Characteristics of Charles Dickens Novels

What are the qualities of dickens as a novelist?

Among the Victorian novelists, Charles Dickens was the most representative of the age. He is a great master in prose literature. He can be compared and contrasted with Tennyson for both of them truly represent the age. They can be regarded as the newspaper of the age Dickens's novels deal with London life.

In his portrayal of London life, there is always serious and trifling affairs. The incidents are loosely connected with both comic/humorous and serious incidents. Charles Dickens was assiduous in catering for his public. The novels he has written are categorised as a picaresque novel. Dickens's novel include -

1. The Pick Wick Papers
2. Oliver Twist
3. The Old Curiosity Shop
4. A Tale of Two Cities
5. David Copperfield
6. Great Expectations
7. Our Mutual Friends
8. Bleak House
9. Hard Times etc.

These novels earned him popularity as one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era. Dickens has shown interest in social reformation. His novel though embodies no particular social or political theory, he took himself seriously as a social reformer. His novels aroused public interest in many of the evils of his days. Most of his works deal with the social problems of the age. The class consciousness becomes apparent in his novel. No English novelist excels Dickens in the variety of characters and situations. 
Characteristics of Charles Dickens Novels
He creates for us a whole world of people and in his world, he is happy with the persons of lower and middle ranks of life, like those who frequent the neighbourhood of London. Dickens is witty and humorous in the creation of his characters. He could describe the horrible death and melodramatic characters like Madam Defarge in ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’

Charles Dickens is widely regarded as one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era. Some of the qualities that make him a masterful novelist are:

Rich and vivid characters: Dickens' characters are often larger than life, with distinctive quirks and personalities that make them memorable. He was skilled at creating characters that were sympathetic and relatable, even if they were flawed or morally ambiguous. For example, characters like Ebenezer Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol" or Pip from "Great Expectations" are complex and multidimensional, with both good and bad traits.

Detailed settings: Dickens was known for his ability to create atmospheric and immersive settings that transport readers to another time and place. He used his descriptions of settings to set the mood of his stories and to create a sense of realism. For example, the foggy streets of London in "Bleak House" or the gritty factories and workhouses in "Oliver Twist" are vividly depicted.

Social commentary: Dickens was passionate about social justice and used his novels as a platform to critique the injustices and inequalities of Victorian society. He often wrote about poverty, social class, and the mistreatment of children and workers. His novels were instrumental in raising awareness about these issues and helping to bring about social change.

Humor: Dickens had a sharp wit and a talent for satire that he used to poke fun at the absurdities of Victorian society. He often created humorous characters and situations that provided comic relief from the serious themes of his novels. For example, the comical Mr. Micawber from "David Copperfield" or the bumbling Mr. Bumble from "Oliver Twist" are memorable characters that provide comic relief.

Plot twists and turns: Dickens was a master of creating intricate plots that kept readers engaged and guessing until the very end. He was skilled at weaving together multiple storylines and creating unexpected plot twists and turns. For example, the revelation of the true identity of Estella's father in "Great Expectations" or the surprising revelation of the murderer in "Oliver Twist" are examples of the plot twists that Dickens was known for.

Emotionally powerful storytelling: Dickens was a master of creating stories that tugged at the heartstrings and evoked strong emotions in readers. His novels often dealt with themes of love, loss, redemption, and forgiveness, and he had a talent for creating powerful and memorable scenes. For example, the death of Little Nell in "The Old Curiosity Shop" or the reunion of Pip and Estella in "Great Expectations" are emotionally charged scenes that stay with readers long after the novel is finished.

His Popularity

At the age of twenty-six, Dickens was a popular author. This was a happy state of affairs for him, and to his books, it served as an ardent stimulus But there were attendant disadvantages. The demand for his novels was so enormous that it often led to hasty and ill-considered work to the crudity of plot, to the unreality of characters, and to the looseness of style.

It led also to the pernicious habit of issuing the stories in parts. This in turn resulted in much padding and in lopsidedness of construction. The marvellous thing is that with so strong a temptation to slop-work he created books that were so rich and enduring.

Charles Dickens Interest in Social Reform

Though Dickens's works embody no systematic social or political theory, from the first he took himself very seriously as a social reformer. His novels aroused public interest in many of the evils of his day, among them boarding schools, in Nicholas Nickleby, the workhouses, in Oliver Twist the new manufacturing system, in Hard Times, and the Court of Chancery, in Bleak House.

Deference to the fastidiousness of his public excluded the crudest realism from his pictures of poverty and be seems to have built his hopes for improvement on the spread of the spirit of kindness rather than upon political upheaval or formal legislation. In more ways than one, his work suffered from his preoccupation with social problems. To it can largely be attributed to the poetic justice of the conclusions of many of his novels the exaggeration of such characters as the Gradgrinds, and the sentimental pictures of the poorer classes.

Charles Dickens Imagination

No English novelist excels Dickens in the multiplicity of his characters and situations. Pickwick Papers, the first of the novels, teems with characters, some of them finely portrayed, and in mere numbers, the supply is maintained to the very end of his life. He creates for us a whole world of people. In this world, he is most at home with persons of the lower and middle ranks of life, especially those who frequent the neighbourhood of London.

Charles Dickens Humour and Pathos

It is very likely that the reputation of Dickens will be maintained chiefly as a humorist. His humour is broad, humane, and creative. It gives us such real immortals as Mr Pickwick, Mrs Gamp, Mr Micawber, and Sam Weller-typical inhabitants of the Dickensian sphere, and worthy of a place in any literary brotherhood.

Charles Dickens's humour is not very subtle, but it goes deep, and expression, it is free and vivacious. Dickens satire is a skill to develop into mere burlesque, as it does when he deals with Mr Stiggins and Bumble. As for his pathos, in its day it had an appeal that appears amazing to a later generation, whom it strikes cheap and maudlin.

His devices are often third-rate, as when the depend upon such themes as the deaths of little children, which he describes in detail. His genius had little tragic force. He could describe the horrible, as in the death of Bill Sykes; he could be painfully melodramatic, as in characters like Rosa Dartle and Madame Defarge; but he seems to have been unable to command the simplicity of real tragic greatness.

Charles Dickens mannerisms

Charles Dickens mannerisms are many, and they do not make for good in his novels. It has often been pointed out that his characters are created not ‘in the round’, but ‘in the flat.’ Each represents one mood, one turn of phrase. Uriah Heep is ‘humble,’ Barkis is ‘willin’. In this fashion, his characters become associated with catch-phrases, like the personages in inferior drama. Dickens's partiality for the drama is also seen in the staginess of his scenes and plots.

Charles Dickens Style

In time his style became mannered also. At its best, it is neither scholarly nor polished, but it is clear, rapid, and workmanlike, the style of the working journalist. In the early books, it is sometimes trivial with puns, Cockneyisms and tiresome circumlocutions. This heavy handedness of phrase remained with him all his life.

In his more aspiring flights, in particular in his deeply pathetic passages, he adopted a lyrical style, a kind of verse-in-prose, that is blank verse slightly disguised.

In summary, Dickens' qualities as a novelist include his rich and vivid characters, detailed settings, social commentary, humor, plot twists and turns, and emotionally powerful storytelling. These qualities have made him a beloved and influential writer whose works continue to resonate with readers today.
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