Left penniless by the death of his improvident father, young Nicholas Nickleby assumes responsibility for his mother and sister and seeks help from his Scrooge-like Uncle Ralph. Instantly disliking Nicholas, Ralph sends him to teach in a school run by the stupidly sadistic Wackford Squeers. Nicholas decides to escape, taking with him the orphan Smike, one of Squeers's most abused young charges, and the two embark on a series of adventurous encounters with an array of humanity's worst and best-greedy fools, corrupt lechers, cheery innocents, and selflessbenefactors.
Though one of Dickens's earliest works, Nicholas Nickleby features many of his familiar trademarks: a long, complex plot full of surprising twists, unexpected revelations, and jaw-dropping coincidences; a crowded cast of colorful (and memorably named) characters, among them Vincent Crummles, Newman Noggs, and Sir Mulberry Hawk; and an emotionally potent mix of wildly exuberant comedy, deeply moving melodrama, and passionate social criticism fueled by Dickens's own childhood experiences of poverty and injustice.
Jill Muller was born in England and educated at Mercy College and Columbia University. She currently teaches at Mercy College and Columbia University and is working on a book about the Victorian poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, to be published by Routledge.
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