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Cover image of The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

The fourth novel published by Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop was initially published in weekly installments between 1840 and 1841 and follows the poignant journey of the virtuous young girl Nell and her loving grandfather as they are forced to bear the hardships of life. Dickens cleverly employs contrasting eloquent characters as a utility to bring out the dissimilarity and injustice present in society.The novel introduces orphan Nell Trent and her grandfather, who live in a run-down store that is distinctive for its worthless bits and pieces. Even though Nell does not complain about their impoverished state, her grandfather is troubled by his resolve to ensure the financial wellbeing of his granddaughter and rescue her from poverty after his death. However, this obsession only leads him downhill, as he turns to frequent gambling escapades, which are funded by the vile Daniel Quilp. Consequently, the grandfather is unable to pay back the loans, and the scheming Quilp is quite happy to sell all the merchandise within the store, while also forcing the two residents to vacate. Subsequently, Nell and her grandfather begin their journey out in the open, searching for paradise while living the life of beggars and experiencing the hardships of destitution. Despite their already dire circumstance, the pair is further burdened by the pursuit of Quilp, who is hot on their trail with the belief that they have some hidden fortune. Sadly, Nell and her grandfather seem to be entangled in a web of misfortune as they become shadowed by the malevolent Daniel Quilp, her selfish brother Fred and his friend Swiveller, as their chances of a new life grow slimmer with every passing moment. Dickens’s use of suggestive language, evocative imagery, distinct characters and vivid vignettes, effectively set the foundation for one of his most celebrated pieces. Furthermore, Dickens also proficiently employs hyperboles, sarcasm, humor, and a combination of themes to generate the essence of the human condition. Due to the sentimental portrayal of Nell and her grandfather, their grueling journey in search of peace and their endless supply of hope, the novel remains a classic with the ability to capture the imagination of the audience. Additionally, it stays close to the heart of its reader as it evokes heartfelt sympathy and demonstrates the everlasting battle between good and evil.

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