Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nicholas Nickleby III

Nicholas Nickleby ends well for Nicholas and his sister Kate. Along with their mother they can look forward to a much brighter future than the one that they faced as the novel began. In creating this 'happy' ending Dickens left many of the most eccentric comic characters by the wayside, gone are the Crummles and Miss Knagg along with other minor characters buried amongst the many, many pages of the early sections of the novel.
Whether this is a flaw in the novel (perhaps) or not the last section of the story does move rapidly to tie up loose ends and provide answers to the more intricate mysteries of relations among the characters. For the details of these answers I suggest you read the novel.

In spite of its seeming lack of structure, a claim which is belied by the strong arcs of both Nicholas' education in life and Ralph Nickleby's search for rewards for his greed and miserliness, the novel is Dickens' first success in the genre (his previous three books being journalistic and picaresque treats, but not novels). One theme that is embodied in this novel is expressed by Newman Noggs as Nicholas despairs that the schemes of Ralph and Arthur Gride will defeat him, his family and Madeline Bray (his one true love). Newman responds with what may be considered the main theme of the novel:

'Hope to the last,' said Newman, clapping him on the back. 'Always hope, that's a dear boy. Never leave off hoping, it don't answer. Don't leave a stone unturned. It's always something to know know you've done the most you could. But don't leave off hoping, or it's of no use doing anything. Hope, hope to the last!'
- p. 641, Nicholas Nickleby

As I reader you have hope for the good in Nicholas and Newman and John Browdie with the support of the Cherryble brothers; and, you have hope that the evil of Ralph Nickleby, Gride and Squeers will receive justice. You hope to the last.

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Penguin Classics, New York. 2003 (1839).

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