Monday, March 18, 2013

The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby

Title: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

Series: None

Year: 1839

Author: Charles Dickens

Summary: After the death of his father, Nicholas and his family find themselves penniless and so move to London where they seek out the assistance of Nicholas's uncle, Ralph Nickleby. Ralph gets Nicholas a low-paying job as an assistant to Wackford Squeers, who runs the school, Dotheboys Hall. Nicholas there befriends a simple boy named Smike and eventually makes himself an enemy to the Squeer family. He returns home only to discover that Ralph has been using Nicholas's sister, Kate, as bait to lure wealthy young men into doing business with him. Nicholas breaks all connections with his uncle and sets out with Smike to find his own job. He accepts a position for a while with Mr. Vincent Crummles' traveling troupe and later find employment under the Brothers Cheeryble. Ralph, meanwhile, harbors a hatred for his nephew and is willing to do whatever is necessary to obtain Nicholas's ruin.

Main Characters:
~ Nicholas Nickleby
~ Kate Nickleby
~ Mrs. Nickleby
~ Ralph Nickleby
~ Newman Noggs
~ Madeline Bray
~ Smike
~ Wackford Squeers

Review: I very much enjoyed reading Nicholas Nickleby, and would probably list it as one of my favorite Dickens tales. Nicholas, although far from perfect, was an outstanding hero, just the kind for which you want to root. He does have a temper, but through the course of the novel learns to control it. 

Kate I found to be a sweet girl, and I felt sorry whenever she fell prey to Ralph's evil intentions. Mrs. Nickleby was one of my favorite characters, and her rambling speeches made me giggle every time they appeared on the page. I say one of my favorites as I believe I can truly claim Newman Noggs as my absolute favorite. He is the ultimate unlikely hero, stuck working for a man whom he can never respect, and always doing his best to be a friend to those who need one, namely Nicholas. I laughed heartily at the scene when he tried to trace down Nicholas's love and ended up at the door of the wrong lady! 

John Browdie was another epic character, the rough, crude-mannered country fellow, but he had an excellent heart, always a friend to Nicholas and Smike, even when everyone else seemed determined to hate the two. 

This novel contains some of Dickens most despicable villains: Ralph Nickleby, Wackford Squeers, Sir Mulberry Hawk, etc. The themes involving them get rather dark at times, and their immoral actions are as such that I could never ever condone them. Selfish gain-seekers, all of them, Ralph probably the worst and most selfish of the lot! They were all the sort of villains that you enjoy loathing, but reading about them and learning what they did is enough to make you squirm uncomfortably in your chair. 

I would recommend Nicholas Nickleby as a must-read for any Dickens fan, although I would advise more of a mature reading age as there are some adult themes woven into the context of the novel.

Advisory: Some violence as certain characters get into fights, duels, and suicide; Nicholas's sister, Kate, is exposed to some undesirable circumstances involving unsavory male characters; and profanity.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Nicholas Nickleby on Amazon!

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