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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Dickens’ People

This week marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens (Feb. 7, 1812). If you dreaded slogging through Great Expectations or Oliver Twist in high school English, you may want to try this delightful writer again. The Christian Science Monitor recently published a guide to Dickens’ most enduring characters ("Charles Dickens: His 10 Most Memorable Characters"). They range from the angelic (Little Nell in Old Curiosity Shop) to the vengeful (Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities). So, if you are up for sampling this master storyteller again, here are a few more of his quirky characters and the books they appear in:

Samuel Pickwick in The Pickwick Papers
“Pickwick . . . is a rather idealistic and naive creature, who blunders unwittingly into woes such as a lawsuit brought against him by his landlady who mistakenly imagines that he has proposed to her.”

Sidney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities
The novel’s hero sacrifices himself for the woman he loves and utters some of Dickens’ most famous lines: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield
Thought to be modeled on Dickens’ father who spent time in debtors’ prison, Mr. Micawber is “a comical, chronically indebted figure best remembered for his constant assurance that ‘something will turn up.’"

Miss Havisham in Great Expectations
“This wealthy madwoman, jilted on her wedding day, lives as a recluse in her creepy mansion, still dressed in the tatters of her wedding dress.”

Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol
“Dickens' description of Scrooge is downright harrowing: ‘The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and he spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.’"

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