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Charles Dickens - Life and works


Charles Dickens

Life and works

  • Born in 1812 near Pourtsmouth
  • At the age of 12 he worked in a blacking factory, he was very influenced by that
  • He went back to school, he became a parliamentary report and then a journalist
  • His most famous work are: Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, David Copperfiel 717i88h d, Hard Times and Great Expectasions

"Hard Times"


  • Thomas Gradgrind is a teacher, he believes in facts and figures.
  • He lives in Coketown (a fantastic town in the north of England_coke is a type of coal)
  • Their children have been educated in a rational way, he has stopped all their imaginative impulses, as he does at school
  • In his class there is Sissy Jupe, his father is a circus worker (the circus is in contrast with Thomas Gradgrind)
  • Louisa, his daughter, marries Bounderby, a factory owner, for whom her brother works, but she is unhappy and when Harthouse, a politician, tries to seduce her, she goes to Thomas to ask him protection
  • Gradgrind has a crise of values
  • Tom robs his employer and he's forced to leave the country.


  • Critique of indusrtial society and its effects
  • Its sense of humor is a very modern aspect
  • Pathos and sentimentality are representative of the feeling which was common in the Victorian age
  • Many descriptions become a symbol of the type of life they represent


Probably the character of Gradgrind is based on Utilitarian leadr Mill, transformed through comic exaggeration. Dickens thought that Utilitarism left no space for human qualities and so he didn't agree with its conception of human nature.

"Great expectations"


  • The protagonist and the narrator is Pip, who lives with his sister and her husband Gargery.
  • He meets a strange lady, Miss Havisham who was abandoned by her man in their bridal night
  • She has educated her ward Estella to consider beauty a way for torturing men. This is such as Miss Havisham's revenge. Pip is in love with Estella.
  • Pip receives money from an anonymous benefactor, and he thinks about Miss Havisham, but later he finds out that his benefactor is Magwitch.
  • Magwitch is a criminal that Pip had heleped when he was just a kid. Pip is now in London, where he losts all his money
  • He comes back home and he's finally reunited with Estella who has left her husband.


As in other Dickens' works, also in Great Expectations there are many symbolic characters:

Gargery can be seen as humanity uncontaminated by wealth

Miss Havisham is a victim and an agent of heartlessness of a society based on money

Magwitch is a typical criminal of the victorian age, nothing is told about his life, but he wins the pip's and the reader's sympathy.

"Great expectations" is a typical Bildungsroman, in which the protagonist (often orphan) has to reinvent himself, and he speaks about his indipendent growth to self- succiency and self- knowledge

The word "expectations" has both financial and economical connotations.

The passage we've read is about the Victorian idea about respectability of wealth: Magwitch going in Australia becomes a rich benefactor and this symbolises the origins of Britain.


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