Charles Dickens Questions and Answers

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How was he influential to the public?

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Charles Dickens had public influence during his life through his fiction and nonfiction. The social issues that Dickens highlights in the novels helped to bring public attention to the serious problems that pervaded Victorian English society. As the novels were originally published in serial form, appearing in installments in magazines, more people became acquainted with them than just those who purchased books. Among the problems he emphasized were those that affected children, such as the brutal conditions of orphanages and the use of child labor in factories. More generally, he decried the harsh treatment of poor people, including through the legal system, such as the Poor Laws. Overall, he was a strong critic of industrialization and the resulting increase in social stratification, including the excessive power that factory owners had over the workers.

Outside of England, Dickens traveled in the United States and wrote a nonfictional account of his visit. American Notes includes a strong critique of slavery.

Dickens was a journalist as well as fiction writer, and also involved in the publishing industry. He became the editor of his own magazine, giving him greater control over publishing his work. He later established the periodical Household Words. In addition, Dickens gave numerous public readings of his works; this method both reflected and increased his popularity.

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