What the Dickens? Nicholas Nickleby

What the Dickens? Nicholas Nickleby

In which I talk about Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby…

Nicholas Nickleby was Dickens’s third novel, published in 1838-9; it is my thirteenth favourite Dickens novel.

Nicholas Nickleby:

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Kate Howe’s 2001 TV film review:

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so hello welcome back to books and things and here we are again on the second day of a fortnight of Charles Dickens today I'm gonna be talking about the next Dickens book in my list which is Nicholas Nickleby chapter one introduces all the rest they once lived in a sequestered part of the county of Devon sure when we missed the godfrey Nickleby a worthy gentleman who taking it into his head rather late in life that he must get married and not being young enough or rich enough to acquire the hand that the lady of fortune and where did an old flame out of me attachment who in her turn had taken him for the same reason that's two people who cannot afford to pay cards for money sometimes sit down to a quiet game for love I really forget how old some Dickensian openings can be today I'm talking about my second least favorite Dickens novel which is Nicholas Nickleby I am much more fond of Nicholas Nickleby than Oliver Twist I should say Oliver Twist is by quite a long way my least favorite and I do have many many affections in my heart from Nicholas Nickleby especially and I did study it in my dissertation and especially as I own this rather collapsing but yet still beautiful first edition of Nicholas Nickleby which is if I say to myself quite lovely Nicholas Nickleby follows the story of a young man named quite unsurprisingly Nicholas Nickleby at the very beginning of Nicholas Nickleby his father dies leaving his mother a widow with two children Nicholas Nickleby and his sister Kate Nickleby their family are left with very little money and they become reliant for their livelihood on an uncle of Nicholas is named mr. Ralph Nickleby but mr. Alfa Nickleby is not a very nice man who kind of refuses to help them he gives them a very little help but otherwise pushes them in their own direction he sends Nicholas Nickleby off to be a school teacher in a horrible school one of the famous awful literary schools of the Victorian period jaffa boys hall run by an awful horrible really grotesque man called whacked for squares meanwhile back in London Kate Nickleby becomes a seamstress to help support her and how mother who is not really fit for any work the story kind of goes on from there following the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby as he moves around England doing various things joining various groups of people trying his hand various different things to do with his career he's probably more of an adventure story than some of Dickens's other novels and it has a pretty straightforward plot and that it's following Nicholas Nickleby in his kind of aim to make something of himself in life first off gonna talk about some things that I love about Nicholas Nickleby what I love about Nicholas Nickleby one of the things is that has a really broad cast including a lot of very different and unusual characters including the lawyer brothers the terrible's who are a pair of twin brothers who are hilarious and brilliant also includes the people that run the school for boys Hall the school and Nicholas Nickleby teaches back for squares and his wife and their daughter Fanny squares who is hilarious all fully caricatures but so so funny there's also spike who is a boy who lives and sort of works at the school Nicholas Nickleby teaches that he doesn't have anywhere to go so he's kind of been kept on at the school even though he's older than most the pupil was and he is just treated atrociously he is such a wonderful character he is possibly my favorite character and Nicholas Nickleby moving on for my great love of Smike I also love newman knox newman nogs is a brilliant brilliant character he's the clerk of Nicholas's uncle Ralph but he is much more kind-hearted than Ralph he is a little bit over the top but in a wonderful way and he's just so likeable and loveable one of those minor Dickens characters who is very eccentric but in a really beautiful way that you just want to kind of go up and give him a hug and I do love the necklace Nickleby there is such an eccentric cast of characters so Nicholas and Spike travelled quite a lot of the country meeting a lot of different people is really cool I think as well a plot structure of Nicholas Nickleby is very good it moves optim between Nicholas and his sister Kate in London in quite an effective way and I like how everything that kind of comes together in the end it's very very cleverly done and the kind of base plotline excluding all romantic plot lines is not that predictable in Nicholas Nickleby the romantic part lines are probably not even fleshed out enough to be predictable but I'll talk about that in a minute like many other Dickens novels Nicholas Nickleby is very very funny and I do think there are some brilliant passages in it especially the time Nicholas spends at dolfe boys hall the school I think that is done really really well and there are some brilliant characters and also I think the whole plot hangs quite well together however stuffily like yes about Nicholas Nickleby there is quite a lot mainly like with the majority of the first half of Dickens's work I have a issue I suppose with the presentation of women in it it's not very well developed and in fact the presentation of kind of everyone a lot of Dickens's early works is a bit more caricatured the presentations we get of women and femininity and interpretations we get of masculinity are all quite basic Kate is quite an unusual character in early dickens in the she's a central female character in the vast majority of Dickens's and early novels up and to dom been somewhere for me and for gender in Dickens everything changes up until Dombey and son most of Dickens is books are very male and they don't have that many female characters and even when they have a lot of female characters they don't tend to be the central characters and they don't tend to be nearly as important as most of the men a lot of Dickens is early works feel very male Nicholas Nickleby it's quite unusual in that it has two central characters and one of them is a woman however technically for me is not a very well-developed character in fact both Kate and Nicholas are not very well developed characters again being like in Oliver Twist the surrounding cast are much more interesting than the two central characters Nicholas Nickleby for me is a very bland hero he's kind of you know what every good hero should be is good-looking and nice and well-meaning and that's kind of it I'm technical be is virtuous and hardworking and maidenly and thetic and that's about all I just don't find all of them very engaging or interesting as central characters it's one thing to have a character that is a bit bland and therefore not very believable but it's not just that they're also not that interesting to read about and I just don't find Nathan's mecha be and especially Kate that interesting in general Nicholas Nickleby is presentation of women like the presentation of women in a lot of early Dickens is not great the women spend a lot of time fighting and crying and they don't do that much else which is a shame especially because in Dickens is later novels presentation of women and the way he deals with issues of femininity and what it means to be a woman in Victorian society are really interesting but I do find that bit tricky in Nicholas Nickleby it doesn't stop me enjoying the book I still love so many things about it but it stops me truly loving it as much as I love some of the other books another thing that grates me in Nicholas Nickleby which grates me in a lot of early Dickens is that the romantic relationships that are there are not very well developed and they're kind of assumed I'm gonna say assumed what I mean is that characters fall in love and then they're in love but you never see it you're just told that they're in love and I think in some of Dickens's later novels you have really interesting and male/female romantic relationships but in Nicholas Nickleby you just a lot of couples so I just kind of put together and nothing really happens and they've spoken to each other like twice and it's just not very satisfying to read about that's partly because Dickens seems to become a lot more interested in love as a thing in his later Norfolk than in his early ones but it's another thing that slightly irritates me about Nicholas Nickleby for example the character Madeleine who is Nicolas is loved interesting part of the book I just don't like her she just yeah she fakes a lot to give you a even stronger example of the way women are presented in Nicholas Nickleby here is an illustration from Nicholas Nickleby this is the illustration I used on the front cover of my dissertation which was about Dickens and gender and I do think it kind of sums up Nicholas Nickleby a little bit so yeah as you can tell I'm very fond of many things but Nicholas Nickleby is not my favorite before I go I'm just gonna mention one screen adaptation and that is this film from 2002 there is also a slightly longer TV movie from 2001 that I haven't yet seen but sounds really good Kate Howard recently did a review of it on her channel I will link her of you down below and I'm definitely gonna try and see that soon for now we'll talk about this I really enjoy this film it captures that really fun entertaining adventurous spirit of Nicholas Nickleby which is something I really enjoy about the book as well as kind of doing a little bit more with Kate Nickleby and making her a slightly more interesting character in terms of standing up for herself which she doesn't really do much of in the book she requires a lot of rescuing from her brother etc I think this film is just thoroughly enjoyable and Jamie Braille place Mike and his beautiful as my Khoisan I love Mike so I guess that was Nicholas Nickleby I feel like I'm gonna have a hard time persuading you I do actually love Dickens I really do I just have my issues with the Dickens as well which i think is healthy I think you should have this kind of love/hate relationship with your favorite author where you love them and you get irritated with them when they do bad things like resent women who have no personality no Dickens not okay I'm back tomorrow with another Dickens book what what is that word Dickens


  1. The first half of the novel contains some of my favorite Dickens' passages. I'm of Yorkshire descent landraced into the fertile soil and Bluegrass of Kentucky so I love the Brodies. Noggs and Smike are, for me, great characters as well. It really falls apart towards the end and feels to me like CD is stretching the story to fit a periodical goal. I thought the theater adventures were fun to read. But the last time I read it I stopped about the time the veggies flew over the wall. And what's with Victorian fainting? I've seen one young lady faint in 50 yeas and that was at a bloody crime scene. Perhaps the clothes and want of air? I don't know. Good review!

  2. This is one of my top five favourite books, probably in second place. You don't seem to like Dickens much and don't make allowances for the fact that he was writing at a time with totally different expectations. You can't expect him to write about female doctors, lawyers etc before women existed in positions of power. In his day, most women were side-lined.
    If you were wearing a whale-bone girdle, you'd do lots of fainting and swooning!

  3. I totally feel your love/hate relationships with your favorite authors. I felt like getting my masters was one long disenchantment with Shakespeare while falling in love with his works over and over again. Plays or scenes I'd found charming or sweet earlier in my life started looking ugly, and then other plays I'd known little about became new favorites! Because you love Dickens so much you expect a great deal from him, so when his early books let you down you're disappointed. Yeah?

  4. Yay for this series you're doing! I hadn't even realized it but Nicholas really is a dull hero but like all Dickens the minor characters are what hold the readers interest.

  5. I think I should read more late Dickens. :)) So far, your two least favorite books are the ones that I've read. I have Great Expectations though and want to read that; I'm also excited to hear your thoughts on that one because I loved the Cuaron film although of course it's probably very, very far from the book.

    I remember watching the Nicholas Nickleby movie!!! That's the one with Charlie Hunnam and Anne Hathaway! And yesssss, I remember really loving Jamie Bell as Smike!

  6. 'What is that word, Dickens?' Loved this, I've so been there when a word just doesn't make an sense aha. Your love for Dickens is definitely coming through, don't worry about that. It's like a marriage – sometimes he does bad things and you have to pull him up in that! 🙂

  7. I haven't read this one yet but you made me want to read it right now haha. Your first edition is beautiful! So many evil schools in Dickins haha, I admit, I love his evil schools 😉
    I need to pick this one up soon, especially since I love Dickins so much. Can't wait for tomorrows video!

  8. You have escaped my watchful eye with this novel as I have not read it! (Must be fixed soon!)

    Dickens chauvinism is unavoidable in his early novels and that picture sums it up.

    What was the secret word at the end of the video?? Tell us, do not keep the suspense up any longer! This ain't a Dickens serial to await next month for the tantalising answer!! xD

    Can I make a guess what the next novel will be? So far I know your 2 least favourite and 2 most favourite, minus E. Drood which is unfinished, I have a 10% to find the right answer: Martin Chuzzlewit!

  9. i loved the 2002 film so much that it is the reason why i read the book lol. This story is one of my favorite classics of all time and I completely agree that Smike is the best! I also love the Cheryble brothers and Noggs and even though i do agree that Nicholas is one dimensional, the pure goodness of his heart makes me love him dearly as a character. Kate is sweet but dear gosh i was just like "STAND UP FOR YOURSELF! DO NOT PUT UP WITH RALPH NICKLEBY!". I actually enjoyed Nicholas's love story/interest and found it much more believable than Kate's (even though i like the guy, being vague in case people haven't read it). I am excited to reread iit because sometimes I get the movie and the book muddled in my head so it will be interesting to see which events i mixed up or forgot. I also need to see the 2001 miniseries because that cast looks just as wonderful as 2002.

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