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Critical ChildrenThe Use of Childhood in Ten Great Novels$
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Richard Locke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157834

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157834.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 13 June 2021

Charles Dickens’s Heroic Victims

Charles Dickens’s Heroic Victims

Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Pip

(p.13) 1 Charles Dickens’s Heroic Victims
Critical Children

Richard Locke

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Charles Dickens's most famous characters, Oliver Twist in The Adventures of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress (1837–39), David Copperfield in The Personal History of David Copperfield (1849–50), and Pip in Great Expectations (1861). Dickens used Oliver Twist, an unchanging saintly victim that represents the principle of Good, as an icon who could reform the criminally negligent society by arousing sympathy in others. On the other hand, Dickens used David Copperfield, a self-liberating artist, to construct an exemplary case of child development, of hard-worn personal and professional self-creation. But in Great Expectations, Dickens diverts from the common coming-of-age story, and shows not a triumphant progress, but a decline into stoic moral realism. Dickens portrays Pip as a sterile disillusioned exile destroyed by his fairytale fantasies, reflecting the then impoverished British culture and society.

Keywords:   Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Pip, Great Expectations, child development, coming-of-age story, moral realism

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