Whether studying Charles Dickens classic works of English literature was a highlight of your high school experience or a weekly ordeal you tried desperately to avoid, it’s worth revisiting this juggernaut of Victorian literature now that you’re all grown up. No matter how your first experience of the cold and muggy streets of Victorian London went down you’ve got to admit, Dickens could spin a yarn and he is responsible for giving us some of the most insightful and often-quoted passages in literary history.
Read on for 9 Charles Dickens quotes you had forgotten were so profound.
Lauded as Dicken’s first fully-rounded female character, Estella is born and bred to make men’s lives a misery and successfully breaks poor Pip’s heart. But by the end of Great Expectations, Estella has endured an unhappy marriage and been bent and broken – she hopes – into a better shape.
A wonderful fact to reflect upon or a cripplingly sad and terrifying fact to ignore? The narrator of A Tale of Two Cities is of the opinion that this inscrutability is a great thing while the characters spend the majority of the novel trying desperately to understand each other.
Even those who haven’t read A Tale of Two Cities are probably familiar with this line. You’d be waiting for it to turn up all the way through the book anyway so it’s not a spoiler to say that it’s the last line and it’s spoken by main character Sydney Carton as he sacrifices himself for love.
Charles Dicken’s beautiful description of London and Paris during the mid-nineteenth century and the brink of the French Revolution has gone down in history as one of the most evocative opening passages to a novel, ever. The quote goes on, “…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Taken from the last novel written by Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, this quote is both a sharp piece of detective work and a simple ode to the enchantment of the written word.
And earnestness is important, after all. In the world’s Charles Dickens creates, the moral characters, the ones who work hard and are true to themselves and others, are the ones who make it alright in the end.
That no one ever died of a broken heart is no comfort to the broken-hearted and nor is it true. Miss Havisham, Dicken’s most famous character, might as well be dead as she lives out all of her days in the costume of the jilted bride, wandering around her rotting mansion and making other peoples’ lives a misery.
Is David Copperfield the hero of his own life? You’ll have to read the novel to find out.
Written in 1838, true for all time.