Top image:Still from the 1938 film A Christmas Carol with Leo G. Carroll as Jacob Marley’s ghost and Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge. Bottom image: Frederick Jensen as Mr Micawber in the 1935 film David Copperfield. Micawber is said to be based on Dickens’s father. Source: The Guardian, “Charles Dickens’s characters come to life – in pictures”.
About Charles Dickens’s Characters:
Dickens’s friend and biographer, John Forster, once said that he made “characters real existences, not by describing them but by letting them describe themselves.”
T. S. Eliot observed that “Dickens’s figures belong to poetry, like figures of Dante or Shakespeare, in that a single phrase, either by them or about them, may be enough to set them wholly before us.”
I was filled with sadness for a man who had been dead 142 years, but for the space of nearly 500 pages, he had been kindled to life again. Rejuvenated, he bustled through the Old Bailey, taking notes as a young journalist; he moved his pen across 9 x 7 inch pages at fevered speed, dipping the nib into the inkwell and spattering drops as he created Wackford Squeers and Uriah Heep and Sairey Gamp; he hurried through the London suburbs on one of his legendary walks, his legs carrying him across the land, his England, at speeds up to five miles per hour. He smoldered, he sparked, he burst into flame.
Every time I read the book I think, the story of a boy who overcomes adversity and grows up to be a writer? That’s the most cliché first-novel idea around. Except that it was Dickens’ eighth, and it marked a departure.
2012 is round the corner, and an important event will soon happen: in February the world will celebrate Charles Dickens’s bicentennial (bicentenary). In 1850 Dickens brought out David Copperfield. Since that time, Mr. Micawber, Mrs. Gummidge, Spenlow and Jorkins, and all, all, all have been our perennial companions. Uriah Heep survived the many wars and revolutions, learned nothing, and remained as ‘umble as ever. Mr. Dick keeps flying kites and wondering how the thoughts from the head of King Charles I ended up in his own poor head. Although even those who do not read thick nineteenth-century novels (the majority of mankind) must have heard the name David Copperfield, few of them will recall that also in 1850 William Makepeace Thackeray’s Pendennis was published.