Friday, May 17, 2013



"Oliver Twist was enormously influential in bringing to light the atrocious treatment of paupers and orphans in Dickens's time. The novel is not only a brilliant work of art but also a tremendously important document in social history." (

Charles Dickens: 
A Tale of Ambition and Genius
From A & E
BIOGRAPHY presents the life and times of one of the world's greatest literary geniuses, Charles Dickens. Born in London in 1812, Charles Dickens would become the most read novelist of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Dickens's characters have become part of the world's common culture, recognizable and universal. BIOGRAPHY looks at both the literary giant and the man, whose work is perhaps the strongest social commentary on the polemic conditions of the industrial revolution. Charles Dickens: A Tale of Ambition and Genius would be useful for classes on Literature, English History, Culture, and Writing. It is appropriate for middle school and high school.
Discussion Questions

  1. The tales of Charles Dickens have been popular for over a century. What is it about Dickens's work that makes it so enduring and memorable?
  2. Charles Dickens's work coincided with the height of the Industrial Revolution. How did this historic era influence Dickens's life and work?
  3. How did Dickens's relationship with his parents and his boyhood influence his writings?
  4. Charles Dickens created some of the most memorable characters in the history of the written word. How did Dickens get the ideas for these characters? Are they purely fictional?
  5. The first works of Dickens were published as serials. How did this method of publication contribute to Dickens's popularityand success as a writer?
  6. Today the Yuletide traditions of Christmas trees and gift-giving are well established. But in they were just becoming popular in nineteenth century England. How did Dickens's endearing work, A Christmas Carol, contribute to the establishment of Yuletide traditions?
  7. Charles Dickens's success was everything he had dreamed of as a boy and more, yet he was an intensely unhappy man. What made Dickens so unhappy? How did his melancholy influence his work?
  8. How did Dickens internalize the world around him?
  9. What is the legacy of Charles Dickens? How did his life change the world?
Extended Activities

  1. Charles Dickens's gift for description has created some of the most memorable characters in the world. Choose your favorite Dickens character, and using Dickens's description of this character, create an artist's rendering of what this character might look like.
  2. Compare any of the many films based on Dickens's novels with the actual novel. What are the differences? Is literary license employed to adapt Dickens's work to the screen? Which do you find a more satisfying experience-reading the book or seeing the movie? Why?