The role of nature within the works of Charles Dickens
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The focus of this dissertation is the role of nature within the works of Charles Dickens. This element of Dickens’s writing has been often neglected in light of his more prominent urban landscapes, and this dissertation seeks to re-examine the impact that nature has within a range of his novels. To truly explore the concept of Dickens’s and nature, the dissertation compares his novels with the work of Romantic poets and artists, such as Wordsworth, Byron and Turner, who were formative in shaping the contemporary view of nature. It examines these similarities in three chapters which focus on the countryside, the mountains and the waterways respectively. Chapter one focuses on the novels Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations. The chapter links the idea of nature and restoration and finds that there are many similarities between Dickens’s depictions with the works of Keats and Wordsworth. Chapter two explores Pictures of Italy, Little Dorrit and David Copperfield, and compares them to the works of Ruskin, Turner and Byron, with a specific emphasis on the Byronic hero. Chapter three examines the river Thames as used in Our Mutual Friend, in comparison to the works of Blake and Turner. It then moves to look at the ocean as shown in the chapter ‘Tempest’ within David Copperfield, comparing it to the work of Byron. The dissertation demonstrates that Dickens’s novels do show many examples of Romantic influence, and that they are an effective means for Dickens to resolve issues outside of an urban environment. It shows that although Dickens is not noted for his rural landscapes, they should not be disregarded as unimportant to his canon of work.
Dissertation by Faith Fellows for the BA Modern History & English course, submitted May 2012.
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