Charles Dickens is one of the world’s most beloved authors and his works have been studied in universities and schools around the world His tales, from A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations to Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, are timeless classics that continue to captivate millions, and his astute analysis of Victorian England is still relevant today. As such, studying Dickens is a great way to gain a more profound understanding of English literature and 19th century England.
Below are five of the best essay topics for writing about Charles Dickens.
1. Examine the Role of Social Class in Dickens’ Work. Dickens was a great social commentator, and his novels often explore the deep divide between the rich and poor of England. His stories are full of characters that symbolize the different levels of social class, from Oliver Twist's upper-class benefactors to the poor and downtrodden Fagin and his gang. One can examine how class functions in both the narrative and symbolism of Dickens' work and how his work speaks to the class divisions of his time and today.
2. Analyze Dickens’ Portrayal of Children. Dickens often wrote about the plight of orphans and the struggles of the working class, and his portrayal of children in his novels is complex. He often use's children such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Tiny Tim to spotlight the problems of child labor and poverty, but he also offers hope for a brighter future for these characters. Analyzing Dickens’ children can offer insights into how he viewed child labor and poverty.
3. Examine the Dichotomy of London in Dickens’ Novels. London was a very divided city during Dickens’ lifetime and his novels often explore both the wealthy West End and the poverty-stricken East End. He often pitted these two sides against each other and depicted a strong contrast between the two. One could analyze the different characters, settings, and themes of his novels in order to understand how he viewed London and its division.
4. Analyze the Role of Money in Dickens’ Novels. Money was an important theme in Dickens’ work and his novels were filled with characters whose lives were deeply impacted by how much or how little money they had. One can examine how money played a role in characters’ lives, from Pip’s expectations of wealth in Great Expectations to the money troubles of David Copperfield.
5. Comparing and Contrasting Characters in Dickens’ Work. By looking at the characters of Dickens’ novels, one can gain an understanding of his world view and the way he viewed society. Comparing and contrasting characters across his stories can be a great way to look at his views on topics such as class, money, and love. For example, one could look at characters such as Oliver Twist, Fagin, and the Bumble family to explore the themes of poverty and class in his work.
Studying the works of Charles Dickens is a great way to explore 19th century England, and these five essay topics provide excellent ways to analyze and examine his work. Whether one is looking at social class, money, or characters, studying Dickens can provide a wealth of knowledge about English literature, the English language, and English society.