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Dickens' Use Of The Word Hand

4197 words - 17 pages

Dickens' Use of the Word Hand

[Dickens'] genius is descriptive; he can describe a thing so vividly—and so influentially—that no one can look at that thing in the same way again.
John Irving
The King of the Novel

Descriptive Dickens' Use of the Word "Hand"

Charles Dickens' description in Great Expectations is a telling example of why people consider him one of the greatest and most successful novelists ever. Dickens uses his talent for descriptive writing throughout Great Expectations to develop his characters and themes. Many of these themes emerge from Dickens' personal experiences, specifically his emphasis on the importance of education and his ideas that wealth and position are corrupting. While the themes of education and position were common during the Victorian era, Dickens had an uncommon insight into these themes.
Peter Ackroyd notes that Dickens was born the son of an Admiralty clerk, the second of eight children. At the time of Dickens' birth, his family was relatively well to-do. However, this comfortable lifestyle was short-lived due to his father's inability to manage the family's financial affairs. In a sense, his father's incompetence removed Charles from a genteel life and forced him into life as a factory worker. Dickens always felt betrayed by his parents, particularly his mother, because she suggested that Charles should work in a factory. It seems that these series of events are what first focused Dickens on the importance of education, especially considering that he wrote of his father,

[…] in the ease of his temper, and the straitness of his means, he appeared to have utterly lost at this time the idea of educating me at all, and to have utterly put from him the notion that I had any claim upon him, in that regard, whatever. (Ackroyd 58)
Dickens resented his own misfortune and lack of opportunity to receive an education. He always held his parents accountable for this misfortune. According to Ackroyd, Dickens mentioned this episode to his first biographer on many occasions. Dickens knew how important an education of any kind would have been to his future aspirations when he said, "[…] what would I have given, if I had had anything to give, to have been sent back to any other school, to have been taught something anywhere" (59). This statement signifies the importance of education to Dickens and emphasizes the role of wealth in obtaining an education. At a young age, Dickens sadly understood that the quality of his education would not be based on his desire to learn, but upon his parents' income and position. These feelings of helplessness and desperation never left Dickens, and out of this experience came the roots of Dickens' strong sympathies for the underprivileged.
Despite the difficulties he endured during his childhood, he diligently worked his way into the writing business with very little formal education or financial assistance...

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