Nicholas Nickleby –

Peter Ackroyd, in his ground breaking biography of Charles Dickens, says that Nicholas Nickleby isperhaps the funniest novel in the English language. The complete title of the novel is perhaps a bit of a mouthful,The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, containing a Faithful Account of the Fortunes, Misfortunes, Uprisings, Downfallings and Complete Career of the Nickleby Family.It was published, as his previous novels had been, in monthly installments, between 1838 and 1839, and the last part was again a double issue Whilst Dickens was writing this he was between 26 and 27 years of age, and also putting the final touches to his enormously successfulOliver TwistSome of the plot elements, and Dickens s social criticisms, are very much in the vein ofOliver Twist Yet in many ways the novel is similar to his first installment novel,The Pickwick PapersIt has a comic rather than a tragic feel, and is certainly lightweight and humorous thanOliver TwistIt could be classed as ironic social satire, pointing up social injustices, while full of Dickens s taste for absurdity.The picaresque style ofThe Pickwick Papersrecalls very much the earlier 18th century fashion for vignettes, such as those written by Henry Fielding Although Nicholas Nickleby is held together by a continuing saga, it is still very episodic subject to shifts in focus, and with such a wealth of characters and subplots that the main thrust of the novel occasionally seems to be lost However, this episodic feel was still a very popular style of the time When it was published the book was an immediate success, further establishing Dickens s reputation Indeed, an engraving of one of the most famous portraits of Dickens, is used as the frontispiece, and is calledthe Nickleby PortraitCharles Dickens sat for this portrait in June 1839, partway through the serialisation of the novel It was by the artist Daniel Maclise, and had been commissioned by Dickens s publishers, Chapman and Hall Nicholas Nickleby is typical of many early English novels, being focused on one person s life, and as such is of a fictional biography than being especially plot driven Unlike his preceding novel,Oliver Twist , the title character of this is already a young man with family responsibilities at the start of the novel His future is very uncertain, due to the death of his father, who had made some poor investments The readers sees that the major conflict in this novel is going to be the struggle of a small family to make their way in the world after suffering a tragic loss To some extent, this is autobiographical The Nickleby family are genteel but impoverished Dickens s own personal struggles and experiences as a young man were similar, since his father had also forfeited his gentility because of financial incompetence In Nicholas Nickleby we are introduced to the protagonist s uncle, Ralph Nickleby, very near the beginning As soon as Ralph comes on the scene we realise this will add spice to the situation For what a miserable old skinflint he is,there was something in his very wrinkles, and in his cold restless eye, which seemed to tell of cunning that would announce itself in spite of him Ralph takes against Nicholas right from the start, apparently purely based on envy, because Nicholas is young, bright and open At this point we realise he is destined to be Nicholas s antagonist And the warning bells begin to ring when we are told that Ralph Nickleby is unscrupulous in his financial dealings, because Nicholas has turned to his uncle for assistance, hoping for support for his mother and sister after the death of his father Very quickly then, we identify Ralph as the villain of the piece And Dickens gives full rein to his talent for inventing over the top characters, who stay in the mind far longer than the details of the story itself Who can forget the grotesque headmaster Wackford Squeers, with his,one eye when the popular prejudice is in favour of two Or Mrs Nickleby with her rapid barrage of discursions which would put Mrs Bennet of Austen sPride and Prejudiceto shame Or the kindly, generous benefactors, the Cheeryble brothers, Charles and Ned, who have built a thriving business on treating others with respect and compassion They address each other asmy dear fellowand not only look and act alike but also dress alike and wear white hats As well as the main characters there are a myriad of minor eccentric characters in this novel, all of whom are a delight Blink and you may miss them The Crummles s family of actors, with their daughter Ninette, the starryInfant Phenomenon , who at the age of ten had,been precisely the same age not perhaps to the full extent of the memory of the oldest inhabitant, but certainly for five good years But she had been kept up late every night, and put upon an unlimited allowance of gin and water from infancy, to prevent her growing tall, and perhaps this system of training had produced in the infant phenomenon these additional phenomena The other actors, unsurprisingly, were none too keen on her privileged position The leading man Mr Folair termed her theInfernal PhenomenonThen there is Mrs Mantalini, the astute business woman who owns a dressmaking and millinery shop, for whom Nicholas s sister Kate is sent to work as a seamstress, and her husband, a foppish fellow with extravagent tastes, given to histrionics and repeated attempts to kill himself There is the fun loving but ultimately self seeking Kenwigs family, the revolting, lusting, scheming old man Arthur Gride, denounced as a wretch and a villain, and the dastardly nobleman whom we all want to boo, Sir Mulberry Hawk The names too are typical Dickens whimsy, chosen with an eye to amuse and appealDotheboys Hall, the vile school where the boys were well and truly done to , with Wackford Squeers as its headmaster, overkeen on whacking his pupils Miss Knag the spiteful forewoman of the dressmakers and milliners There is Lord Frederick Verisoft soft of brainweak and silly , his friend the Honourable Mr Snobb, and Sir Mulberry Hawkthe most knowing card in the packwho treats everyone, including his friends , as his prey The Cheeryble brothers now who can read their name without smiling Mrs Wititterly who seems to witter a lot and hasan air of sweet insipidityThere is such a superfluity of names, some in characters who shine brightly for a paragraph or two, and then disappear without trace There is Mr Crowl, whoutters a low querulous growl , and perhaps the best of the lot, Sir Tumley Snuffim, who is perhaps not such a good doctor if his patients snuff it All the episodes with these larger than life characters seem tailor made for the stage Many of the speeches seem to cry out for an actor s ringing declamation on stage in a 19th century melodrama Nicholas s way of talking is very stilted, and sadly, this stiff formal kind of language sometimes does alienate the modern reader, such as this, a simple acquiescence,It s not in my nature to resist any entreaty, unless it is to do something positively wrong and, beyond a feeling of pride, I know nothing which should prevent my doing this I know nobody here, and nobody knows me So be it then I yield Dickens does indulge his love of all things theatrical in this novel, with a large part of the action being devoted to scenes in Portsmouth, where Nickleby akaMr Johnsonboth writes and performs in the acting troupes, much as Dickens himself did Perhaps this was deliberately so, because he dedicates it to his friend, the distinguished actor and theatre director William Macready You can see Dickens s love of the theatre in almost every scene here But this makes the tragic scenes so much powerful, because of the contrasting comic scenes And who, out of the general reading population of the time, would really have stayed with a piece of tragic literature about their contemporaries including the poorest of them all had it not been made so hugely entertaining It s a real rarity for the time, for an author to focus on the lives of such poor people Noggs and Smike are fully developed characters, but few of Dickens s contemporaries Thackeray for instance would bother with them Dickens is quite deliberately appealing to the common people He has the common touch and Trollope s disparaging nickname for him ofMr Popular Sentimentis perhaps not given without a certain amount of malicious envy The characters here are very much larger than life characters, but the main characters we are following are sensitively drawn Madeline Bray is an heroic, brave character, beautiful and self sacrificing, going through agonies of mind as she stays loyal to her father depite his despicable deeds The reader is positively willing for her to have a good end The character of Smike, the ex Dotheboys Hall boy, is portrayed in such an affecting way, without resort to sentiment, that Dickens manages to tug at our heart strings whenever he comes into the action Then there are those others such as Newman Noggs, whom we know has fallen into the service and clutches of Ralph Nickleby through his own weakness for drink Yet throughout we are willing him to somehow escape, recognising that here is a man of worth and principle He is virtually a guardian angel to Nicholas, because of his benevolence and integrity Dickens makes it abundantly clear to his readers just who are the goodies, and who are the baddies This is at root an entertainment of a novel, although one very much designed to expose a scandal of the time.For just asOliver Twistwas intended to alert the largest possible audience to the scandal of the workhouses in the light of the recent changes to the Poor Law, Nicholas Nickleby was deliberately written to expose the ugly truth about Yorkshire boarding schools In the preface to the novel Dickens calls Yorkshire schoolmasters,Traders in the avarice, indifference, or imbecility of parents, and the helplessness of children ignorant, sordid, brutal men, to whom few considerate persons would have entrusted the board and lodging of a horse or a dog Then in his second preface, to the 1848 Cheap Edition, he notes that such schools as Dotheboys were common in Yorkshire at the time of writing but had begun to disappear,This story was begun, within a few months after the publication of the completed Pickwick Papers There were, then, a good many cheap Yorkshire schools in existence There are very few now Such then was the power of a Dickens novel to influence popular opinion When a great author of such stature and persuasive ability aimed his satirical voice at one social problem after another, both society and Parliament itself rapidly moved to change things His fiction influenced both public perception and social reform, and this is one of the reasons he is truly a great author.We know that prior to Nicholas Nickleby, Dickens had seen advertisements in the London papers for cheap boarding schools in Yorkshire It was stressed that there wereno holidaysfrom these schools Dickens s antennae must have gone up, as he knew they were a convenient place to dispose of unwanted or illegitimate children During the writing ofOliver TwistDickens and his friend, Hablot Browne who was to illustrate the book had travelled in secret to Yorkshire to investigate these schools in January 1838 There they met William Shaw, the headmaster of Bowes Academy The neglect and maltreatment at this notorious school was responsible for the blindness of several boys, and some actually died as a consequence There is no doubt that Dickens intended the headmaster Wackford Squeers to be a portrayal of William Shaw, and that Dotheboys Hall was Bowes Academy It became so infamous that Bowes Academy , eventually by 1903 became known as Dotheboys Hall Many of the other characters were also based on real life people The character of Miss La Crevy, who befriended the Nickleby family, was based on the actual person, Rosa Emma Drummond, who painted a miniature engraved portrait of Dickens on ivory Dickens had commissioned this, so that he could give it to his fiancee, Catherine Hogarth as an engagement present Like Miss Drummond, Miss La Creevy, was a good natured, middle aged miniature painter, described by Dickens as amincing young lady of fiftyVincent Crummles and his daughterThe Infant Phenomenonwere based on the actor manager T D Davenport and his nine year old prodigy of a daughter, JeanInfant phenomenawere a regular feature of many theatrical shows during the early decades of the nineteenth century Davenport and his daughter appeared on the Portsmouth stage in March 1837 Dickens s own mother, Elizabeth Dickens, was the model for Mrs Nickleby Luckily for Charles she didn t recognise herself in the character In fact she asked someone if they,really believed there ever was such a woman And most surprising and notable of all is that the Cheeryble brothers were based on real life characters too They are based on two benefactors who were brothers, Daniel and William Grant They came from Scotland, but settled in Ramsbottom in Greater Manchester although during Dickens s time, this will have been thought of as part of the county of Lancashire Some of the fine houses they built are still there For instance, St Andrew s Church from 1832 is also known as Grant s Church It was originally consecrated as a Scottish Presbyterian Chapel, with a donation of 5,000 by William Grant The Grant brothers regularly gave money to promising new enterprises and for education, supporting schools, libraries and the charitable institutions, and when homes and farmlands on Speyside were swept away by floods in 1829, gave 100 to swell The Flood Fund Dickens was keen to make sure everyone knew of these remarkable pair This is from his preface, in May, 1848,It may be right to say that there are 2 characters in this book which are drawn from life Those who take an interest in this tale will be glad to learn that the Brothers Cheeryble do live that their liberal charity, their singleness of heart, noble nature and unbounded benevolence are no creatures of the author s brain, but are prompting every day some munificent and generous deed in that town of which they are the pride and honourHe was writing at breakneck speed againOliver Twisthad overlappedThe Pickwick Papersby 10 months, and when he startedNicholas Nickleby ,Oliver Twistwas still a long way from being completed So perhaps the persuasive writing he was so keen on, the social conscience he displayed in his writing in the early part of this novel, feels very familiar, because it was written on the same days as the latter half of Oliver Twist He was also, of course, doing his editing work too Dickens seemed to delight in working under pressure at high speed What the reader takes away from this novel is mainly a memory of the dramatic, eccentric and unique characters, although probably only a fraction of the total proliferation stay with us We may remember the plot too Yet credit should also be given to Dickens s masterly powers of description, which are also very apparent in Nicholas Nickleby Often Dickens will exaggerate for effect, or use personification, or even the pathetic fallacy, where he is keen to convey a mood He is adept at attributing human qualities and emotions to inanimate objects.Here s a wonderful description of Arthur Gride,a little old man, of about seventy or seventy five years of age, of a very lean figure, much bent and slightly twisted He wore such scanty trousers as displayed his shrunken spindle shanks in their full uglinessHis nose and chin were sharp and prominent, his jaws had fallen inwards from loss of teeth, his face was shrivelled and yellow, save where the cheeks were streaked with the colour of a dry winter apple and where his beard had been, there lingered yet a few grey tufts which seemed, like the ragged eyebrows, to denote the badness of the soil from which they sprung The whole air and attitude of the form was one of stealthy cat like obsequiousness the whole expression of the face was concentrated in a wrinkled leer, compounded of cunning, lecherousness, slyness, and avarice And here is his house,an old house, dismal dark and dusty, which seemed to have withered, like himself, and to have grown yellow and shrivelled in hoarding him from the light of day, as he had in hoarding his money Meagre old chairs and tables, of spare and bony make, and hard and cold as misers hearts, were ranged, in grim array, against the gloomy walls attenuated presses, grown lank and lantern jawed in guarding the treasures they enclosed, and tottering, as though from constant fear and dread of thieves, shrunk up in dark corners, whence they cast no shadows on the ground, and seemed to hide and cower from observation Arthur Gride s house, thus seems to take on the aspect of a living creature itself, as though the essence of its inhabitant had oozed into the very fibres of the house and its contents Of course it is exaggerated and whimsical rather than realistic, but it is brilliantly described.Here s another example, where a different house is described It feels less organic, but holds of a portent Kate Nickleby has this to say of the house Ralph acquires for them,This house depresses and chills one and seems as if some blight had fallen on it If I were superstitious, I should be almost inclined to believe that some dreadful crime had been perpetrated within these old walls, and that the place had never prospered since How frowning and how dark it looks So this house seems to foreshadow the sinister plans that Ralph has for Kate Both of these to me show Dickens s supreme craft as a writer Nicholas Nickleby is partly a bildungsroman a story about the coming of age of the main character and partly a social commentary on injustice The maltreatment of children in the educational system features highly throughout, with Dickens using all the tricks of the trade to persuade his readers pathos, comedy, satire, and powerful storytelling He also employs coincidences, which we all love in life, and melodrama, which heightened the entertainment value at the time it was written As well as focusing on the private Yorkshire poor schools, savagely condemning those responsible for the system that treated children so cruelly, it also indicts those who use fraudulent financial tactics and other dishonest business practices There is certainly a memorable plot, and it could be thought of as Three Weddings and a Funeral but there are two funerals here, and they are poles apart They are both highly dramatic and tragic, because they are ultimately both avoidable.So is it the funniest novel in the English language Well it all depends on your taste It is possibly the funniest novel ever written by Dickens himself Yet it is also extremely poignant, sad, chilling, bitter and it has to be said overblown and melodramatic It is by turns absurd, comic, tragic and moving It is quintessentially Charles Dickens If you love Dickens, you ll love this one don t miss it Only now, as I will getting to know the work of Dickens, I begin to understand why his books make me feel young It is that books like this arouse the dream they are dramas of real life in which good and evil clash, but being the Good the eternal winner This naivet is no than a reflection of the natural goodness that characterized this magnificent human being named Charles Dickens The famous Happy Endings of Dickens are not only elements of romantic oversimplification They are a manifesto of their belief in the future of humanity, based on the natural goodness of man.This is perhaps its most dramatic book, in which the situations of injustice and evil are raw and violent but it is also the book of which I have read where redemption is greater where the punishments are heavier and the good are magnanimously rewarded, making remember the most romantic novels of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with deeply Manichean characters.This is perhaps the book of Dickens in his experience as a journalist is notorious, with objective, clear, almost visual descriptions There is thus a simple and enjoyable read.Throughout the book, the protagonist will strengthen your character At first he is a good soul, but something amorphous behavior But the violence of society bringeth him to the need of shape this strong character and the second half of the work came across a Nicholas with great strength of character, a lawman, a power element and able belief serve as a model to amorphous political and selfish Dickens also ridicules In fact, what distinguishes the characters, rather than the Good or Evil is the Will It is the wanting is the strength to want to change, to save a tainted society violently by inequality and injustice.Namely, in the book s core lies a profound social criticism above all, but also criticizes policy The targets are the Lord, that is, the aristocrat flabby, self seeking and ignorant bourgeois exploitative and selfish but also politicians, disinterested public good It should be noted that the book was written in 1838 39, 4 to 5 years after the publication of laws known as the Poor Laws in the British government adopted a strategy to support the poor based on segregation Dickens, of course, was the hinge of the debate.Criticism of the education system seems to extend in a global way, the whole social system based on materialism and a certain rationalist order The criticism takes a satirical way, despite the dramatic nature of the way they are treated the students of the boarding school where Nicholas works the schoolmaster, greedy, perfidious, is the image of the character who only appropriate material goods and the school practices a system of violent corporal punishment justified by the need to order now, this order seems to be also the reason for a comprehensive social repression that Dickens accuses the figure of politicians, unscrupulous traders, the state officials, in short all the ruling bourgeois class at the time.But do not consider that the book amounts to a heavy and austere criticism suddenly the book ceases to be a drama to go transforming an almost joyful adventure book Nicholas transformation into an actor and contact with new characters give the book a lightness, a grace that the game is not unfolded, such was the weight of the Nickleby family woes. The life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Charles DickensThe novel centres on the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies Nicholas Nickleby s father dies unexpectedly after losing all of his money in a poor investment Nicholas, his mother and his younger sister, Kate, are forced to give up their comfortable lifestyle in Devonshire and travel to London to seek the aid of their only relative, Nicholas s uncle, Ralph Nickleby Ralph, a cold and ruthless businessman, has no desire to help his destitute relations and hates Nicholas, who reminds him of his dead brother, on sight He gets Nicholas a low paying job as an assistant to Wackford Squeers, who runs the school Dotheboys Hall in Yorkshire Nicholas is initially wary of Squeers a very unpleasant man with one eye because he is gruff and violent towards his young charges, but he tries to quell his suspicions As Nicholas boards the stagecoach for Greta Bridge, he is handed a letter by Ralph s clerk, Newman Noggs A once wealthy businessman, Noggs lost his fortune, became a drunk, and had no other recourse but to seek employment with Ralph, whom he loathes The letter expresses concern for him as an innocent young man, and offers assistance if Nicholas ever requires it Once he arrives in Yorkshire, Nicholas comes to realise that Squeers is running a scam he takes in unwanted children most of whom are illegitimate, crippled or deformed for a high fee, and starves and mistreats them while using the money sent by their parents, who only want to get them out of their way, to pad his own pockets Squeers and his monstrous wife whip and beat the children regularly, while spoiling their own son Lessons are no better they show how poorly educated Squeers himself is and he uses the lessons as excuses to send the boys off on chores While he is there, Nicholas befriends a simple boy named Smike, who is older than the other students and now acts as an unpaid servant Nicholas attracts the attention of Fanny Squeers, his employer s plain and shrewish daughter, who deludes herself into thinking that Nicholas is in love with her She attempts to disclose her affections during a game of cards, but Nicholas doesn t catch her meaning Instead he ends up flirting with her friend Tilda Price, to the consternation of both Fanny and Tilda s friendly but crude mannered fianc John Browdie After being accosted by Fanny again, Nicholas bluntly tells her he does not return her affections and wishes to be free of the horrible atmosphere of Dotheboys Hall, earning her enmity 2010 1376 116 964471301 19 1388 137 9789643695255 1380 139 9649301011. No dark sarcasm in the classroom If you don t eat your meat, you can t have any pudding Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall, Pt 2 I delight in Dickens class humor social satire and irony Nicholas Nickleby was his third novel, right after Oliver Twist This novel is lighter than Twist but nearly as influential in pressuring changes to English society in the mid 1800s Here, Dickens target was an abusive all male boarding school in Yorkshire In researching for this novel, Dickens made visits to this school and based his villainous schoolmaster Wackford Squeers on the Yorkshire master William Shaw, who was apparently one brutally cruel son of a bitch.Other memorable character names include Newman Noggs, clerk to Nickleby s awful Uncle Ralph Nickelby, Miss Knag, Miss Wittiterly and Lord Frederick Verisopht, who is killed in a duel with another of British nobility This included the first romance written by Dickens, though it fell considerably short of the one he wrote for David Copperfield In sum, I enjoyed it, but found the story didn t flow as well as some of his later novels. I m glad that Classics Corner at Constant Reader elected to read NN for its April book as I ve intended for a while to return to my goal of reading as many of Dickens books as possible over time And I was not disappointed with this book While not as developed as later works, it introduces familiar themes, settings, character types, etc.further review to come When the name of the cruel schoolmaster is Wackford Squeers you just know it s going to be good Nicholas himself can sometimes be a bit prissy but this serves well as a foil for the many extreme characters that surround him and he s a lot feisty than the relatively milquetoast David Copperfield This is classic Dickens at the height of his powers My generic comment about Charles Dickens First of all, although I am a partisan of Dickens writing and have read and relished most his works, I concede to three flaws in his oeuvre that are not insignificant First, while he seemed to develop an almost endless variety of male social types, his female characters are much less well developed Second, although he portrayed the stark brutality of economic and class inequality with unparalleled clarity, his diagnosis of what needs to be done is flaccidly liberal, suggesting that the wealthy should simply be nicer and generous to the poor yet his writings did propitiate structural changes, e.g to the Poor Laws, in his lifetime Third, in tying up the loose threads of his extremely complex plots, he often pushes this reader past the boundary of the reasonable suspension of disbelief Some readers also object to his sentimentalism or to his grotesque characters but I find these extremes create a dynamism in combination with his social criticism These caveats aside, I deeply enjoy reading Dickens for a number of reasons He exhibits stratospheric gifts of imagination in portraying extremes of human character in extreme situations His idiosyncratic characters each have an unmistakable and unforgettable voice His highly crafted language is endlessly inventive and evocative Finally, he created a parade of some of the funniest, evilest, and most pathetic characters one will ever encounter and although extreme, they also ring true to equivalent characters from any time. I Shall Never Regret Doing As I Have Never, If I Starve Or Beg In Consequence When Nicholas Nickleby Is Left Penniless After His Father S Death, He Appeals To His Wealthy Uncle To Help Him Find Work And To Protect His Mother And Sister But Ralph Nickleby Proves Both Hard Hearted And Unscrupulous, And Nicholas Finds Himself Forced To Make His Own Way In The World His Adventures Gave Dickens The Opportunity To Portray An Extraordinary Gallery Of Rogues And Eccentrics Wackford Squeers, The Tyrannical Headmaster Of Dotheboys Hall, A School For Unwanted Boys The Slow Witted Orphan Smike, Rescued By Nicholas And The Gloriously Theatrical Mr And Mrs Crummles And Their Daughter, The Infant Phenonenon Like Many Of Dickens S Novels, Nicholas Nickleby Is Characterised By His Outrage At Cruelty And Social Injustice, But It Is Also A Flamboyantly Exuberant Work, Revealing His Comic Genius At Its Most Unerring Well, fan my brow I ve been wandering around this world for years, telling anyone who will listen that my favourite Dickens novel is David Copperfield , with conviction which cannot be rivalled I m all a flutter now Nickleby has come along and knocked Copperfield from the top spot.What an absolute triumph this novel is All of my favourite Dickens staples are firmly present Victorian social customs, comedy, villains, tragedy, debtors, and drunks There s plenty of heartbreak and injustice, peppered with Dickens own brand of humour to lighten the mood to the perfect degree.There is a lot of plot I repeat there is a lot of plot Dickens goes into tiny detail on setting, atmosphere, and behaviour, creating a beautifully vivid and engaging picture of Victorian London It feels very deep, and heavy at times this only added to my enjoyment, but I spent much longer on this book than I have on any other for a while, savouring, relishing, loving.His technique in presenting the reader with social injustices is gorgeous Laced with satire, we see our misers and villains gaining the upper hand at every turn we are scandalised, devastated, incensed But we remember it s Dickens, and each and every dastardly character will have his day in the end Real life doesn t serve justice quite so perfectly, but anything else here would be an injury.Despite this, Dickens characters here were nothing simple Such a throng of a cast, each of them described to completeness, every flaw and scar exposed Dickens often characterises his characters as entirely good or bad, placing them into their relevant camps as appropriate Here, he recognises the range of emotion and temper in his characters, and we even see the squeaky clean ones make poor decisions, and display emotion not usually attributed to the characters in the angelic of the two camps.It gave my joy, it broke my heart The characters are masterpieces within themselves, the plot divine, everything else just gorgeous gorgeous Nicholas Nickleby is an absolute wonder. I m really not sure why I like Dickens so much He is predictable, there will be coincidences that could never happen in the real world, and in the end everyone will get their just deserts except for the poor, sad creature who is destined to see heaven ahead of his time Ah, but he does it with so much style and panache He creates characters you are seldom ambivalent about, dastardly villains you can feel no compassion for, and good people who restore your faith in humanity.In Nicholas Nickleby, as in all his novels, Dickens has a full grasp of the class system of his time and the conditions of the poor He never fails to illustrate that money brings its own unhappiness for some, and that true value is found in character and dignity, devotion and love When a Dickens character is at the mercy of the world, you can bet he will see the worst and best sides of humanity rearing their heads.Nicholas Nickleby has its share of Dickens humor as well Mrs Nickleby is a bit of a buffoon, who is saved from herself by the good sense of her children I will admit that there are times when she is almost too much There is Newman Noggs, who is sure to remain a favorite for me because he is good without any obligation to be so He gives from a position in which there is very little to be given and made me chuckle than once when snipping at the horrible Uncle Ralph I dare say, most of us would hoard our coins and protect our position in Nogg s situation, and yet he puts his neck and meager fortune on the line for friendship.We should all like to think that somewhere in our world there are people like Charles and Ned Cheeryble They live up to their names, for no two cheerier people could there be in this world and they certainly spread the cheer everywhere They seem to be proof that goodness is its own reward.Another thing I love about Dickens, his ability to touch upon the thin divide between our world and that of the departedIt is an exquisite and beautiful thing in our nature, that when the heart is touched and softened by some tranquil happiness or affectionate feeling, the memory of the dead comes over it most powerfully and irresistibly I t would almost seem as though our better thoughts and sympathies were charms, in virtue of which the soul is enable to hold some vague and mysterious intercourse with the spirits of those whom we dearly loved in lifeI found this observation remarkably accurate.I have discovered that reading Dickens slowly brings out the best in his writing I languished over his descriptions of people and places and took my time over his hilarious conversations If you pay close attention, you can see 1840s London through his eyes The lessons of his time are the lesson of today, where so many seem to think money and possessions outweigh personal connections and love of humanity It is good for the soul to read Dickens.Up next, some Christmas stories and the annual reading of A Christmas Carol Next year I am planning to fit in three Dickens novels Hard Times, Little Dorrit and Pickwick Papers It is going slowly, but that is fine, since it means there will be Dickens yet to come for a long, long time. After his father dies, Nicholas Nickleby must go to work to support his mother and sister The family is at the mercy of the wicked uncle Nicholas, at Ralph s arrangement, takes a position with Dothebys, a boarding school run by Mr Squeers Squeers and his equally corrupt wife regularly abuse the boys in their charge After an incident, Nicholas leaves for London, being joined by Smike, one of the older boys Newman Noggs, an employee of Ralph Nickleby,delivers a message to Nicholas Life, love, and corruption continue to abound in the novel Like most of Dickens novels, social problems of the day are prominent Enjoyable, but probably not Dickens best work.