Nicholas Nickleby

October is approaching fast and with it comes my final year at University. I’ve had a pretty busy summer and again it is one that has also been full of reading for the year ahead.

This post focuses on Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby which I have read for my dissertation. After reading this, and re-reading Oliver Twist, I have formed some new and exciting ideas of where my dissertation on how Dickens constructs his villains might take me. In this novel, the two most prominent villains are portrayed quite clearly and they are Mr Ralph Nickleby, Nicholas’ uncle, and the one-eyed school master, Mr Wackford Squeers.

Nicholas Nickleby is a novel that is full of everything that any reader could ever wish for. Dickens ranges from the lighter subjects of love, friendship and growing up to the darker areas of death, betrayal and abuse.

The novel of course follows Nicholas and his family closely throughout and (without giving too much away) discusses their encounters starting with the death of Nicholas’ father and Nicholas’ attempts of getting work, the novel then moves on to describe the Nickleby’s suffering and finishes with the kindness of the Cheeryble brothers and the events that sum up the over-arching plot at the end.

Although Nicholas is quite clearly the protagonist of the novel, it is the character of Newman Noggs that interests me most. A rich businessman, turned alcoholic , now acts as a clerk to Ralph Nickleby. Dickens does not pay lots of attention to this character but it is significant when he does as his presence is ever present. His character is given a role that is almost like a protector to the Nickleby family to save them from all the bad in the world.

His character reminds me a bit of Oliver Twist’s Mr Brownlow who serves the same purpose to young Oliver. I don’t know why but when I read about these two characters it seemed as if Dickens’ himself was writing himself into the novel in order to guide the characters in the right direction and save them from their doomed future. This is a pretty bold claim and is not one that I have discovered anywhere else so it definitely could be worth looking into further.

All of this combined with Dickens delightful description and narrative style makes Nicholas Nickleby a great read. Oliver Twist is my favourite book and I wondered whether Nicholas Nickleby would live up to my expectations of Dickens but as you may have already have guessed, it definitely did. Nicholas Nickleby gains an impressive 9/10 and would have gained the maximum 10 if everything had not have unravelled as quickly as it does at the end.

I’ve still got The Old Curiosity Shop to read before I finalise my ideas but I’m currently getting through that nicely. However, before I get round to that I would also like to read up on Dickens’ past as well as venturing into Juliet John’s book of essays titled ‘Dickens’ Villains’ to complete the background reading for my dissertation. Make sure to check back for my latest update!

As you can see from the picture below, this is the first book that I have read on my new Kindle!

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One comment

  1. I am a fan of Dickens but I have yet to read Nicholas Nickleby. I started when I was a bit younger and didn’t finish. I look forward to finally reading the book, and I’m excited to encounter another person who writes literary musings FOR FUN!

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