The Trials And Tribulations On Charles Dickens

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so." (Bibliomania Online)

The Victorian era, 1837-1901,was an era of several unsettling social developments that forced writers more than ever before to take positions on the immediate issues animating the rest of society. Although romantic forms of expression in poetry and prose continued to dominate English literature throughout much of the century, the attention of many writers was directed, sometimes passionately, to such issues as the growth of English democracy, the education of the masses, the progress of industrial enterprise and the consequent rise of a materialistic philosophy, and the plight of the newly industrialized worker. In addition, the unsettling of religious belief by new advances in science, particularly the theory of evolution and the historical study of the Bible, drew other writers away from the immemorial subjects of literature into considerations of problems of faith and truth. Charles Dickens is the most widely read Victorian novelist. Dickens appealed to social consciousness to overcome social misery. His immense popularity gave importance to his attacks on the abuses of the law-courts and of schools whose object was not the education of the children but the enrichment of the proprietors. Through Dickens Literature he questioned authority, examined the lives of the undistinguised individuals, and he challenged the idea that mone can by happiness. As bella Wilfer Says in Our mutual friend "society given over to the pursuit of money, money, money, and what money can make of life." (Smith 78)
Born in Portsmouth, England, on February 7, 1812, the second of John and Elizabeth Dickens\'s eight children, Charles was raised with the assumption that he would receive an education and, if he worked hard, might some day come to live at Gad\'s Hill Place, the finest house on the main road between Rochester and Gravesend (Smith 196). John Dickens, on whom Mr. Micawber is based, moved the family to London in 1823, fell into financial disaster, was arrested for debt and imprisoned in the Marshalsea Debtors\' Prison ( Kaplan 109). Charles was forced to go to work at Warren\'s Blacking Factory at Hungerford Stairs labeling bottles. In his Life of Charles Dickens, John Forster shares the fragment of Dickens\'s autobiography upon which David Copperfield\'s Murdstone and Grinby experiences are based:

"It is wonderful to me how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age. It is wonderful to me, that, even after my descent into the poor little drudge I had been since we came to London, no one had compassion on me -- a child of singular abilities, quick, eager, delicate, and soon hurt, bodily or mentally -- to suggest that something might have been spared, as certainly it might have been, to place me at any common school. Our friends, I take it, were tired out. No one made any sign. My father and mother were quite satisfied. They could hardly have been more so, if I had been twenty years of age, distinguished at a grammar-school, and going to Cambridge."( Ackroyd, 388)

Dickens himself did not know how long this ordeal lasted, "whether for a year, or much more, or less"; surely it must have seemed as if it would last forever to this sensitive twelve-year-old boy and it so seared his psyche that Dickens the man never "until I impart it to this paper [a full quarter century later], in any burst of confidence to anyone, my own wife not excepted, raised the curtain I then dropped, thank God." (Ackroyd, 388)
Dickens was able to continue his education after his father received a legacy from a relative and was released from the Marshalsea. Charles attended Wellington House Academy from 1824 to 1826 before taking work as a clerk in Gray\'s Inn for two years.