Even one and a half centuries after his death, Charles Dickens, the celebrated Victorian era English novelist, continues to be popular thanks to his epoch-making novels and the realist characters he created. His remarkable take on the plight of the working class, his complex story ideas and his characters are so real that we still do not fail to associate ourselves with them.
On the 200th birthday of the novelist, IBTimes pays a tribute to some of the top characters created by Dickens.
1. Ebenezer Scrooge - A Christmas Carol
Ebenezer Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol, is one of the most grumpy and greedy characters of all literary creations.
The story revolves around three spirits of Christmas who visit the dull bean-counter with a hope to change Scrooge's greedy, cold-hearted approach to life. Dickens portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge is so real that today Scrooge has turned into an actual word, which means a miserly person!
2. Pip - Great Expectations
Philip Pirrip, better known as Pip, is the protagonist of Great Expectations. He is an immature and romantic young man who wants to evolve as a greater person and to rise in life.
Dickens has depicted Pip's character both as the protagonist, whose life is the center of the story, and as the narrator, who narrates his story many years after and shapes the reader's perception. In the story, Miss Havisham and her beautiful daughter Estella create a complex and puzzling world that Pip fails to understand.
3. Madame Defarge - A Tale of Two Cities
Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities is perhaps the meanest of all characters created by Charles Dickens. With her character, Dickens tried to showcase the anarchy of the French Revolution.
Madame Defarge depicts relentless lust for vengeance which she acquires as a result of oppression and personal tragedy which she suffers at the hands of the aristocracy.
4. Oliver Twist from Oliver Twist
Who can forget Oliver Twist - the young orphan who was born in a workhouse and ended up working with a gang of pickpockets?
Dickens wrote Oliver Twist to criticize the government policy toward the poor in England in 1830s.
He portrayed Oliver as an innocent child who is manipulated by those around him to steal the inheritance which is rightfully his. He is eventually adopted and gets to live a happy life away from his past.
Although Dickens' portrayal of Oliver Twist is more sentimental and less believable, Oliver steals the hearts of the readers with his innocence and purity.
5. Miss Havisham - Great Expectations
Miss Havisham, a wealthy spinster who is ditched by her fiancé on the wedding day and who is forever clad in her faded wedding gown, is one of the evergreen creations by Dickens.
The manic of Great Expectations is portrayed as an ice-cold woman who enjoys power that her wealth provides her and puts time to conspire the downfall of others.
Dickens describes Miss Havisham as an immensely rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who led a life of seclusion.
6. David Copperfield - The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger
The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger was a serial publication which took place between May 1849 and November 1850.
Dickens criticized the industrial revolution and its ruthlessness with his poignant portrayal of David and his unfortunate situations.
Many reviewers believe that David's character portrays the true life of Dickens in some way. However, Dickens' semi-autobiographical book presents the struggles of a young boy after his widowed mother marries again.
The story narrates how David evolves as a man in a cruel world, with little money and few people to guide him, experiences perils of growing up and eventually finds happiness.
7. Fagin - Oliver Twist
Bob Fagin, depicted as ugly and miserly in Oliver Twist, is yet another memorable character created by Dickens.
Fagin is Oliver's only real friend. He operates in the shadows of London as he sends his army of young hooligans out onto the streets to pick a pocket or two.
Dickens had always denied the influence of anti-Semitism behind the portrayal of Fagin. But the Jewish thief's characterization was indeed influenced by the author's own ethnic identity.