The second of eight children, he grew up in a family frequently beset by financial insecurity. When the family fortunes improved, Charles went back to… More about Charles Dickens. Hardcover —. Add to Cart. About Nicholas Nickleby Charles Dickens had an understanding of mid-Victorian society second to none, and genius and energy massive enough to make the absurdities and terrors of that society come alive on the page. Also by Charles Dickens. See all books by Charles Dickens.
Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Paul Schlicke examines how it led to the growth of commercial entertainment and the presence of these new cultural forms in the novels of Charles Dickens. A Christmas book by Charles Dickens — , published in Dickens was prompted to write this Nicholas Nickleby. Explore further Related articles. Dickens the performer Article by: Simon Callow Theme: The novel — Simon Callow CBE examines Dickens as an actor who gave lively and emotional performances of his own works to an enthralled public on both sides of the Atlantic.
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Later, after Hawk has recovered, they quarrel over Hawk's insistence on revenging himself against Nicholas. Verisopht strikes Hawk, resulting in a duel. Verisopht is killed, and Hawk flees to France. As a result, Ralph loses a large sum of money owed to him by the deceased lord. Nicholas collects Kate from the Wittiterlys, and with their mother and Smike, they move back into Miss LaCreevy's house. Nicholas pens a letter to Ralph, refusing, on behalf of his family, a penny of his uncle's money or influence.
Returning to the employment office, Nicholas meets Charles Cheeryble, a wealthy and extremely benevolent merchant who runs a business with his twin brother Ned. Hearing Nicholas's story, the brothers take him into their employ at a generous salary and provide his family with a small house in a London suburb. Ralph encounters a beggar, who recognises him and reveals himself as Brooker, Ralph's former employee. He attempts to blackmail Ralph with a piece of unknown information, but is driven off.
Returning to his office, Ralph receives Nicholas's letter and begins plotting against his nephew in earnest. Wackford Squeers returns to London and joins Ralph in his plots. Smike, on a London street, has the misfortune to run into Squeers, who kidnaps him. Luckily for Smike, John Browdie is honeymooning in London with his new wife Tilda and discovers his predicament.
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When they have dinner with Squeers, Browdie fakes an illness and takes the opportunity to rescue Smike and send him back to Nicholas. In gratitude, Nicholas invites the Browdies to dinner. At the party, also attended by the Cheerybles's nephew Frank and their elderly clerk Tim Linkinwater, Ralph and Squeers attempt to reclaim Smike by presenting forged documents to the effect that he is the long-lost son of a man named Snawley who, in actuality, is a friend of Squeers with children at Dotheboys Hall.
Smike refuses to go, but the threat of legal action remains.
While at work, Nicholas encounters the beautiful young woman he had seen in the employment office and realises he is in love with her. The brothers tell him that her name is Madeline Bray, the penniless daughter of a debtor, Walter Bray, and enlist his help in obtaining small sums of money for her by commissioning her artwork, the only way they can help her due to her tyrannical father. Arthur Gride, an elderly miser, offers to pay a debt Ralph is owed by Walter Bray in exchange for the moneylender's help.
Gride has illegally gained possession of the will of Madeline's grandfather, and she will become an heiress upon the event of her marriage. The two moneylenders persuade Bray to bully his daughter into accepting the disgusting Gride as a husband, with the promise of paying off his debts. Ralph is not aware of Nicholas's involvement with the Brays, and Nicholas does not discover Ralph's scheme until the eve of the wedding.
He appeals to Madeline to cancel the wedding, but despite her feelings for Nicholas, she is too devoted to her dying father to go against his wishes. On the day of the wedding, Nicholas attempts to stop it once more but his efforts prove academic when Bray, guilt-ridden at the sacrifice his daughter has made for him, dies unexpectedly. Madeline thus has no reason to marry Gride and Nicholas and Kate take her to their house to recover. Smike has contracted tuberculosis and become dangerously ill. In a last attempt to save his friend's health, Nicholas takes him to his childhood home in Devonshire, but Smike's health rapidly deteriorates.
On his deathbed, Smike is startled to see the man who brought him to Squeers's school. Nicholas dismisses it as an illusion but it is later revealed that Smike was right. After confessing his love for Kate, Smike dies peacefully in Nicholas's arms.
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
When they return to Gride's home after the aborted wedding, Ralph and Gride discover that Peg Sliderskew, Gride's aged housekeeper, has robbed Gride, taking, amongst other things, the will. To get it back, Ralph enlists Wackford Squeers's services to track down Peg.
Noggs discovers this plot, and with the help of Frank Cheeryble, he is able to recover the will and have Squeers arrested. The Cheeryble brothers confront Ralph, informing him that his various schemes against Nicholas have failed. They advise him to retire from London before charges are brought up against him, as Squeers is determined to confess all and implicate Ralph.
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He refuses their help, but is summoned back to their offices that evening and told that Smike is dead. When he reacts to the news with vicious glee, the brothers reveal their final card. The beggar Brooker emerges, and tells Ralph that Smike was his own son. As a young man, Ralph had married a woman for her fortune, but kept it secret so she would not forfeit her inheritance for marrying without her brother's consent, and wait for the brother to die. She eventually left him after bearing him a son, whom he entrusted to Brooker, who was then his clerk. Brooker, taking the opportunity for vengeance, took the boy to Squeers' school and told Ralph the boy had died.
Brooker now repents his action, but a transportation sentence kept him from putting the matter right.
Devastated at the thought that his only son died as the best friend of his greatest enemy, Ralph commits suicide. His ill-gotten fortune ends up in the state coffers because he died intestate and his estranged relatives decline to claim it. Squeers is sentenced to transportation to Australia, and, upon hearing this, the boys at Dotheboys Hall rebel against the Squeers family and escape with the assistance of John Browdie.
Nicholas becomes a partner in the Cheerybles' firm and marries Madeline. Brooker dies penitent. Noggs recovers his respectability.
The Nicklebys and their now extended family return to Devonshire, where they live in peace and contentment and grieve over Smike's grave. As in most of Dickens 's works, there is a sprawling number of characters in the book. The major characters in Nicholas Nickleby include:. While some consider the book to be among the finest works of 19th-century comedy, Nicholas Nickleby is occasionally criticised for its lack of character development.
The novel has been adapted for stage, film or television at least seven times. The production received both critical and popular acclaim. All of the actors played multiple roles because of the huge number of characters, except for Roger Rees , who played Nicholas, and David Threlfall , who played Smike due to the large amount of time they were on stage. The play moved to Broadway in In the RSC had the show recorded as three two-hour and one three-hour episode for Channel 4 , where it became the channel's first drama.
In Edgar prepared a shorter version for a production at the Chichester Festival ,  which transferred in December and January to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End. The most recent theatre adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby as a musical was performed by The Bedford Marianettes. The music, lyrics and libretto were written by Tim Brewster and are available for both professional and amateur production.
An early theatrical version actually appeared before publication of the serialised novel was finished, with the resolution of the stage play wildly different from the finished novel. Dickens' offence at this plagiarism prompted him to have Nicholas encounter a "literary gentleman" in chapter forty-eight of the novel. In response Nicholas delivers a lengthy and heated condemnation of the practice of adapting still-unfinished books without the author's permission, going so far as to say:.