The Imperfect Child: Romanticizing and Socializing the Victorian Child in the Works of Charles Dickens and His Children

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Illinois State University, 2008 - Children's literature - 452 pages
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The 'ideal' Victorian child was a construct but not a possibility within Victorian culture though the imperfect child was attainable. The ideas of children and childhood developed rapidly over the Victorian era and along with it literacy and reading material for the emerging mass reading public. Children's Literature was one of the developing areas for publishers and readers alike, yet this did not stop the reading public from bringing home works not expressly intended for children and reading to their family. Within the idealized middle class family circle, authors such as Charles Dickens were read and appreciated by members of all ages. The upper and working classes also found pleasure and delight in the reading of Dickens's work but nonetheless he did not write expressly for children. Dickens's work, much of which focuses on children and childhood, was admired and read by many authors that came after him, some of who knew him personally and even others who did not. Nevertheless, his work influenced others and their writing and children read his works. By examining Dickens's works Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Dombey and Son, Little Dorrit, all of which contain the imperfect child and placing them alongside Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies and George MacDonald's At The Back of The North Wind, The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, Hesba Stretton's Jessica's First Prayer, Christina Rossetti's Speaking Likenesses and Sing Song, and E. Nesbit's House of Arden and Harding's Luck this work considers the construction, romanticizing and socializing of the Victorian child within work read by and for children during the Victorian Era and early Edwardian period and how that has impacted children's literature contemporarily.

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