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Examine in detail Dickens' portrayal of the flaws in the Victorian education system in his novel 'Nicholas Nickleby'. What were his aims in presenting Dotheboys Hall to his readers? To extent was he successful in achieving his aims?

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Examine in detail Dickens' portrayal of the flaws in the Victorian education system in his novel 'Nicholas Nickleby'. What were his aims in presenting Dotheboys Hall to his readers? To extent was he successful in achieving his aims? Charles Dickens was one of the most popular writers in the history of literature. He was born on the 7th February 1812 in Portsmouth. Dickens spent most of his childhood in London and in Kent, both which appear frequently in his novels. As a young man he went on to write many famous novels such as 'David Copperfield', 'A Christmas Carol' and 'Nicholas Nickleby'. 'Nicholas Nickleby' was written and serialised between 1838 and 1839 it was then later published as a novel in 1839 and then again in 1848. The novel is about a man called Nicholas Nickleby who went to work as a young teacher at an all boys' boarding school in Yorkshire set in early Victorian times. All his successes were shadowed by domestic unhappiness. Dickens' relations with a young actress called Ellen Ternan led to his separation from his wife in 1858. Unfortunately a Stroke led to his death on the 9th June 1870 and he was buried in Westminster. The focus of the novel is about the adventures and mis-fortunes of Nicholas Nickleby. Dotheboys Hall is a boys' boarding school set in Yorkshire. It is thought that it may be based on another school called 'Bowes Academy' which was also set in Yorkshire. ...read more.


W-i-n, win, d-e-r, der, winder, a casement. When a boy knows this out of book, he goes and does it." His lack of education shows us that he does not care about the boys' own education, and proves he's only in this situation because of the money. Every half year Mr Squeers makes the journey down south to the 'metropolis' (London). He visits parents of some boys to tell them how well their son is doing at school. The boys are so far away from home so he can get away with his cruelty and beatings upon the boys. "Bolders father was two pound ten short. Where is Bolder?" Bolder is very unhealthy looking boy with many warts and Squeers dislikes him because of this. He describes them a 'disgusting' and 'dirty' so he falls upon him and beats him. Although Squeers did not physically beat Cobbey and Graymarsh, what he says hurts them just as much. Mr Squeers has no consideration for their feelings and shares upsetting and personal information with rest of the school. "Cobbey's grandmother is dead, and his uncle John has took to drinking." This is very insensitive and shows how low and callous he can scoop to. Nicholas Nickleby has become very dejected and feels dishonoured by the consciousness of his position after Squeers has finished reading the letters out and leaves the room. "Leaving Nicholas to take care of the boys in the schoolroom, which was very cold, and where a meal of bread and cheese was served out shortly after dark." ...read more.


As the novel reaches its closing stages Mr Squeers' success rate falls rapidly as people become ware of his vindictiveness. "The news of Mr Squeers' downfall had reached Dotheboys." Mr Squeers is arrested and his wife is left to cope all on her own. The boys at this time have seen how she is not coping and begin to rebel against her. A riot breaks loose and the boys take revenge by force-feeding Mrs Squeers the Brimstone and Treacle she has made them eat so many times before. Squeers' cruelty and evilness all came to a close as his school is shut down, like many true schools of this kind. Following publication of 'Nicholas Nickleby' some say that Dotheboys Hall was based on a true school in Yorkshire called Bowes Academy. William Shaw was the proprietor and he was just as evil as Wackford Squeers. William Shaw was also prosecuted and his school was shut down after on of the boys in his care went mysteriously went blind. Dickens had always disapproved of the state of the education board during his lifetime. He loathed the way in which children were being abused at school and severely beaten. In the same year as Dickens died in 1870, William Forster introduced his Education Bill, which was the Education Reform Act of 1870. He aimed to open more schools and to make them much more enhanced. Dickens would have loved to see this happen, as he probably had a lot to do with the change due to the plot of 'Nicholas Nickleby' and his contributions before his death. ...read more.

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