Charles Dickens: pickpockets, prostitutes and downright murder!

Powell, Louise (2008) Charles Dickens: pickpockets, prostitutes and downright murder! BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    This dissertation will explore the criminal characters of four Dickensian novels, Oliver Twist (1837), Bleak House (1853), A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1860-61), examining the author’s reactions to crime and its relationship to society. Charles Dickens was well known among his contemporaries, as well as critics today, for using literature to comment upon the world in which he lived. Through the course of this dissertation, I will explore if this was also the case with his representation of the criminal figure. In order to track Dickens’s views on crime, I will examine the novels in terms of three criminal stereotypes: the delinquent child, the deviant woman and the criminal male. Chapter One will follow the author’s representation of the youthful criminal in an attempt to uncover Dickens’s feelings towards those too young to help themselves out of poverty. Chapter Two will set up the notion of the Victorian womanly ideal, to create a contrast between what was considered the ‘norm’ and the deviant woman that Dickens portrayed in his novels. By investigating women who were criminalised by society, I will show how the author both supported and feared those females who dared to be different, using literature to voice his social concerns. Chapter Three will examine the male criminal, exploring how he too can be seen as a deviation from the social norm, whilst being feared in Victorian literature and society as the top of a ‘criminal food chain’, breeding delinquency and terror on the streets of Victorian England. This dissertation illustrates how successful Dickens'literature was in bringing about change to the ways in which criminality was perceived and moderated.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15

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