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The Dickens Project - Archives > Nicholas Nickleb - Chapters 36-40

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments The thread is now open to discuss the next section (chapters 36-40. Please post your thoughts and ideas below.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments This new section for discussion is a wonderful combination of tragedy, happy and narrow escape, satire, and irony. Luck is an elusive ‘ingredient’ in our life. Sometimes it favors us (Smike and John Browdie), and sometimes it avoids us (Nicholas and his futile attempt to find the gorgeous lady of his dreams). And it seems that even Mrs. Nickleby might have a second chance in her life – though the attempts to woo are somewhat strange and funny. Knowing Mrs. Nickleby, it is easy to assume that she will imagine something absolutely unrealistic, and then her hopes will be painfully dashed.
I am happy that Dickens has not forgotten his cameo characters – the Kenwigs and the Browdie family. While the latter man represents a happy occurrence for Smike, the former family is there to show the pretentious happiness and the greedy desire to inherit money – as soon as the news is announced that Mr. Lillyvick is happily married, Mr. Kenwigs even declares pathetically that he does not need his newly born baby.
The Cheerybles are not realistic and way too happy, financially stable, and excited to be true. This definitely impedes my perception of those siblings as human beings, but Kate, Nicholas, Smike, Newman, and even Mrs. Nickleby need a little bit of good luck and a hope to survive in this rude and merciless world. Consequently, they (the Cheerybles) might be defined as ‘necessary good’


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Lynnm | 3027 comments I just watched the 2002 film version of Nicholas Nickleby with Charlie Hunnam. It was very good, but sadly, I now know the ending. Of course, I won't give any spoilers. :-) But I had to watch it because today was the last day that Netflix had it via streaming.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Lynnm wrote: "I just watched the 2002 film version of Nicholas Nickleby with Charlie Hunnam. It was very good, but sadly, I now know the ending. Of course, I won't give any spoilers. :-) But I had to watch it ..."

I watched it two or three years ago, and it basically follows the book, but there are some slight deviations form the canonical:-) version. Now spoilers only for those who watched this 2002 version (view spoiler)


Mari Mann (marimann) | 43 comments Zulfiya wrote: "This new section for discussion is a wonderful combination of tragedy, happy and narrow escape, satire, and irony. Luck is an elusive ‘ingredient’ in our life. Sometimes it favors us (Smike and Jo..."

Zulfiya, I have enjoyed your encapsulations of each section as we begin them very much! You have a very fine way of revealing the threads and themes as well as the events as they unfold. We are very fortunate to have you as moderator!


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Mari wrote: "Zulfiya wrote: "This new section for discussion is a wonderful combination of tragedy, happy and narrow escape, satire, and irony. Luck is an elusive ‘ingredient’ in our life. Sometimes it favors ..."

Why, thank you so much, Mary. The pleasure of moderating this discussion can hardly be described. It is one of the most rewarding reading experiences in my life. And it is rewarding primarily because I am reading this book in a company of wonderful and insightful people.


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Robin P | 2116 comments Mod
I agree you are doing a great job, Zulfiya, and I so appreciate the comments of all our contributors!


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Robin wrote: "I agree you are doing a great job, Zulfiya, and I so appreciate the comments of all our contributors!"

You make me blush. Thank you.


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Hedi | 961 comments Zulfiya, also thanks from my side for doing all of this. For me, it sometimes is already hard to fit in the amount of pages into my week, but you are preparing and posting so much, too. So I really appreciate this, as well.

Related to the chapters we have just read:

I was a little irritated by Mr. Kenwigs's reaction of Mr. Lillyvick's marriage. I do understand his anger about not getting the possible inheritance for his children, but to more or less reject his newborn child, who is above all his first son - which was esp. in those days a major occurrence - I do not really comprehend.

Zulfiya, you mentioned the Cheerybles as being unreal.
I was thinking a similar thing. To me it is still not clear how much money they actually make, so they can be so financially generous. We know that they have not been well educated. So it is really difficult to understand how they have made their way and got so financially independent that they can so easily help others. It does seem unreal, but as I stated yesterday in the thread of the previous chapters, I think Dickens wanted to create this counterpole of good versus the evil in form of Squeers and Ralph Nickleby. It at least keeps up the hopes that there still might be a positive future for all of the "poorly treated" characters.


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Hedi | 961 comments Lynnm wrote: "I just watched the 2002 film version of Nicholas Nickleby with Charlie Hunnam. It was very good, but sadly, I now know the ending. Of course, I won't give any spoilers. :-) But I had to watch it ..."

I saw it about a year ago and liked it very much. That was actually the trigger for me to buy the book besides my general likeness of Dickens. In the meantime my Dickens book collection is complete - just need time to read everything, but with this project I might get there :-).


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Lynnm | 3027 comments I really liked Chapters 36-40 - and a lot happened in those five chapters.

Like others, Mr. Kenwig really annoyed me with his reaction to Mr. Lillyvick's marriage. All greed. And he admitted that he was nice to Mr. Lillyvick so he could get his money. It always annoys me when I read that people wait for their rich relatives to die so they can have their money. And some people need help, but Mr. Kenwig seems capable enough to make his own money.

I felt sorry for Smike. He's a bit sad according to Miss LaCreevy (and I think we can quess why given his conversation with Newman). Then, Squeers abducts him. But I just loved John Browdie's role in setting Smike free. He's such a good natured guy, and shows his good heart that he knows what a rogue Squeers is. And I just love seeing terrible people get crossed when they doing something horrible, especially to someone without the same power. :-)

Mrs. Nickleby is acting like a twit again, with the attentions of the man next door. Enough said. Although I can imagine that she must be lonely, and the attentions of anyone would be welcome.

And nice to see that Nicholas is in love. :-)


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Lynnm | 3027 comments As for the comments that the Cheeryables are unreal:

I agree, but as others have said, they offset Ralph and Squeers...both of whom I think are exaggerated as well.

But I also think that Dickens - who as we all know takes aim at the business world quite often - might be saying that business doesn't have to be cutthroat and primarily for greed. You can run a business, care for your employees who can then care for their families, and therefore, have loyal employees.


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Jan (auntyjan) | 483 comments The Cheerybles.....have you not met people who seem to be pretty much positive in their attitude most of the time?
That said, it must be borne in mind that many of Dickens characters have an element of caricature about them....the good are super good, the bad are the meanest, nastiest wiliest creatures that ever wormed their way across the face of the earth......so we should not be surprised that they might seem a little too good to be true (or too evil as the case may be). I think he consistently creates characters that are larger than life...it's all part of his brilliant storytelling. He keeps us intrigued by the depiction of these people. It makes you wonder about the influence of the theatre in his writing...his characters are certainly theatrical.....and if you think about it, this is what you would have seen on stage at that time...characters portrayed so vividly that the audience could clearly identify various types....the villain, the country farmer, the greedy old man, the fool, the innocent young girl, the chattery housewife...and so on. Caricatures, larger than life portrayals, were common theatrical devices to help the audience know what to expect...I think this almost comic book portrayal is frequently used by Dickens. Bear in mind also that many of his works were published episodically, so this exaggerated portrayal of types would help his readership recall the characters from one week to the next.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments The Cheerybles (quite a symbolic and indicative name) are definitely way too good to be true, but I also think Dickens tries to find a balance between the good and the bad. And if he exaggerates the bad (and he obviously does), thus he has to heighten the good to match them in power and influence. I personally think that his characters are never realistic, but that is one of the reason why they are so memorable and easily stand out in the line of cornucopia of other fictitious characters.
Concerning their attitude to business and their somewhat reckless treatment of money (I mean the Cheerybles), I might hint that in his later novel 'Dombey and Son' Dickens makes a nice observations how much money one needs to stay happy. I can't say that he changes his attitude, but he definitely tries to find a certain balance between money and human happiness.

Hedi, thank you again for your uplifting remark. Sometimes I find it hard to stick to the schedule because it turns into a routine, but it is also true that the responsibility of a moderator is the best incentive:-) The main thing is I am truly enjoying this reading journey. And what a journey it is!!! I sincerely hope we can all stay together and even get more people in this pleasant ordeal:-) of reading all Dickens novels. It is definitely an ambitious project. But as experience shows, those who do not risk, do not drink champagne. Cheers to the project and its present and future participants!!!


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Robin P | 2116 comments Mod
Thanks, Jan, for your comments about the theatrical nature of the characters. "Realism" as a literary form wasn't in vogue yet. In fact Dickens was more "realistic" than many contemporaries, in showing all levels of society and at least some characters with good and bad attributes (for instance Nancy in Oliver Twist.)

As popular entertainment in serial form, this book would have been enjoyed by people as a TV show would today. Many probably didn't think they were reading a "classic of literature". They just wanted to laugh and cry and care about the characters.

For me the exaggeration is what makes the evil characters laughable (at least sometimes) instead of just horrifying. Squeers and Mr Kenwigs are predictably over the top in their greed, and you know they will get their comeuppance. On the other hand Ralph is never funny and he's much more of a threat.


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Lynnm | 3027 comments Jan wrote: "The Cheerybles.....have you not met people who seem to be pretty much positive in their attitude most of the time?
That said, it must be borne in mind that many of Dickens characters have an elemen..."


Nice post. The caricatures are definitely signature Dickens, and for me, that's what makes Dickens so enjoyable. Here, they can be amusing at times. Although now and then - as with Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Hard Times - the caricatures are far more ominous.


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Lynnm | 3027 comments I forgot to post last night that I was pleased to see Lord Frederick finally stand up and act as a man in his position and with his breeding should act when he defended Nicholas for defending Kate.

Although I realize my reaction is from reading far too many 18th and 19th century novels and watching far too British period pieces, and having higher expectations for the aristocracy in the 1700 and 1800s than would realistic in real time. :-)


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