• Charles Dickens
  • Summary
  • Characters
  • Why did Charles Dickens write the book?
  • Themes
  • Personal Comment
Charlers Dickens:
Charles Dickens was born on the 7th February 1812, in Hampshire. He was the second of eight children. His father was John Dickens. He worked at the Navy Pay Office in Portsmouth. His mother was Elizabeth Dickens (born as Barrow). When Charles Dickens was five years old, he went to Chatham in Kent with his family, were they lived until 1817. In 1822, they settled in London because his father got a job there. But one year later his family had to go to prison because his father couldn’t pay for the food,… Only Charles didn’t go to prison, to earn money to pay for the family. With only 12 years he had to work in a warehouse. So he couldn’t go to school every day. But when his father and the family came out of prison in 1824, he went to school until the year 1826.

In 1827, he came the writer of a lawyer. In 1829, he became a court stenographer. One year later he met Maria Beadnell. He wanted to marry her but the parents of Maria didn’t want this marriage. So they sent her to a girl school in Paris. In 1831 Charles worked for the Newspaper True Sun. After that he got a job for the newspaper Morning Chronicle. His first novels were continuation stories in newspapers. Charles Dickens not only wanted to get glory for his novels, he also wanted to reform the society. In 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth.

In 1837, one of his famous books, Oliver Twist, was sold in London Bookstores. He was now the publisher of the newspaper Daily News. He was a Member of the Garrick Club. He went to the USA and to Canada in 1842, to read out of his books. Many people wanted to see him. When he came back he started to write the book A Christmas Carol, which came out in 1843.
In 1852 he gave his first reading in England. It was on the 27th of December in Birmingham. In the audience there were metalworkers of the English midlands. After that reading at every reading he read out of the Christmas Carol.

In 1854he wrote the book Hard Times. In 1858 he left his wife. On the 9th of June 1865 Charles Dickens survived a horrible train crash. To process this crash Charles wrote the book The Signal Man. In 1866, he went to the USA for two years. When he came back, he bought a house in Rochester.

In 1869, he made his last reading travel in Great Britain. At one Reading of his books he got a heart attack. On the 9th June 1870 he got a second heart attack and died in his house in Rochester. On the 14th June he was entombed in the Westminster Abbey. Charles Dickens is one of the most read authors of the British literature.

Thomas Gradgrind runs a school in Coketown which educates only hard facts. His children Tom and Louisa went to see a circus which was a total opposite of his position of fancy. Thomas had not allowed them to do that because he was influenced by his friend Josiah Bounderby. Josiah Bounderby was a self-made man Josiah a Thomas had a conflict with the student Sissy Jupe, the daughter of a man who worked at the circus. She had a bad influence on the school. So Gradgrind and Bounderby visited her father to tell him that she would be removed from school. But Mr. Gradgrind agreed to take her back to school if she never mentioned her earlier life.

Stephen Blackpool was a worker in Bounderby’s mill. He wanted to marry Rachael, another worker at the mill and so he asked Bounderby. But Bounderby loftily told him that he could marry only if he paid Bounderby money for it. So he couldn’t marry her. After he asked Bounderby he met an old woman who came every year and tried to change the views and opinions of Bounderby.
Tom, Louisa and Sissy finished school, but Sissy did not do very well. Bounderby wanted to marry Louisa and asked Mr. Gradgrind for her hand. He agreed and Louisa wanted to help her brother Tom. Tom started to work for Bounderby. Sissy helped Mrs. Gradgrind to raise their 3 children.
Stephen Blackpool was fired by Bounderby. Some days later, a Bank of Bounderby was robbed and Blackpool was a suspect.

Bounderby’s friend Harthouse has fallen in love with Louisa and tried to get her away from the marriage with Bounderby. Then she fled to Mr. Gradgrind to her father, to tell him how unhappy she was about her childhood. He realized what mistakes he had made. She stayed with him and Sissy cared for her. Bounderby left her after this.

Rachael sent a letter to Blackpool to come back to the town to clear his name. But Rachael and Sissy searched for him. They found him but he ran away from them and before he died he told Mr. Gradgrind to ask his son Tom about the robbery. Tom escaped to a town where the circus of Sissy´s father made a stop. Mr. Gradgrind, Sissy and Louisa wanted to meet him but Tom could escape abroad with the help of the circus folk. There he died very unhappy. Mr. Gradgrind left his look on facts behind him in favor for hope, belief and charity.

Thomas Gradgrind
Thomas Gradgrind is the founder of the educational system of the city Coketown. He only wants to educate facts at his school. He is a strict law and order type of person. He is a “square” person. He only lives in his own constricted square of facts. After the breakdown of his daughter he realizes that poetry and fancy are not destructive nonsense.

Josiah Bounderby
Josiah Bounderby is a business partner of Mr. Gradgrind. He is a very important and shows off that he is a self-made man. He employs many people, also some main characters. He marries Louisa, the daughter of Mr. Gradgrind. In this marriage there is no love. They have no child. Later, they get divorced.

Louisa Bounderby (born as Gradgrind)
Louisa is the oldest child of the Gradgrind family. She is married with Josiah Bounderby. James Harthouse declares his Love to her. After the love declaration of Harthouse she understands the meaning of love and everything had lacked until this moment. She realizes how immature it was to marry Bounderby.

Thomas Gradgrind junior
Thomas Gradgrind is the second oldest child of the Gradgrind family. Tom has a strong relationship to his sister Louisa. Tom works at the bank of Bounderby which he robs later in the book. He tries to get out, making use of his loving sister, of the life which his father gives him, because he doesn’t like it.

Why did Charles Dickens write the book?
The symbols in this book are for example that Charles Dickens wants to educate the readers how the work conditions in factories are. He also wants to show how prosperity runs contrary to morality. This is shown in this novel by morally monsters like Bounderby who is a successful, wealthy Businessman. He also campaigns for the value of fancy in your life.

Fancy against Facts:
This is a major part of the book. Especially in the beginning of the book where Mr. Gradgrind teaches the students in his school nothing but facts. All subjects which have to do with fantasy were cancelled from the curriculum.

Honesty is one of the major themes of all books of Charles Dickens. Dickens says that the wealthy are morally corrupt. In this book for example Bounderby has no scruples. He fires Blackpool for nothing although Blackpool is a really good worker.

Personal Comment:
I don’t like this book very much. Because there are themes which don’t interest me like Fancy against Facts. In my opinion these are no important topics in modern educate systems. I also don’t like the book because of the way it is written. For me, the language is very hard to read and there are many words which I don’t know. But for the time when the book was written it probably was a really good book because it was criticizing the Victorian society.

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