The Fiction and Journalism of Charles Dickens

4554 Words Jun 25th, 2018 19 Pages
The Fiction and Journalism of Charles Dickens

Readers of Charles Dickens' journalism will recognize many of the author's themes as common to his novels. Certainly, Dickens addresses his fascination with the criminal underground, his sympathy for the poor, especially children, and his interest in the penal system in both his novels and his essays. The two genres allow the author to address these matters with different approaches, though with similar ends in mind.

Two key differences exist, however, between the author's novels and his journalism. First, humor, which is an essential element if many of Dickens' novels, is largely absent from his essays recommend specific medicine. However, as this paper will suggest, the author's
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Explaining this difference may be the fact that such a reasonable, open perspective is fitting for a serious essay but would have failed to advance his themes in fiction like Oliver Twist or to capture the emotional attention of his readers. While suggestions that improvements in workhouses have been made between the writing of Oliver Twist and the publication of this essay of the same period convincingly argues against such a supposition.

Among those characteristics of the 1850 workhouse applauded by Dickens were the robust looks of the children, the pleasant confidence of the members of the infant school, and the "cheerful and healthy aspect" of the girls' school (Philip and Neuberg 109).

This measured acknowledgment that all is not wrong in the workhouse contrasts with the way Dickens introduces Twist's workhouse experience. If this he writes that the "parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved that Oliver should be 'farmed', or, in other words, that he should be dispatched to a branch-workhouse some three miles off, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor-laws rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing, under the parental supervision of an elderly female who received the culprits at and for the consideration of sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week" (Oliver Twist 48). The tone of this workhouse description here is, of course,

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