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Why should you read Charles Dickens? - Iseult Gillespie

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The starving orphan seeking a second helping of gruel. The spinster wasting away in her tattered wedding dress. The stone-hearted miser plagued by the ghost of Christmas past. More than a century after his death, these remain recognizable figures from the work of Charles Dickens. But what are the features of Dickens’ writing that make it so special? Iseult Gillespie investigates.

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TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Asparuh Petrov
  • Producer Vessela Dantcheva
  • Art Director Asparuh Petrov
  • Animator Atanas Filipov
  • Layout Artist Atanas Filipov, Asparuh Petrov
  • Designer Atanas Filipov
  • Sound Designer Ivailo Stefanov, Alexander Daniel, Alexander Evtimov
  • Composer Ivailo Stefanov, Alexander Daniel, Alexander Evtimov
  • Associate Producer Elizabeth Cox, Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Dickens’ writing is distinctive enough to warrant its own adjective—but what are the multiple meanings of “Dickensian” today? This article offers many ideas (and some criticism) about the term. Click on the following for TED-Ed’s take on other literary figures who have engendered their own adjective—George Orwell and Franz Kafka.

As a writer, Dickens was prolific, with his works totaling about 9,000 pages. Read one critic’s travels through Dickens’ complete works here. At the original time of publication, these hefty works were serialized. Learn more about serialization here. Then, watch this documentary to learn about the historical context for Dickens’ novels, specifically England during the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution brought an explosion of new ideas and technology—but it also created a new era of urban poverty where workers (many of whom were children) were without rights. Dickens not only criticized this in his novels, but attacked state-sanctioned labor in his nonfiction writings. This article examines how successful his efforts were.

Over a century after his death, Dickens remains a beloved figure for his sense of wit and wonder. You can listen to a detailed documentary about his many achievements and personal life here.
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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Asparuh Petrov
  • Producer Vessela Dantcheva
  • Art Director Asparuh Petrov
  • Animator Atanas Filipov
  • Layout Artist Atanas Filipov, Asparuh Petrov
  • Designer Atanas Filipov
  • Sound Designer Ivailo Stefanov, Alexander Daniel, Alexander Evtimov
  • Composer Ivailo Stefanov, Alexander Daniel, Alexander Evtimov
  • Associate Producer Elizabeth Cox, Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

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