The Old Curiosity Shop

by Charles Dickens

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This Is The Saddest And One Of The Most Successful Novels By The Great Charles Dickens. Download The Old Curiosity Shop, READ online FREE or buy:

Dickens was a big fan of his weekly/monthly serials and considered them to be a great tool for any writer – both from the commercial and the artistic side. This is one of the 2 novels that the legendary writer published along with numerous shorter tales.

The story was insanely popular and the fans in NY pretty much occupied the shipyard when the ship carrying the last chapter approached the shore in 1841. That same year, the novel became available as a complete book. They say Queen Victoria herself took the time to read it and called it a highly entertaining and brilliantly-written novel.

The Old Curiosity Shop Summary

This heart-wrenching book follows the story of Nell, a good-looking and righteous young lady, a teenage girl (she’s about 12/13-years old). She’s an orphan and lives with her grandpa in his shop of “silly stuff”. By the way, the old man’s name is kept a secret to the very end of the novel.

The old chap loves her more than anything else in the world and is ready to sacrifice himself just to see a smile on her face. The lassie is a happy kid, but she’s kinda lonely and knows almost no boys and girls of her age.

Kit, a lad that works at the shop, is the only person she considers to be her friend. Nell teaches him how to write. The girl’s grandfather is obsessed with the idea of leaving his lovely grandchild a proper inheritance. The thing is – her mom and dad died in poverty, and he doesn’t want her to follow their path. So, he gambles to provide for her.

Good Intentions Often Lead To Disasters

Obviously, he keeps his dangerous games a secret from everyone, especially Nell. Still, he borrows money on a constant basis from Mr. Quilp, a hunchbacked fella, a malignant moneylender that always gets his money back – one way or the other.

Eventually, Mr. Trent loses all the savings he has, which allows the evil lender to take away the shop and leave both Nell and her grandpa stranded in the middle of the street. The old man could never think that he would single-handedly ruin his granddaughter’s life and suffers a severe breakdown and falls ill.

The girl decides to take him away from the painful memories. They head towards the Midlands of the country to make a living as beggars. With her grandpa being mentally unstable, she’s practically the only one who can make some money to support them.

Following A Fortune That Doesn’t Exist

At the same time, Fred, her elder bruv, a moron and a slacker, is sure that his granddad left Nell a significant amount of gold, and decides to track her down and demand his cut. He even convinces Dick, a friendly, yet naive lad to help him find the girl.

He wants Dick to tie the knot with her and to share the inheritance with him. Somewhere along the way, they meet Quilp, who agrees to help them. He knows very well that Nell is poverty-stricken, but still wants to give them hope to have a good laugh at the end.

Nell, exhausted and emaciated, finds a way to take Mr. Trent to a village in the middle of nowhere where they’ll be relatively safe. Along the way, she comes across numerous people. Some of them lend her a helping hand, but most of them are evil spirits who want only one thing – to use her for personal gain. At the end of the road, she becomes sick.

One Of The Saddest Stories By Charles Dickens

Eventually, the poor girl dies, unable to fight her illness. Her grandpa refuses to accept it and spends days and nights at her grave. A couple of months later, the old man also dies and follows Nell into the abyss.

Hands down, this is one of the most heart-wrenching novels by Dickens. As a general rule, his heroes always make it out of the slums and find true happiness at the end of the way, but not this time around.

Dickens portrayed Nell as a kind-hearted, almost angelic-like person with a pure soul. Unfortunately, just when she finds a place to stay, the girl loses all her strength and dies. During the mid-XIX century, England was full of gracious young women who had to face the ugly reality of having to beg for money.

The Old Curiosity Shop Themes

Greed and cupidity are the major themes of The Old Curiosity Shop; so are purity of heart, courage and selfless people like Nell and Kit. They were happy to put everything on the line just to make sure their friends, family members, and loved ones were ok.

Nell died a hero and didn’t waste her beautiful soul on the horrifying road to her graveyard. She had to overcome numerous obstacles – both physical and mental – for the sake of the journey but never lost her true self. Some famous writers, including Oscar Wilde, criticized the lead character of the novel.

Still, the majority of the critics and the fans were in love with the story. As mentioned in the beginning, people in America were going crazy over Nell and were shouting to the sailors aboard the boats packed with the final installment things like “Will the girl make it?”

Many years later, in 2007, when the then-new Harry Potter novel arrived, the papers noted that the excitement could be compared to the one around The Old Curiosity Shop’s final chapter.

The Old Curiosity Shop Movie, TV And Stage Adaptations

Like any other novel of great significance from the XIX century, this instant classic was a huge inspiration for the movie industry. The very first film adaptation came out in 1914. It was directed by Mr. Bentley. Seven years ago, the man went back to the original idea and made a brand-new movie.

As for the first sound version, it was released in ’34. The movie cast included Mr. Petrie as the major villain of the masterpiece – Quilp. BBC turned the novel into a series for TV in 1960. In ’75, the British adapted Dickens’s masterpiece into a musical.

The producers were hoping to take advantage of the highly successful Oliver! (another musical movie heavily based on a book by Dickens); however, it turned out to be quite unpopular.

BBC Radio rolled in with the official radio adaptation in 1990. The second one arrived eight years later. The latest TV/film edition hit the small screens in 2007. It was successful enough to be repeated a year later.

Controversy About The Timeline

The majority of the critics claim that the story takes place in 1825. They base it on the notion that a lady talks about the passing of Lord Byron (he passed away in 1824; April 19th, to be exact). Furthermore, Mr. Trent fears that they’ll lock inside a “hospital for the crazy ones” after he became sick. He thinks the doctors will “nail” him to a wall and whip him on a daily basis.

Fact: approximately half-a-decade later, those practices seized to exist. Finally, they accuse Kit of trying to shake the well-being of the King (meaning George IV, of Course). However, in Chapter 13, while describing a big-time lawyer, Dickens calls him an attorney at Her Majesty’s service. The scholars claim that it was just a tiny mistake on the writer’s part.

Summing Up

Charles Dickens has a unique style, and when it comes to creating touching and moving stories, he’s one of the greatest writers that ever lived on planet Earth. Yes, many of his characters look and feel more like caricatures than real human beings, but that’s a part of his novels’ charm.

As a general rule, he creates almost exact opposites in his stories, which means if a character is bad, he/she is probably going to be an epic villain. Same goes for his “characters of light”. Nell, for example, is an angel, a young girl with a big, beautiful heart.

She always puts the needs of others first and tries to be thankful for what she has even when it feels like the whole world is against her. Kit is the same way. He’s forever thankful to Mr. Trent for providing him with a job and does everything in his power to save the man and his granddaughter.

Bad Meets Good

Mr. Quilp, in turn, is a despised and scorned human being. He abuses his wife on a daily basis and uses his false charm to control people around him. He lends Nell’s grandpa the gambling money, knowing that one day he’ll get to own his curiosity shop. This man is only truly happy when he sees others suffer.

By mixing these characters together, Dickens delivers a breath-taking journey for the readers and proves that even though Nell dies at the end of her journey, she lives her life like a true warrior of light, while Quilp is destined to rot six feet under the ground.


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