Charles Dickens' Terrible Childhood

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While researching the life of Charles Dickens, whether it be how he lived as a child or as an adult, Charles Dickens had written A Christmas Carol for a reason. Dickens has had a dreadful childhood, where he had to overcome many good things and bad things in life which many children of his age did not have to endure. Even at an old age, Dickens struggled with many illnesses, mental and physical, but still managed to be the wonderful writer he is considered as today. The past of Charles Dickens will show that he was a phenomenal writer, but he had a past to prove it.

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Charles Dickens's life was dreadful from the start. At a young age, Dickens's father was imprisoned for bad debt (BBC). Charles Dickens's family excluded him from their trip to Marshalsea, which was were his family would go to do labor and pay off their debts(Ibid).Dickens was not affected by the debt so “Charles was sent to work in Warren's blacking factory and endured appalling conditions as well as loneliness and despair.”(Ibid). After 3 years of working in the factory Dickens was sent back to school, but his experience was never forgotten, so he decided to use his past to write two novels.(Ibid). Charles Dickens was significantly inspired by all of the hard labor he had endured and after writing his first two novels. Dickens, then like almost every author, started off as a journalist, and was working with his father who became a reporter(Ibid). Together they were able to write The Mirror of Parliament and The True Sun(Ibid). Charles Dickens continued to write as a journalist and became a parliamentary journalist for the Morning Chronicle in 1833. In April 1836 Dickens married Catherine Hogarth(Ibid). In the same month of his marriage Dickens published the highly successful Pickwick Papers. After writing all of these successful novels, Dickens knew that there was no looking back in his career, and he would have to continue what he was best at: writing(Ibid). Throughout the beginning of his career and every event leading up to the writing of A Christmas Carol, Dickens didn't know that he was building a reputation as a writer. By becoming a journalist and writing small novels it had inspired him to write A Christmas Carol.

Not only did Charles Dickens have a dreadful childhood, but a lousy adulthood too. One illness that Dickens had was a torrential chemical imbalance(Bragg.,117). “It fueled his art, but it ruined every relationship he had.”(Ibid.,117).This disease made it so before Dickens started to write he “charged his battery” by walking ten to twenty miles every day before sitting down to write anything, which was why everyone stayed away from him, including his children(Ibid.,118). “Scrooge was a mean, stingy person who doesn’t like children.”(Ibid.,118). These quotes show exactly who Charles Dickens was and proves that his disease ruined every relationship that he ever had. A quote from his book, which says, “Let me hear another sound from you,’ said Scrooge, ‘and you’ll keep Christmas by losing your situation!”, proves this point once again(Dickens.,11). Dickens also had other illnesses including kidney stones and his left arm not moving or going in the opposite direction, walking around in circles when he wanted to go straight, and gout(Bragg.,119,120). Not only did Dickens have many illnesses but he also disliked his wife and kids. “Dickens never said anything nice about his wife, Catherine. He considered his ten children to be disappointing, expensive, and messy.”(Ibid.,119). Dickens's children thought that he had an obsessive compulsive disorder because whenever Dickens had a daily inspection of their rooms and found that a chair was out of place he would get very angry with them(Ibid.,119). On top of Dickens wanting everything to be perfect he also gave his children nicknames like Flaster Floby and Chickenstalker (Ibid.,119). Charles Dickens continued to be as grumpy as he was and knew that he would never change but still continued to write and one day traveled all over England and America by train, dramatizing his stories in theaters and playing all the characters himself(Ibid.,119). Since Dickens had so many issues, all of his doctors told him to stop performing, but nobody ever got away with telling Dickens what to do. With that Dickens threw a raging fit that no one ever forgot(Ibid.,121). All of these quotes show that in his real life, Dickens acted to people, including his children, like a person who dislikes everyone who doesn't comply or agree with his way of everything, just like in A Christmas Carol.

Charles Dickens was partially paralyzed, walking in circles, and unable to see half of what he was looking at. Even with all of these complications, Dickens was still able to write very easily(Ibid.,121). Dickens was still touring and during each performance he would show off, bow, wait for applause, and finally limp offstage and collapse(Ibid.,121). Also, Dickens now had to have a doctor in the wings of each show he had(Ibid.,121). Whenever his doctor gave Dickens advice, he would never listen to him, which completely went against the point of having a medic with him. Dickens did not have a normal life, but with having that he was able to have another reason or story to inspire him as a writer and put his life story in a book. “Dickens's own story was like a rages-to-riches fairy tale.”(Henderson and Sharpe.,1462). As a child Charles Dickens had a dreadful life, as said before, but he went from being a nobody to being a somebody. Just as he did in his book, A Christmas Carol. Instead of getting rich after being poor, he turns from being a grumpy old man, who hates children and Christmas to a man who is cheerful and loves everything and has the highest spirits about everything. “I wish to be left alone.’ said Scrooge. ‘Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.”(Dickens.,13). What a horrible person Scrooge was at the beginning of the story. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family”(Ibid.,90). By the end of the story Scrooge has changed for the better having to learn the hard way; in Dickens's real life, where he had to work very hard as a young boy in a factory to get his inspiration to become a journalist and soon become one of the most famous writers ever to live. Both from Charles Dickens's life and Scrooge's life in A Christmas Carol they both started from either having nothing money wise, or having nothing in the heart. Likewise, they both worked hard to transform themselves for the better and do everything in their power to be the best that they can be, no matter what obstacles they had to face, whether it be debts, hard labor, illnesses, or a bad attitude for life, they continued to persevere and they were able to achieve their goals even if they needed a little help from people to do it. Dickens was able to show in his book and in real life how he was able to go from having a bad attitude for life to being very happy for everyone and being grateful for what he has. By having this happen in real life, it resulted in him writing A Christmas Carol from real life experiences.

Not only did Charles Dickens have bad events in his life, he also had some good things too. After writing all of his books, Charles Dickens had gone from being an uneducated boy laborer, to a famous writer making money for doing what he loved most. Charles Dickens's wealth also was portrayed in his book A Christmas Carol but instead of being just wealthy, in addition to that Scrooge is also utterly cheap. In Dickens's book he describes Scrooge's magnificent house and everything inside and outside of it(Dickens.,9). Not only did it describe his house, it also showed how cheap of a man he was. He only let himself have a very small fire in his house just so that he would be able save money. By doing this it would mean having to keep him cold, but then again Scrooge never got cold(Ibid.,9). Scrooge was not only being cheap to himself but to his clerk, too. His clerk, Bob Cratchit, did not even have as big of a fire as Scrooge. Dickens writes, "Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal."(Ibid.,9). Dickens also shows Scrooge's wealth in the description of his house. Dickens shows that Scrooge has a large house by saying that even half a dozen gas lamps on the wall would not light the entry too well(Ibid.,17). Scrooge also shows that he is cheap when he says that he is only using one single candle that barely is lighting room which is almost pitch black.(Ibid.,17). Another example of wealth in A Christmas Carol is when Scrooge says "paved all around with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures. There were Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters, Queens of Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like feather- beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles putting off to sea in butter boats."(Ibid.,17). What Dickens is showing is that all of the floor tiles in the room are handcrafted by a Dutch merchant which must have been a lot of money to spend, looking at all of the detail that was put into making different scenes of important history into floor tiles just for someone to admire as they either work in their room or as they slumber(Ibid.,17). Dickens's real life wealth can be shown by a specific disease that only rich people were likely to get. This condition is called gout. This is a excruciatingly painful disease people get from living too large on rich food and alcohol(Bragg.,120). "The pain of gout feels something like a shark taking a bite out of your toe."(Ibid.,120). All of the evidence that Dickens was a rich person shows in real life and in his book. By being rich in real life, it inspired Dickens to make Scrooge rich in A Christmas Carol.

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From examining the life of Charles Dickens, whether it be his adulthood or his childhood, both of these have critically influenced him to write his book "A Christmas Carol". No matter what obstacles Dickens would have, he would always try to overcome them . If he had to do hard labor, he would do it, if he had an illness, he would do everything in his nature to surmount these obstacles. Charles Dickens was able to conquer these complications with perseverance and determination. He was able to become a man from almost nothing, to somebody. Dickens was able to surpass many obstacles even if he stumbled many times. The more Dickens tried, the more he accomplished and this has shaped him into the father of literature.

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Charles Dickens’ Terrible Childhood. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from
“Charles Dickens’ Terrible Childhood.” GradesFixer, 12 Mar. 2019,
Charles Dickens’ Terrible Childhood. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Oct. 2023].
Charles Dickens’ Terrible Childhood [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Mar 12 [cited 2023 Oct 4]. Available from:
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