Questions tagged [charles-dickens]

Questions about the works of the English author Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) or his life as a writer.

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What does the "who has not dined with these?" mean?

This is from Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Chapter 16: The expressionless uniform twenty houses, all to be knocked at and rung at in the same form, all approachable by the same dull steps, all ...
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Meaning of "unsatisfied claim upon his justice"

This is from Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit, Chapter 16: As often as he began to consider how to increase this inheritance, or to lay it by, so often his misgiving that there was some one with an ...
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Who is Little Dorrit referring to when she says, "Don’t encourage him to ask"?

I am currently reading Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens and have come across the following passage from chapter 14: ‘Can you guess,’ said Little Dorrit, folding her small hands tight in one another, ...
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2 votes
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What does the term "Bred in a creed too darkly audacious to pursue" mean from "Little Dorrit"?

Dickens's Little Dorrit, chapter 13: Bred in a creed too darkly audacious to pursue, through its process of reserving the making of man in the image of his Creator to the making of his Creator in the ...
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6 votes
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Do native speakers face difficulty understanding Charles Dickens?

I am not a native speaker of English. Though I have learned the language well enough to comprehend modern English novels fairly well, when it comes to Charles Dickens I am completely defeated. It is ...
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2 votes
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"No more than you could talk Beef into him" from Little Dorrit Charles Dickens Chapter 12

I am reading Little Dorrit By Charles Dickens , and I would like to know what the following phrase means: When a man felt, on his own back and in his own belly, that poor he was, that man (Mr ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Who is saying "what was a man to do? from The following passage in Charles Dickens Little Dorrit Chapter 12

Then you see, some people as was better off said, and a good many such people lived pretty close up to the mark themselves if not beyond it so he’d heerd, that they was ‘improvident’ (that was the ...
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What does the term "one heat down" in Dickens's "Little Dorrit" mean?

Mr Casby lived in a street in the Gray’s Inn Road, which had set off from that thoroughfare with the intention of running at one heat down into the valley. Little Dorrit, chapter 13 What does the ...
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9 votes
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What does "much worse fed and lodged and treated altogether than" mean in chapter 12 from Dickens's Little Dorrit?

Chapter 12 in Dickens's Little Dorrit contains the following passage: There was old people, after working all their lives, going and being shut up in the workhouse, much worse fed and lodged and ...
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4 votes
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Who ran away with Mrs Captain Barbary in Charles Dickens' "Little Dorrit"?

From Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, Chapter 12: The Principal and instrument soon drove off together to a stable-yard in High Holborn, where a remarkably fine grey gelding, worth, at the lowest ...
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Who is the "unconscious stranger of Mrs. Micawber’s last letter" in "David Copperfield"?

From chapter 52 of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: His house was not far off; and as the street-door opened into the sitting-room, and he bolted in with a precipitation quite his own, we found ...
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What is meant by "without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob Marley" in A Christmas Carol?

Near the end of Stave 3 of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge a Christmas party hosted by Scrooge's nephew Fred. Fred's wife plays a song that was familiar with Scrooge's ...
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6 votes
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What is meant by "I am standing in the spirit at your elbow" in A Christmas Carol?

Near the beginning of Stave 2 of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Past draws aside Scrooge's bed curtains: The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains ...
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What does, "The period of exaggerated reaction consequent on all public wrongdoing..." mean?

It says in Great Expectations, The period of exaggerated reaction consequent on all public wrongdoing—and which is always its heaviest and longest punishment—was still far off. What is this "...
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2 votes
1 answer
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In Great Expectations, why were thieves happy when Mr. Jaggers spoke?

In Great Expectations, when Pip, the protagonist, and Wemmick, his acquaintance, see Mr. Jaggers, a very strong lawyer, in court, Pip remarks that Thieves and thieftakers hung in dread rapture on his ...
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7 votes
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What does "Some people do the same by their religion" mean?

It says in Great Expectations Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself. Cleanliness is next to ...
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What does, "‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!'" mean?

It says in Great Expectations, ‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!’ What does this mean/imply?
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5 votes
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What does "...they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets..." from mean?

It says in Great Expectations, To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What does "a sort of Hercules in strength and weakness" mean?

It says in Great Expectations, Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they seemed to have somehow got mixed ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What is the connection between the Bleak House in Broadstairs and the one in Dickens's novel?

Dickens's novel Bleak House shares its name with an actual house in the English seaside town of Broadstairs. Dickens actually stayed in that house for a while, and wrote David Copperfield there, but ...
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What does this paragraph mean in Dickens' American Notes?

I came across the following paragraph in Dickens' American Notes: I have made no reference to my reception, nor have I suffered it to influence me in what I have written; for, in either case, I ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Does "Great Expectations" refer to the sport of cricket, in the scene of Joe meeting Pip in London?

In Great Expectations, the scene of Joe meeting Pip in London narrates: “I really believe Joe would have prolonged this word (mightily expressive to my mind of some architecture that I know) into a ...
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7 votes
1 answer
791 views

Why does Mr Merdle ask for a penknife with a darker handle in "Little Dorrit"?

In Chapter 24 of Little Dorrit, in one of the last scenes, Mr Merdle asks for a penknife. When Mrs Sparkler hands him the knife he asks if he could have one with a "darker" handle. ‘So I am ...
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Is "Doctor Marigold" the nickname of the cheap-jack, or is "Marigold" his real name?

Doctor Marigold is the titular "cheap-jack" in Dickens' Doctor Marigold. Is "Marigold" his real name, with "Doctor" an addition, or is "Doctor Marigold" a ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Was Esther Summerson pleasantly surprised or otherwise at being presented the housekeeping keys of Bleak House?

In Chapter VI of Bleak House, Esther Summerson, Ada Clare and Richard Carstone are just arrived at Bleak House and introduced to John Jarndyce. A conversation touching on the Jellybys, the east wind, ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "put in all the salt and pepper"

From Chapter 48 of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations: “Mr. Jaggers was for her [Molly, Mr. Jaggers's maidservant],” pursued Wemmick, with a look full of meaning, “and worked the case in a way ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Why does Mr. Pumblechook call Mrs. Joe "mum"?

I noticed that at the beginning of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens that Mr. or Uncle Pumblechook kept calling Mrs. Joe mum. Why is that? I know for sure that Mrs. Joe didn't give birth to him, ...
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4 votes
1 answer
843 views

What does "in coarse gray" and "iron" mean here?

I continue to read "Great Expectations" and there is another question about some words that I'd like to put. A fearful man, in a coarse gray, with a great iron on his leg. I emphasized the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What does "raw" mean in this context from Great Expectations?

I have just started reading Great Expectations. I want to improve my English, and since I'm not a native speaker, I have difficulty understanding what "raw" means in the following piece of ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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Dickens invented the scary clown?

Today in "Messages from Firefox" (some annoying thing that comes up in my browser), I saw the following which piqued my interest: Dickens invented the scary clown, the ‘80s perfected it. ...
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7 votes
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Why did Mr Jaggers have death masks of two of his former clients, Great Expectations Chapter 24?

This question is regarding Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Chapter 24 (also known as Volume II Chapter V). Mr Jaggers has two casts in his office, revealed by Wemmick to be death masks of his ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Meaning of ‘matted well’ and ‘silk gowns’ in Bleak House

I’ve come across the following passage in Chapter 1 of Bleak House by Charles Dickens: On such an afternoon the various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Where in the book Little Dorrit does Mrs. General tell Amy that society is not the place for unburdening oneself?

In the BBC mini-series Little Dorrit there is a scene in which Mrs. General tells Amy the correct opinions which she is to express concerning the sites that she and other English tourists visit on the ...
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To what degree is Charles Darnay’s decision to go to Paris at the end of Book the Second a noble or virtuous decision?

I am having trouble with this question from "A Tale of Two Cities." Just wondering if someone could help with this. If anyone could bring up quotes as well, that would be great!
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3 votes
0 answers
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Why does Carton feel so bad about himself?

Carton throughout A Tale of Two Cities is shown as a man who hates who he is, and wishes he could be someone different but cannot. I think one of the best quotes to represent this is in "Fellow of No ...
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1 vote
1 answer
932 views

Conclusion of 'The Trial for Murder' by Charles Dickens

What does the last quote of the short story 'The Trial for Murder' mean? Why did the 'Murderer' says [...] Before I was taken, he somehow got to my bedside in the night, woke me, and put a rope ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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What exactly does Dickens mean to say here?

In the beginning of Stave 2, after Marley's ghost has disappeared, Scrooge wakes up believing he has overslept and that the time at which the first ghost was to appear has passed. To confirm this, he ...
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Meaning of sentence from "A Tale of Two Cities"

Reins and whip and coachman and guard, however, in combination, had read that article of war which forbade a purpose otherwise strongly in favour of the argument, that some brute animals are endued ...
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What is "the fabled obelisk" alluding to in The Boy at Mugby?

In this fragment from The Boy at Mugby within paragraph 60: The swelling tumult was arrested in its rise. Sniff, bore away by his servile disposition, had drored up his leg with a higher and a ...
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4 votes
1 answer
2k views

Where did Charles Dickens come up with the name "Magwitch"?

One of the key characters in Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" is a person named Abel Magwitch. "Magwitch" doesn't appear to be an existing name, nor does it seem to be a word with a different ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What was Sydney Carton doing in France?

I reread A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens recently and was struck at how coincidental it was that Sydney Carton just happened to be in France during the time Charles Darnay was accused the ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What was Dickens's attitude towards revolution?

Charles Dickens wrote two "historical novels": A Tale of Two Cities, set during the French Revolution, and Barnaby Rudge, set during the Gordon Riots. I find it interesting that both of these books ...
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What happened to Marley in A Christmas Carol?

Whatever happened to Scrooge’s partner after he gave his warning about the three ghosts? I know it’s way before Christmas, but I just have to know! It just seems strange to me that he’s never ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Why did Dickens write A Christmas Carol

I am currently revising for my main exams and I'm not too sure on why Dickens wrote the novella. I know he wanted the poverty of children and families to change but how could I write this for a exam?
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10 votes
3 answers
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In Great Expectations, who is the man at the pub in Chapter Ten?

In Chapter 10 of Dickens's Great Expectations, Pip goes to the pub to find Joe, as told by his sister. When he enters the pub, Joe and Mr. Wopsle are sitting at a table next to a mysterious man: He ...
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What is the name of the writing style in "Bleak House" by Charles Dickens? Why is that style used?

In Bleak House by Charles Dickens, the viewpoint frequently changes from Esther Summerson, or first-person, to third person. What is this style known as?
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Are Nicholas's sentiments on playwrights those of his creator?

In chapter 48 of Nicholas Nickleby, Dickens expresses quite strong views on writers of plays adapted from books: 'Shot beyond him [Shakespear], I mean,' resumed Nicholas, 'in quite another ...
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5 votes
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Use of 'Genius' in Nicholas Nickleby?

In Nicholas Nickleby, people use the word "genius" to describe people they don't even know and in such a way that I do not believe it has the same meaning as we now use it with. For instance, Mr ...
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Did Charles Dickens change the endings of any of his books other than Great Expectations?

I know that Charles Dickens changed the ending to Great Expectations after prompting. Did he do so with any of his other books? Of course, he may have changed the endings of all his books a hundred ...
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What did Charles Dickens say about genius and pain?

While reading Somerset Maugham's Cakes and Ale, I came across this quote (emphasis mine): ...Charles Dickens in an after-dinner speech had stated that genius was an infinite capacity for taking ...
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