's Blacking Warehouse, on Hungerford Stairs, near the present Charing Cross railway station, where he earned six shillings a week pasting labels on pots of boot blacking. The strenuous and often cruel working conditions made a lasting impression on Dickens and later influenced his fiction and essays, becoming the foundation of his interest in the reform of socio-economic and labour conditions, the rigours of which he believed were unfairly borne by the poor. He later wrote that he wondered "how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age". The blacking-warehouse was the last house on the left-hand side of the way, at old Hungerford Stairs. It was a crazy, tumble-down old house, abutting of course on the river, and literally overrun with rats. Its wainscoted rooms, and its rotten floors and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up
8

Ibidem, p.188.

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the stairs at all times, and the dirt and decay of the place, rise up visibly before me, as if I were there again. The counting-house was on the first floor, looking over the coal-barges and the river. There was a recess in it, in which I was to sit and work. My work was to cover the pots of pasteblacking; first with a piece of oil-paper, and then with a piece of blue paper; to tie them round with a string; and then to clip the paper close and neat, all round, until it looked as smart as a pot of ointment from an apothecary's shop. When a certain number of grosses of pots had attained this pitch of perfection, I was to paste on each a printed label, and then go on again with more pots. Two or three other boys were kept at similar duty down-stairs on similar wages. One of them came up, in a ragged apron and a paper cap, on the first Monday morning, to show me the trick of using the string and tying the knot. His name was Bob Fagin; and I took the liberty of using his name, long afterwards, in Oliver Twist. He wrote about it all the time, experience are crime of being sent to jail of loosing your money, of having guilty secrets is always somewhere close to the heart of his novels. The blacking factory episode does not account for Dickens's genius, but it does, I believe, explain some of the forms his genius took, and it throws light on much that is otherwise baffling both in his art and his life. It explains why we so often find at the centre of his novels the figure of the lost, persecuted, or helpless child: Oliver Twist, Little Nell, David, Paul Dombey, Pip, and their near relations, Smirke and Jo, in Bleak House. It explains, too, why their rescue, when there is a rescue, so often has the appearance of a fairystory ending, the result of what is sometimes called wishful thinking, just as the deaths of Little Nell, Paul Dombey, and Jo are dramatizations of his own self-pity. And it explains the dominant mood in which his world is created. It was not at all one of good- humoured acceptance of things, but a mood of nightmare compounded of lurid melodrama and savage comedy, relieved from time to time by unreflecting joy in the absurd and the comic for their own sakes'. After a few months in Marshalsea, John Dickens's paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Dickens, died and bequeathed him the sum of 450. On the expectation of this legacy, Dickens was granted release from prison. Under the Insolvent Debtors Act, Dickens arranged for payment of his creditors, and he and his family left Marshalsea, for the home of Mrs. Roylance. 9 Although Charles eventually attended the Wellington House Academy in North London, his mother Elizabeth Dickens did not immediately remove him from the boot-blacking factory. Charless mother argued with his father and said: Should Charles stay there and work, or get
9

Dickens, Charles, The Old Curiosity Shop, Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1995, p.4

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back on track of a education and rising to a profession to be gentleman? But we need money, the boy should stay there! The incident may have done much to confirm Dickens's view that a father should rule the family, a mother find her proper sphere inside the home. Words can not express the secret agony of myself. His mother's failure to request his return was a factor in his dissatisfied attitude towards women. Righteous anger stemming from his own situation and the conditions under which working-class people lived became major themes of his works, and it was this unhappy period in his youth to which he alluded in his favourite, and most autobiographical, novel, David Copperfield: "I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I hope to go to heaven!" The Wellington House Academy was not a good school. "Much of the haphazard, desultory teaching, poor discipline punctuated by the headmaster's sadistic brutality, the seedy ushers and general run-down atmosphere, are embodied in Mr. Creakle's Establishment in David Copperfield.10 After fathers prison, Charles was not sent to the black factory, instead after a short stint as an oppressive school, he remembered bitterly, a sixteen-year-old boy began career as a clack in a lawyers office. Dickens worked at the law office of Ellis and Blackmore, attorneys, of Holborn Court, Gray's Inn, as a junior clerk from May 1827 to November 1828. Charles Dickens stayed there for a couple of years. He never lights lawyers in all his books, they are awful people. The young Dickens, and his nights in Londons theatres, led him to idea to become an actor, but destiny was turned in another direction. He moved onto becoming what was known in those days, as a reporter. Then, having learned Gurney's system of shorthand in his spare time, he left to become a freelance reporter. A distant relative, Thomas Charlton, was a freelance reporter at Doctors' Commons, and Dickens was able to share his box there to report the legal proceedings for nearly four years. This education was to inform works such as Nicholas Nickleby, Dombey and Son, and especially Bleak Housewhose vivid portrayal of the machinations and bureaucracy of the legal system did much to enlighten the general public and served as a vehicle for dissemination of Dickens's own views regarding, particularly, the heavy
10

Dickens, Charles, David Copperfield, Wordsworth Classics, Hertfordshire, 1992, p.212.

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burden on the poor who were forced by circumstances to "go to law". In the same time his ears and eyes were open and he was learning things about speech, about personality, about social conditions, about government, and about all aspects of life. But there was one aspect of life in which the young Charles Dickens was entirely unprepared. Love. In 1829 when he became a free-lance reporter at Doctor's Commons Courts, and in 1830 he met and fell in love with Maria Beadnell, the daughter of a banker. By 1832 he had become a very successful shorthand reporter of Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons, and began work as a reporter for a newspaper. His first love, Maria Beadnell, thought to have been the model for the character Dora in David Copperfield. She was more than human to me,she was a fairy, I dont know what she was.Anything, what no one ever saw, and everything that everybody ever wanted. Charles was blown of by Marias family, possibly because of Marias father said: You are going to marry with someone wealthier than this guy. He felt like his heart was broken, he dreamed, however he was also a very determined and disciplined young man: I have never loved, and I never can bluff any human creature living by yourself Maria's parents disapproved of the courtship and ended the relationship by sending her to school in Paris. Relationship with Maria Beadnell ended, probably because her parents did not think him a good match (a not very flattering version of her would appear years later in Little Dorrit). In the same year his first published story appeared, and was followed, very shortly thereafter, by a number of other stories and sketches. In 1834, still a newspaper reporter, he adopted the soon to be famous pseudonym "Boz." His impecunious father (who was the original of Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield, as Dickens's mother was the original for the querulous Mrs. Nickleby) was once again arrested for debt, and Charles, much to his chagrin, was forced to come to his aid. Later in his life both of his parents (and his brothers) were frequently after him for money. In 1835 he met and became engaged to Catherine Hogarth. Theres much good evidence from his early days to show he had a romantically susceptible young heart. As a teenager he was very much a young man about town. He certainly seems to have gained an insiders awareness of the ways of this wicked world. Of his earliest amorous forays her wrote: 11 I broke my heart into the smallest pieces, many times between
1111

Dickens, Charles, The Old Curiosity Shop, Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1995, p.4.

11

Ibidem, p.218.

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thirteen and three and twenty. Twice, I was very horribly in earnest; and once really set upon the cast for six or seven long years, all the energy and determination of which I am owner. But it went the way of nearly all such things at last, though I think it kept me steadier than the working of my nature was, to many good things for the time. If anyone had interfered with my very small Cupid, I dont know what absurdity I might not have committed in assertion of his proper liberty; but having plenty of rope he hanged himself, beyond all such chance of restoration. In 1832, at age 20, Dickens was energetic, full of good humour, enjoyed mimicry and popular entertainment, lacked a clear sense of what he wanted to become, yet knew he wanted to be famous. He was drawn to the theatre and landed an acting audition at Covent Garden, for which he prepared meticulously but which he missed because of a cold, ending his aspirations for a career on the stage. A year later he submitted his first story, "A Dinner at Poplar Walk" to the London periodical, Monthly Magazine. He rented rooms at Furnival's Inn becoming a political journalist, reporting on parliamentary debate and travelling across Britain to cover election campaigns for the Morning Chronicle. His journalism, in the form of sketches in periodicals, formed his first collection of pieces Sketches by BozBoz being a family nickname he employed as a pseudonym for some yearspublished in 1836. Dickens apparently adopted it from the nickname Moses which he had given to his youngest brother Augustus Dickens, after a character in Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield. When pronounced by anyone with a headcold, 'Moses' became 'Boses', and was later shortened to Boz. Dickens's own name was considered "queer" by a contemporary critic, who wrote in 1849: "Mr Dickens, as if in revenge for his own queer name, does bestow still queerer ones upon his fictitious creations." He continued to contribute to and edit journals throughout his literary career. The success of these sketches led to a proposal from publishers Chapman and Hall for Dickens to supply text to match Robert Seymour's engraved illustrations in a monthly letterpress. Seymour committed suicide after the second instalment and Dickens, who wanted to write a connected series or sketches, hired "Phiz" to provide the engravings (which were reduced from four to two per instalment) for the story. The resulting story was the The Pickwick Papers with the final instalment selling 40,000 copies. In November 1836 Dickens accepted the job of editor of Bentley's Miscellany, a position he held for three years, until he fell out with the owner. In 1836 as he finished the last instalments of The Pickwick Papers he began writing the beginning instalments of Oliver 20

Ivana Jankovic

Charles Dickens`s life and work

Twistwriting as many as 90 pages a monthwhile continuing work on Bentley's, writing four plays, the production of which he oversaw. Oliver Twist, published in 1838, became one of Dickens's better known stories, with dialogue that transferred well to the stage (most likely because he was writing stage plays at the same time) and more importantly, it was the first Victorian novel with a child protagonist. On 2 April 1836, after a one year engagement, he married Catherine Thomson Hogarth (18161879), the daughter of George Hogarth, editor of the Evening Chronicle. After a brief honeymoon in Chalk, Kent, they returned to lodgings at Furnival's Inn. The first of ten children, Charley, was born in January 1837, and a few months later the family set up home in Bloomsbury at 48 Doughty Street, London, (on which Charles had a three-year lease at 80 a year) from 25 March 1837 until December 1839. Dickens's younger brother Frederick and Catherine's 17-year-old sister Mary moved in with them. Dickenss career was indeed prospering. He was soonest even his own wildest ambitions with help of certain character named Samuel Pickwick. Pacients, I would be famous yet, I should birth staff one of these days and when I do, what power can keep me down Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens In 1836, the year of Charless marriage, the struggling young writer was approached by the publishers with an offer to work on a project to be known as The Pickwick Papers. Charles said: It sounds like a good idea for me, but I want the illustrations follow the text, n ot protect follow illustrations and he got his way. He made a different story. He made a story about innocence wondering and kinds of scrapes they got into sort of bourgeois erotic comedy The Pickwick Papers which had a big popularity and it was sold 40 thousand copies a month. Successful Charles Dickens was able to move his family and in the 48 Doughty Street, London. It was interesting that Charles wrote every day, every night in his living-room, because there was no other place for him to wrote, and the rest of family will be doing whatever there is , including entertaining for guest, and he would sit there with absolute discipline concentration working on novels.12 In 1837, when he became very famous, after this success came tragedy. Mary suddenly dies. He was shattered by the laws. For the rest of his life he would be obsessed with hr, even expressing desires to some day share her dream. God seemed to be in His Heaven, and all was
12

Cartianu, Ana, Istoria literaturii engleze. Secolul al XIX-lea. Realismul critic, Ed. de Stat Didactic i Pedagogic,

Bucureti, 1961, p.53

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right in the world, when, on the evening of Saturday, 6 May 1837, Dickens and his wife went to the St James's Theatre. They had taken Mary and had an enjoyable evening. After returning home, and wishing each other good night, Dickens heard Mary cry out in pain. He ran to her bedroom, followed by his wife. The doctor was sent for. But she was beyond help. She died the following afternoon. He describes his grief in a letter to Mrs. Hogarth: This was about 3 o'clock on the Sunday afternoon. They think her heart was diseased. It matters little to relate these details now, for the light and life of our happy circle is gone -- and such a blank created as we can never supply. The entire family was thunderstruck. Mary's mother was insensible for a week. Catherine and Charles were dumbfounded. To a friend he wrote a day after Mary died: You cannot conceive the misery in which this dreadful event has plunged us. Since our marriage she has been the peace and life of our home -- the admired of all for her beauty and excellence -- I could have better spared a much nearer relation or an older friend, for she has been to us what we can never replace, and has left a blank which no one who ever knew her can have the faintest hope of seeing supplied. To his very close friend, Tom Beard, he wrote: "Thank God she died in my arms and that they very last words she whispered were of me ... I solemnly believe that so perfect a creature never breathed. I knew her inmost heart and her real worth and value. She had not a fault..." He wore her ring. In writing to Mary's mother, to thank her for sending him a lock of Mary Hogarth's hair, he said: I have never had her ring off my finger by day or night, except for an instant at a time, to wash my hands, since she died. I have never had her sweetness and excellence absent from my mind so long. I can solemnly say that, waking or sleeping, I have never lost the recollection of our hard trial and sorrow, and I feel that I never shall.... I wish you could know how I weary now for the three rooms in Furnival's Inn, and how I miss that pleasant smile and those sweet words which, bestowed upon our evening's work, in our merry banterings round the fire, were more precious to me than the applause of a whole world could be... John Forster, who knew him well, recorded in his Life of Charles Dickens 1872 that Dickens's grief and suffering were intense, and affected him for years. He certainly could not work for months. His love for Mary would never diminish, he claimed to Forster. On 25 October 1842, three years after her death, he wrote to Forster: The desire to be buried next to her is as

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strong upon me now as it was three years ago; and I know (for I don't think there ever was love like that I bear her) that it will never diminish.... In May 1842, when he stood at Niagara Falls, he thought of Mary Scott Hogarth: .... what would I give if the dear girl whose ashes lie at Kensal Green had lived to come so far along with us -- but she has been here many times ... since her sweet face faded from my earthly sight. He told Forster he dreamed of her constantly and in 1844 he recounted a dream:.... I recognized the voice.... I knew it was poor Mary's spirit. I was not at all afraid, but in great delight, so that I wept very much, and stretching out my arms to it as I called it Dear... In 1848 he wrote "This day eleven years, poor dear Mary died... The memory, the dreams, never left him. As Forster recorded:With longer or shorter intervals this was with him all his days. Never from his waking thoughts was the recollection altogether absent; and though the dream would leave him for a time, it unfailingly came back... in the very year before he died, the influence was potently upon him. 'She is so much in my thoughts at all times...that the recollection of her is an essential part of my being, and is as inseparable from my existence as the beating of my heart is.' Through later troubled years.... whatever was worthiest in him found in this an ark of safety... She represented an angelic female perfection whose corporeal manifestation in human form was a miracle in his sight. Her loss was irreparable. It left a wound from which he was never to recover. She died. But Mary Scott Hogarth never left Dickens's mind. He was completely unbalanced by her sudden death. He was forced to postpone writing the monthly parts of Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist. And it seems to me that her death left him with an irresistible magnetism towards beautiful young women. This was to lead him into the arms of Ellen Ternan and to the idealized, innocent, saintly, young female figures -- Little Nell, Florence Dombey, Agnes Wickfield, Esther Summerson and Amy Dorrit --which recur throughout his work. But we must not lose sight of the fact that these feelings were real. They were not affected. At the same time, his success as a novelist continued. The young Queen Victoria read both OliverTwist, staying up until midnight to discuss them. Nicholas Nickleby(1838 39), The Old Curiosity Shop and, finally, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty as part of the Master Humphrey's Clock series (184041) were all published in monthly instalments before being made into books.13
13

Ackroyd, Peter, Dickens, Sinclar-Steven, Minerva, London, 1990, p.189

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In 1842, Dickens and his wife made their first trip to the United States and Canada. At this time Georgina Hogarth, another sister of Catherine, joined the Dickens household, now living at Devonshire Terrace, Marylebone, to care for the young family they had left behind. She remained with them as housekeeper, organizer, adviser and friend until Dickens's death in 1870. He described his impressions in a travelogue, American Notes for General Circulation. Some of the episodes in Martin Chuzzlewit (184344) also drew on these first-hand experiences. Dickens includes in Notes a powerful condemnation of slavery, which he had attacked as early as The Pickwick Papers, correlating the emancipation of the poor in England with the abolition of slavery abroad. In his visit, Dickens spent a month in New York City, giving lectures and raising the question of international copyright laws and the pirating of his work in America. He persuaded twenty five writers, headed by Washington Irving to sign a petition for him to take to Congress, but the press were generally hostile to this saying that he should be grateful for his popularity and that it was mercenary to complain about his work being pirated. In the early 1840s Dickens showed an interest in Unitarian Christianity, although he never strayed from his attachment to popular lay Anglicanism. Soon after his return to England, Dickens began work on the first of his Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol, written in 1843, which was followed by The Chimes in 1844 and The Cricket on the Hearth in 1845. Of these A Christmas Carol was most popular and, tapping into an old tradition, did much promote a renewed enthusiasm for the joys of Christmas in Britain and America. The seeds for the story were planted in Dickens's mind during a trip to Manchester to witness conditions of the manufacturing workers there. This, along with scenes he had recently witnessed at the Field Lane Ragged School, caused Dickens to resolve to "strike a sledge hammer blow" for the poor. As the idea for the story took shape and the writing began in earnest, Dickens became engrossed in the book. He wrote that as the tale unfolded he "wept and laughed, and wept again" as he "walked about the black streets of London fifteen or twenty miles many a night when all sober folks had gone to bed." After living briefly in Italy (1844) Dickens travelled to Switzerland (1846); it was here he began work on Dombey and Son (184648). This and David Copperfield (184950) mark a significant artistic break in Dickens's career as his novels became more serious in theme and more carefully planned than his early works.

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In late November 1851, Dickens moved into Tavistock House where he wrote Bleak House (185253), Hard Times (1854) and Little Dorrit (1857). It was here he indulged in the amateur theatricals which are described in Forster's "Life". During this period he worked closely with the novelist and playwright Wilkie Collins. In 1856, his income from writing allowed him to buy Gad's Hill Place in Higham, Kent. As a child, Dickens had walked past the house and dreamed of living in it. The area was also the scene of some of the events of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 and this literary connection pleased him.14 In 1857, Dickens hired professional actresses for the play The Frozen Deep, which he and his protg Wilkie Collins had written. Dickens fell deeply in love with one of the actresses, Ellen Ternan, which was to last the rest of his life. Dickens was 45 and Ternan 18 when he made the decision, which went strongly against Victorian convention, to separate from his wife, Catherine, in 1858divorce was still unthinkable for someone as famous as he was. When Catherine left, never to see her husband again, she took with her one child, leaving the other children to be raised by her sister Georgina who chose to stay at Gad's Hill. Dickens never lost his love of theatre and developed into a fine amateur actor. He threw himself into amateur theatricals at Tavistock House. Wilkie Collins had written a melodrama, The Frozen Deep, inspired by Sir John Franklin's fateful expedition to the North West Passage in 1845. It was performed at the Free Trade Hall with a possible audience of over two thousand. Professional actresses, Mrs. Ternan and two of her theatrical daughters, Maria and Ellen, took the leading female parts on this occasion. Ellen Ternan was very pretty eighteen yearold, who looked even younger. She had fair hair, large blue eyes, golden curly hair hanging in ringlets and a lively personality. Dickens fell madly, intoxicatingly and indulgently in love with her. He was totally possessed. At this time the marriage between Charles and Catherine was rapidly deteriorating. Ellen was probably an effect rather than the cause of break-up. The performance in Manchester was a triumph. At the high-water mark of the drama, as Ellen nursed the dying Dickens in her arms, her tears fell down on to his face, poured all over him like rain. He whispered to her: "My dear child, it will over in two minutes. Pray, compose yourself." Ellen answered: "It's no comfort to me that it will be soon over. Oh! it is so sad, it is so dreadfully sad. Oh, don't die! Give me time, give me a little time. Don't take leave of me in this terrible way -pray, pray, pray!"
14

ibidem, p.210

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Ellen took possession of his mind. He spent a great deal of time in her proximity -travelling, rehearsing, communal meals -- and she seemed to fill the gap opened by his anticipation in meeting Maria Beadnell again, which in the event, the real Maria had failed to fulfill. Now that these performances, which had buoyed him up for so many weeks, were over, he lapsed into depression. He went on a tour with Collins through Cumberland. They went to Doncaster races. What a coincidence -- the Theatre Royal, open during the race meeting, had engaged Mrs. Ternan and her daughters for the season. Dickens returned to London even more unsettled than before. They had been married twenty-two years. He was forty-six, she was fortythree. He was a man of ruthless, brisk, regimental routine. He could no longer tolerate his wife's clumsiness, inefficiency and haphazard way coping with life. This seems cruel. She had given birth to ten children, endured several miscarriages, and was now of ruddy complexion and ample girth. Evidence of Dickens's view of his wife's domestic and maternal capacities is the fact that Georgina Hogarth managed the household since 1842, and combined the roles of nurse and teacher to the Dickens children. The novelist himself did most of the shopping.15 Nevertheless, the animosity, depth and strength of his feelings are quite startling. His alienation from his Catherine certainly encouraged him to embark on public reading tours of his works. Some idea of the state of his mind and emotions may be gauged from this letter: "I believe that no two people were ever created, with such an impossibility of interest, sympathy, confidence, sentiment, tender union of any kind between them, as there is between my wife and me. It is an immense misfortune to her -- it is an immense misfortune to me -- but Nature has put an insurmountable barrier between us, which never in this world can be thrown down. ...she is the only person whom I have ever known with whom I could not get on somehow or other, and in communicating with whom I could find some way to come to some kind of interest. You know that I have many compulsive faults which often belong to my impulsive way of life and exercise of fancy; but I am very patient and considerate at heart, and would have beaten out a better journey's end than we have come to, if I could..." He even went so far as to imply that Catherine had shown little real affection for the children: "...she has never attached one of them to herself, nor played with them in infancy, never
15

Ford, Boris, The New Pelican Guide to English Literature, Penguin Books, London, 1991, vol VI, From Dickens

to Hardy, p.124

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attracted their confidence, as they have grown older, never presented herself before them in the aspect of a mother.... Mary and Katey (whose dispositions are of the gentlest and most affectionate conceivable) harden into stone figures of girls when they can be got to go near her, and have their hearts shut up in her presence as if they were closed by some horrid spring.... It is her misery to live in some fatal atmosphere which slays every one to whom she should be dearest". He was clearly madly in love with Ellen, and disaffected with Catherine. Rumours began that Ellen had become his mistress. He was furious. Dickens bought a bracelet for Ellen Ternan, which was delivered by mistake to Catherine Dickens. Kate Dickens found her mother in tears after Dickens had requested she visit Ellen Ternan. Kate told her not to go. But she did. They would have to part. Dickens suggested Catherine go and live at Gad's Hill, while he stayed in London. She could come to town, when he wanted to stay in the country. She declined the arrangement. He suggested she live in France. She declined. She should live upstairs in Tavistock House and he would live in the lower floors. She refused. They agreed to separate in June.16 During this period, whilst pondering about giving public readings for his own profit, Dickens was approached by Great Ormond Street Hospital to help it survive its first major financial crisis through a charitable appeal. His 'Drooping Buds' essay in Household Words earlier in 3 April 1852 was considered by the hospital's founders to have been the catalyst for the hospital's success. Dickens, whose philanthropy was well-known, was asked by his friend, the hospital's founder Charles West, to preside and he threw himself into the task, heart and soul.Dickens's public readings secured sufficient funds for an endowment to put the hospital on a sound financial footing one of 9 February 1858 alone raised 3,000. After separating from Catherine, Dickens undertook a series of hugely popular and remunerative reading tours which, together with his journalism, were to absorb most of his creative energies for the next decade, in which he was to write only two more novels. His first reading tour, lasting from April 1858 to February 1859, consisted of 129 appearances in 49 different towns throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. Dickens's continued fascination with the theatrical world was written into the theatre scenes in Nicholas Nickleby, but more

16

Cartianu, Ana, op.cit, p41.

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importantly he found an outlet in public readings. In 1866, he undertook a series of public readings in England and Scotland, with more the following year in England and Ireland. Major works, A Tale of Two Cities (1859); and Great Expectations (1861) soon followed and were resounding successes. During this time he was also the publisher and editor of, and a major contributor to, the journals Household Words (18501859) and All the Year Round (18581870). In early September 1860, in a field behind Gad's Hill, Dickens made a great bonfire of almost his entire correspondenceonly those letters on business matters were spared. Since Ellen Ternan also destroyed all of his letters to her, the extent of the affair between the two remains speculative. In the 1930s, Thomas Wright recounted that Ternan had unburdened herself with a Canon Benham, and gave currency to rumours they had been lovers. That the two had a son who died in infancy was alleged by Dickens's daughter, Kate Perugini, whom Gladys Storey had interviewed before her death in 1929, and published her account in Dickens and Daughter, although no contemporary evidence exists. On his death, Dickens settled an annuity on Ternan which made her a financially independent woman. Claire Tomalin's book, The Invisible Woman, argues that Ternan lived with Dickens secretly for the last 13 years of his life. The book was subsequently turned into a play, Little Nell, by Simon Gray. On 9 June 1865, while returning from Paris with Ternan, Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash. The first seven carriages of the train plunged off a cast iron bridge that was under repair. The only first-class carriage to remain on the track was the one in which Dickens was travelling. Before rescuers arrived, Dickens tended and comforted the wounded and the dying with a flask of brandy and a hat refreshed with water and saved some lives. Before leaving, he remembered the unfinished manuscript for Our Mutual Friend, and he returned to his carriage to retrieve it. Dickens later used this experience as material for his short ghost story, "The Signal-Man", in which the central character has a premonition of his own death in a rail crash. He also based the story on several previous rail accidents, such as the Clayton Tunnel rail crash of 1861. Dickens managed to avoid an appearance at the inquest to avoid disclosing that he had been travelling with Ternan and her mother, which would have caused a scandal. Although physically unharmed, Dickens never really recovered from the trauma of the Staplehurst crash,

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and his normally prolific writing shrank to completing Our Mutual Friend and starting the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood. On 9 November 1867, Dickens sailed from Liverpool for his second American reading tour. Landing at Boston, he devoted the rest of the month to a round of dinners with such notables as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his American publisher James Thomas Fields. In early December, the readings beganhe was to perform 76 readings, netting 19,000, from December 1867 to April 1868 and Dickens spent the month shuttling between Boston and New York, where alone he gave 22 readings at Steinway Hall for this period. Although he had started to suffer from what he called the "true American catarrh", he kept to a schedule that would have challenged a much younger man, even managing to squeeze in some sleighing in Central Park. During his travels, he saw a significant change in the people and the circumstances of America. His final appearance was at a banquet the American Press held in his honors at Delmonico's on 18 April, when he promised never to denounce America again. By the end of the tour, the author could hardly manage solid food, subsisting on champagne and eggs beaten in sherry. On 23 April, he boarded his ship to return to Britain, barely escaping a Federal Tax Lien against the proceeds of his lecture tour. There is some evidence that Ellen Ternan lived in France soon after the Dickenss marriage broke up, that she accompanied the novelist at official visits to Paris and that he frequently visited her in France. It has even been suggested that she secretly gave birth to his child. His son Charles is reported to have said, "There was a child, but it died". (There is evidence of a second child born in 1867, which lived only a week). What is incontrovertible is the fact that Ellen returned with him to England in June and was on the train to London with him when there was a serious railway accident on 9 June 1865 at Staplehurst in Kent, where the line was under repair. Several passengers were injured and a few killed. Dickens was out of his carriage among them immediately, helping and comforting victims as well as possible. Having done all that he could he suddenly remembered he had left the next number of Our Mutual Friend in his compartment, so he returned to fetch it. He seemed cool and collected, but in fact was very badly shaken. When he returned to Gad's Hill he was still in shock. For a month afterwards he seemed unable to recover his old spirits and his pulse was weak and he was in low spirits. He found writing very difficult, and was faint and sick by turns. He instructed his servant to take presents 29

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and comfort in various forms to Ellen:"Take Miss Ellen tomorrow morning, a little basket of fresh fruit, a jar of clotted cream.... and a chicken, a pair of pigeons, or some nice little bird. Also on Wednesday morning, and on Friday morning, take her some other things of the same sort -making a little variety each day". He could not bear to travel on the railway. In fact, he probably never recovered from trauma of this accident. He gradually forced himself to travel by rail again, using only slow trains at first, but eventually back to the normal schedule of rail transport. But even then, when the train went over points, or jolted during the journey, he turned white, shook and sweated, his spirits only returning after a dram of brandy. The accident marked him for the remainder of his life. There is evidence that Dickens and Ellen continued their relationship and that he took various addresses with her in Peckham and Slough. The final monthly episode of Our Mutual Friend appeared in November 1865. In the spring 1866, despite his obviously failing health, he embarked on another reading tour. He also read in Scotland and extensively in the USA. The strain on him was considerable, and his health further suffered.17 He arrived back in England on 1 May 1868. He decided while he was still in America that when he returned he would give a series of Farewell Readings in England, Scotland, and Ireland.. He managed, of a contracted 100 readings, to deliver 75 in the provinces, with a further 12 in London. His association with Ellen Ternan continued, he visited her regularly. This relationship continued for twelve years, though not a great deal was really known about it until quite recently, when some secrets came to light, revealed almost in the manner of Dickens's fiction. Some information was revealed in a book, Dickens and Daughter 1939, written by Gladys Storey, a friend of Dickens's daughter Kate. Scholars tended to regard it with suspicion, and rumoured that it was based on hearsay. When Gladys Storey died in 1978, papers and diaries were found in an old wardrobe. These were handed to the Dickens House Museum, in Doughty Street. They reveal that Dickens kept a house in Peckham for Ellen, with two servants, and that in a conversation with novelist's son, Sir Henry Dickens, it is revealed that there was a son, who died in infancy. A much fuller picture of Dickens association with Ellen has therefore become possible. As he pressed on he was affected by giddiness and fits of paralysis and collapsed on 22 April 1869, at Preston in Lancashire, and on doctor's advice, the tour was cancelled. After
17

Ackroyd, Peter, op.cit, p.83.

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further provincial readings were cancelled, he began work on his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was fashionable in the 1860s to 'do the slums' and, in company, Dickens visited opium dens in Shadwell, where he witnessed an elderly addict known as "Laskar Sal", who formed the model for the "Opium Sal" subsequently featured in his mystery novel , Edwin Drood18. When he had regained sufficient strength, Dickens arranged, with medical approval, for a final series of readings at least partially to make up to his sponsors what they had lost due to his illness. There were to be 12 performances, running between 11 January and 15 March 1870, the last taking place at 8:00 pm at St. James's Hall in London. Although in grave health by this time, he read A Christmas Carol and The Trial from Pickwick. On 2 May, he made his last public appearance at a Royal Academy Banquet in the presence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, paying a special tribute on the death of his friend, illustrator Daniel Maclise. On 8 June 1870, Dickens suffered another stroke at his home after a full day's work on Edwin Drood. He never regained consciousness, and the next day, on 9 June, five years to the day after the Staplehurst rail crash, he died at Gad's Hill Place. Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral "in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner," he was laid to rest in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: "To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England's most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England's greatest writers is lost to the world." His last words were: "On the ground", in response to his sister-in-law Georgina's request that he lie down. In his will he left Ellen Ternan 1,000 free of legacy duty, Georgina Hogarth 8,000 and the interest upon a similar sum to Catherine, Mary was to get 1,000 and an annuity of 300, if she remained single, should she marry her income was to be divided equally among his surviving children, who were equally to share the rest of his estate. Charlie was to have his library and other papers, his gold watch and manuscripts of his books went to Forster. There was a rather chill paragraph, which underscored the nature of separation:

18

Ibidem, p. 136

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"I desire here simply to record the fact that my wife, since our separation by consent, has been in the receipt from me of an annual income of 600, while all the great charges of a numerous and expensive family have devolved wholly upon myself". On Sunday, 19 June 1870, five days after Dickens was buried in the Abbey, Dean Arthur Penrhyn Stanley delivered a memorial elegy, lauding "the genial and loving humorist whom we now mourn", for showing by his own example: "that even in dealing with the darkest scenes and the most degraded characters, genius could still be clean, and mirth could be innocent." Pointing to the fresh flowers that adorned the novelist's grave, Stanley assured those present that "the spot would thenceforth be a sacred one with both the New World and the Old, as that of the representative of literature, not of this island only, but of all who speak our English tongue. Georgina Hogarth, who had more or less run the Dickens household after Catherine left, did her best to salvage Dickens's personal reputation and maintaining his memory. With Mamie Dickens she edited a selection of his letters for publication. She died in 1917. What was her attitude to the Ellen Ternan Affair? Had the novelist only exchanged one heartache for another? One twentieth century biographer thought so. Nelly might well have been dazzled by Dickenss fame, flattered by his admiration and generosity but apparently she did not respond with the whole-hearted devotion he craved. He wanted a permanent relationship: Ellen, if she had submitted to his advances after the separation, seems to have done so coldly and with a worried sense of guilt. There has, somewhat inevitably, been much discussion as to the influence of the Ternan affair on Dickenss fiction. According to E.D.H. Johnson it influenced the naming of the heroines of the last three novels, Estella in Great Expectations, Bella Wilfer in Our Mutual Friend and Helena Landless in Edwin Drood. And then we go on to ask whether the willful and imperious ways of Estella and Bella represent a noteworthy departure from the earlier ideal of saintly meekness embodied in Florence Dombey, Agnes Wickfield, Esther Summerson, and Amy Dorrit? Even further, its suggested that there can be no mistaking that Dickens' later fiction explores sexual passion with an intensity and perceptiveness not shown before.

2.2 Charles Dickens`s work


Charles Dickens was one of the most popular writers of the Victorian age. Because of his ability to combine comedy, pathos and social satire in his novels, he gained thousands of 32

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contemporary readers and many of his characters, such as Mr. Micawber, Mr. Pickwich, Quilp or Uriah Heep, etc. have entered the British national consciousness. Dickenss was a writer that would address the entire nation and he was convinced that every writer should be like that so he did not agree with Henry James statement that "the greater the writer, the smaller the audience" 19 , or with the aesthetes. He wrote for a large audience wanting to be read and understood, corresponding and collaborating with the public. The feelings he had for a certain category of people, the happy endings of his novels are because of the literary preferences of his age. Dickens believed in the ethical and political potential of literature, and the novel in particular, and he treated his fiction as a springboard for debates about moral and social reform. In his novels of social analysis Dickens became an outspoken critic of unjust economic and social conditions. His deeply-felt social commentaries helped raise the collective awareness of the reading public. Dickens contributed significantly to the emergence of public opinion which was gaining an increasing influence on the decisions of the authorities. Indirectly, he contributed to a series of legal reforms, including the abolition of the inhumane imprisonment for debts, purification of the Magistrates courts, a better management of criminal prisons, and the restriction of the capital punishment. His writing style is marked by a profuse linguistic creativity. Satire, flourishing in his gift for caricature is his forte. An early reviewer compared him to Hogarth for his keen practical sense of the ludicrous side of life, though his acclaimed mastery of varieties of class idiom may in fact mirror the conventions of contemporary popular theatre. Dickens worked intensively on developing arresting names for his characters that would reverberate with associations for his readers, and assist the development of motifs in the storyline, giving what one critic calls an "allegorical impetus" to the novels' meanings. To cite one of numerous examples, the name Mr. Murdstone in David Copperfield conjures up twin allusions to "murder" and stony coldness. His literary style is also a mixture of fantasyand realism. His satires of British aristocratic snobbery he calls one character the "Noble Refrigerator"are often popular. Comparing orphans to stocks and shares, people to tug boats, or dinner-party guests to furniture are just some of Dickens's acclaimed flights of fancy.
19

Cartianu, Ana, Istoria literaturii engleze. Secolul al XIX-lea. Realismul critic, Ed. de Stat Didactic i Pedagogic,

Bucureti, 1961, p.27.

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The author worked closely with his illustrators, supplying them with a summary of the work at the outset and thus ensuring that his characters and settings were exactly how he envisioned them. He would brief the illustrator on plans for each month's instalment so that work could begin before he wrote them. Marcus Stone, illustrator of Our Mutual Friend, recalled that the author was always "ready to describe down to the minutest details the personal characteristics, and ... life-history of the creations of his fancy. Dickens's biographer Claire Tomalin regards him as the greatest creator of character in English fiction after Shakespeare. Dickensian characters, especially so because of their typically whimsical names, are amongst the most memorable in English literature. The likes of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, Oliver Twist, The Artful Dodger, Fagin, Bill Sikes, Pip,Miss Havisham, Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, David Copperfield, Mr.

Micawber, Abel Magwitch, Daniel Quilp, Samuel Pickwick,Wackford Squeers, Uriah Heep are so well known as to be part and parcel of British culture, and in some cases have passed into ordinary language: a scrooge, for example, is a miser. His characters were often so memorable that they took on a life of their own outside his books. Gamp became a slang expression for an umbrella from the character Mrs Gamp and Pickwickian, Pecksniffian, and Gradgrind all entered dictionaries due to Dickens's original portraits of such characters who were quixotic, hypocritical, or vapidly factual. Many were drawn from real life: Mrs Nickleby is based on his mother, though she didn't recognize herself in the portrait, just as Mr Micawber is constructed from aspects of his father's 'rhetorical exuberance': Harold Skimpole in Bleak House, is based on James Henry Leigh Hunt: his wife's dwarfish chiropodist recognized herself in Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield. Perhaps Dickens's impressions on his meeting with Hans Christian Andersen informed the delineation of Uriah Heep. Authors frequently draw their portraits of characters from people they have known in real life.David Copperfield is regarded as strongly autobiographical. The scenes in Bleak House of interminable court cases and legal arguments reflect Dickens's experiences as law clerk and court reporter, and in particular his direct experience of the law's procedural delay during 1844 when he sued publishers in Chancery for breach of copyright. Dickens's father was sent to prison for debt, and this became a common theme in many of his books, with the detailed depiction of life in the Marshalsea prison in Little Dorrit resulting from Dickens's own experiences of the 34

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institution.[ Lucy Stroughill, a childhood sweetheart may have affected several of Dickens's portraits of girls such as Little Em'ly in David Copperfield and Lucie Manette in A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens may have drawn on his childhood experiences, but he was also ashamed of them and would not reveal that this was where he gathered his realistic accounts of squalor. Very few knew the details of his early life until six years after his death when John Forster published a biography on which Dickens had collaborated. Though Skimpole brutally sends up Leigh Hunt, some critics have detected in his portrait features of Dickens's own character, which he sought to exorcise by self-parody.20 Most of Dickens's major novels were first written in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as Master Humphrey's Clock andHousehold Words, later reprinted in book form. These instalments made the stories cheap, accessible and the series of regular cliff-hangers made each new episode widely anticipated. When The Old Curiosity Shop was being serialized, American fans even waited at the docks in New York, shouting out to the crew of an incoming ship, "Is little Nell dead?" Part of Dickens's great talent was to incorporate this episodic writing style but still end up with a coherent novel at the end. Another important impact of Dickens's episodic writing style resulted from his exposure to the opinions of his readers and friends. His friend Forster had a significant hand, reviewing his drafts, that went beyond matters of punctation. He toned down melodramatic and sensationalist exaggerations, cut long passages, (such as the episode of Quilp's drowning inThe Old Curiosity Shop), and made suggestions about plot and character. It was he who suggested that Charley Bates should be redeemed in Oliver Twist. Dickens had not thought of killing Little Nell, and it was Forster who advised him to entertain this possibility as necessary to his conception of the heroine. Dickens's novels were, among other things, works of social commentary. He was a fierce critic of the poverty and social stratification of Victorian society. In a New York address, he expressed his belief that, "Virtue shows quite as well in rags and patches as she does in purple and fine linen".Dickens's second novel, Oliver Twist (1839), shocked readers with its images of poverty and crime: it destroyed middle class polemics about criminals, making any pretence to ignorance about what poverty entailed impossible.

20

Ibidem, p. 75-76

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Dickens is often described as using 'idealised' characters and highly sentimental scenes to contrast with his caricatures and the ugly social truths he reveals. The story of Nell Trent in The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) was received as extraordinarily moving by contemporary readers but viewed as ludicrously sentimental by Oscar Wilde. "You would need to have a heart of stone", he declared in one of his famous witticisms, "not to laugh at the death of little Nell." G. K. Chesterton, stating that "It is not the death of little Nell, but the life of little Nell, that I object to", argued that the maudlin effect of his description of her life owed much to the gregarious nature of Dickens's grief, his 'despotic' use of people's feelings to move them to tears in works like this. The question as to whether Charles Dickens belongs to the tradition of the sentimental novel is debatable. Valerie Purton in her recent Dickens and the Sentimental Tradition, sees him continuing aspects of this tradition, and argues that his "sentimental scenes and characters [are] as crucial to the overall power of the novels as his darker or comic figures and scenes", and that "Dombey and Son is [ ... ] Dickens's greatest triumph in the sentimentalist tradition". However, the Encyclopdia Britannica online comments, that despite "patches of emotional excess", such as the reported death of Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (1843), "Dickens cannot really be termed a sentimental novelist". In Oliver Twist Dickens provides readers with an idealised portrait of a boy so inherently and unrealistically 'good' that his values are never subverted by either brutal orphanages or coerced involvement in a gang of young pickpockets. While later novels also centre on idealised characters (Esther Summerson in Bleak House and Amy Dorrit in Little Dorrit), this idealism serves only to highlight Dickens's goal of poignant social commentary. Many of his novels are concerned with social realism, focusing on mechanisms of social control that direct people's lives (for instance, factory networks in Hard Times and hypocritical exclusionary class codes in Our Mutual Friend). Dickens's fiction, reflecting what he believed to be true of his own life, makes frequent use of coincidence, either for comic effect or to emphasize the idea of providence. Oliver Twist turns out to be the lost nephew of the upper-class family that randomly rescues him from the dangers of the pickpocket group. Such coincidences are a staple of 18thcentury picaresque novels, such as Henry Fielding's Tom Jones that Dickens enjoyed reading as a youth.21
21

Dickens, Charles, Oliver Twist, Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow, 1955, p. 3

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37