Charles Dickens and national identity: Poverty, Wealth and Empire
AbstractThis dissertation examines the concepts of poverty, wealth and empire in the work of Charles Dickens. The concepts are widely known and have been the subject of countless books and academic studies since Charles Dickens’s death in 1870. Yet what seems to have been given less attention is a close analysis of how these concepts were inextricably linked and bound together in Dickens’s novels, and in the society they reflected. This study aims to address that deficit. The concepts of poverty, wealth, and to a lesser extent, empire formed the bedrock of all Dickens’s novels, and it was Dickens’s close observation of these aspects of society that formed the basis of his work’s clarion call for major social reform in the nineteenth century. This study establishes Dickens’s credibility in accurately portraying these concepts by analysing the influence of social reformers of the time, such as Friedrich Engels, Henry Mayhew, Thomas Carlyle, and Edwin Chadwick. Some of Dickens’s novels are omitted due to the sheer scale of his output, but the study closely examines the novels Oliver Twist (1838), Bleak House (1853), Hard Times (1854), Little Dorrit (1857), Great Expectations (1861), and Our Mutual Friend (1865), as well as Dickens’s periodicals, Household Words (1850-1859) and All the Year Round (1859-1870). This study aims to demonstrate how poverty, wealth and empire, and their intricate, closely-bound relationship, as reflected in the work of Charles Dickens, formed the nucleus of British national identity of the time, and informed national policy and decision-making at every level of society.
CitationStubbs, J. (2015). Charles Dickens and national identity: poverty, wealth and empire. (Master's dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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