Education and Social Mobility Aspects in Dickens's Nicholas Nickelby

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' It has afforded the Author great amusement and satisfaction, during the progress of this work, to learn from country friends and from a variety of ludicrous statements concerning himself in provincial newspapers, that more than one Yorkshire schoolmaster lays claim to being the original of Mr…

Introduction


Dickens obviously was happy that his attack on the kind of schoolmasters of the time typified by Squeers had hit its mark, and here we have an instance of an author who has found social authority. After the success of Pickwick Papers, Dickens was secure in the knowledge that he could become an established writer, but that he wanted to become a novelist was decided at the time of Nicholas Nickleby, as Chesterton so eloquently points out:
'It must be remembered that before this issue of Nicholas Nickleby his work, successful as it was, had not been such as to dedicate him seriously or irrevocably to the writing of novels. He had already written three books; and at least two of them are classed among the novels under his name..... the Sketches by Boz, The Pickwick Papers, and Oliver Twist......Had he continued along this line all his books might very well have been note-books......We might have lost all Dickens's novels; we might have lost altogether Dickens the novelist....All his books might have been Sketches by Boz. But he did turn away from this, and the turning-point is Nicholas Nickleby'. (Chesterton, 1911)
Thus, Nicholas Nickleby became the ...
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