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I don't understand this Panglossianism from Dickens. The quotations below would suggest a pessimistic conclusion?

Reflect upon your present blessings past misfortunes of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes present blessings, of which all men have some.

I lit upon this quotation on p. 95 in National Geographic's photo book Sublime Nature: Photographs That Awe and Inspire, but Brainyquote quotes it too.

Charles Dickens and the Role of Legal Institutions in Social and Moral Reform: Oliver Twist, Bleak House, and Our Mutual Friend.

In this respect Dickens concentrates on the appalling conditions of institutions such as workhouses and poorhouses in Victorian society and on resultant criminal activity and prostitution in the community as the disinherited struggle to survive.

Dickens' 7 Most Unfortunate Orphans

A very important characteristic of a Dickensian novel is his tendency to obsessively include orphaned children throughout. Again, these children help to showcase a dark and seedy land where children run amuck without a parental figure to help guide them along. These children grow up fast, but they learn invaluable lessons along their path to early adulthood. Here’s seven of the most invaluable Dickensian waifs.

Dickens' Attitude to the Law - Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

Dickens was a lifelong critic of the iniquities of a social system that produced criminals and then punished them - his contempt being most succinctly summed up in Mr Bumble’s pronouncement in Oliver Twist that ‘The law is a ass’ and expressed at length in Bleak House, his great satire of the courts of chancery and their self-perpetuating property disputes. Elsewhere his fiction is full of prisons, judges, trials, lawyers, wills and lawsuits, focused on the City of London, where the system had its fulcrum: when he was a teenager, Dickens spent time working there as a solicitor’s clerk and considered a legal career.

Poverty and the Poor | Dickens & the Victorian City

Dickens was a vigorous critic of the New Poor Law and he relentlessly lampooned the harsh utilitarian ethics behind it – the belief that the workhouse would act as a deterrent so fewer people would claim poor relief and thereby the poor rate would reach its ‘correct’ level.

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    Hello and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. Can you clarify what you are asking? Are you saying that because Dickens describes unhappy situations in his novels, the exhortation to focus on one's blessings seems out of character? Also, could you provide the source of the quote? Finally, what does "commend" mean in your second sentence? Thanks – verbose Jan 1 at 6:16
  • "Are you saying that because Dickens describes unhappy situations in his novels, the exhortation to focus on one's blessings seems out of character?" Yes! – user11647 Jan 1 at 6:17
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    Great! Please edit your question to make that explicit. Also, please do explain what you mean by "commend". Thanks! – verbose Jan 1 at 6:19
  • Hi and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. The only question I currently see is "The quotations below would suggest a pessimistic conclusion?" Is that actually your question? Please edit your post to clarify this. – Tsundoku Jan 1 at 13:44
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    @verbose: Quotation (in its unedited version) is from Mamie Dickens (1896), My Father As I Recall Him, p. 45. – Gareth Rees Jan 1 at 13:58

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