Stories with Strong Fictional Characters
last update: 14 May 2020
Many compelling fictional characters are found in famous novels such as Great Expectations or Pride and Prejudice, but others are modern day characters such a Tintin.
We will start with one of TV Trivia's favourites, Charles Dickens. Here a just a few typical questions:-
In which year was Charles Dickens born, and what was his full name? Answer - 1812, Charles John Huffam Dickens
Which Dickens heroin was born and raised in debtors prison? Answer - Little Dorrit
Which famous children's author was once an unwanted houseguest at Dickens' house? Answer - Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)
Which pen name was occasionally used by Dickens? Answer - Boz
In which novel did Dr. Manette appear? Answer - A Tale of Two Cities
Which of Dickens's books has sold more than 200 million copies? Answer - A Tale of Two Cities
Where was Dickens forces to work when he was 12 and his father was taken to Marshalsea debtors' prison? Answer - Labelling pots of boot-blacking
Which Dickens novel was unfinished? Answer - The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Which novel was Dickens's 'favourite child'? Answer - David Copperfield
Who was 'ever so humble'? Answer - Uriah Heep David Copperfield
Which writer and later friend of Dickens applied unsuccessfully for the job of illustrator in The Pickwick Papers? Answer - William Makepeace Thackeray
Who wrote a poem about Dickens' pet raven? Answer - Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Raven
Who's brother, Charles, married Dickens' daughter Kate? Answer - Wilkie Collins
In Oliver Twist, what do Fagin's boys call the handkerchiefs they pickpocket? Answer - Wipes
In which Dickens novel did the character Mr. Micawber appear? Answer - David Copperfield
Which of his characters did Dickens base on his mother? Answer - Mrs. Nickleby Nicholas Nickleby
Which of his characters did Dickens base on his father? Answer - Wilkins Micawber David Copperfield
Which Dickens novels revolves around a long-running legal dispute over a will? Answer - Bleak House
Which Dickens novel is regarded as the most autobiographical? Answer - David Copperfield
In which year did the novel 'A Christmas Carol' appear? Answer - 1843
Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was one of the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. Born in Portsmouth, Dickens left school to work in a factory when his farther, John Dickens (1785-1851), living beyond his means, was incarcerated in a debtors' prison (his mother was Elizabeth Dickens, née Barrow, 1789-1863). The factory work was ten-hour day pasting labels on pots of boot blacking. His father escaped debtors' prison when he was bequeathed £450 by his mother, Elizabeth Dickens. Dickens worked for 18 months as a junior clerk in a law office, before becoming a freelance reporter on legal proceedings. He submitted his first story in 1833, and also worked as a political journalist. Between 1836 and 1839 he was first editor of the new a literary magazine Bentley's Miscellany. In 1836 he had finished the last instalments of his first novel The Pickwick Papers, and he started on his second novel Oliver Twist, which was published in 1838.
Also 1836 Dickens married Catherine Thomson Hogarth (1816–1879), the daughter of George Hogarth, editor of the Evening Chronicle. The first of their ten children was born a few months later in the family home in Bloomsbury. His success as a novelist continued with Nicholas Nickleby (1838–39), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840–41) and then his first historical novel, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty, all published in monthly instalments before being made into books.
In 1842, Dickens and his wife arrived in Boston, Massachusetts for their first trip to the United States and Canada (he made two trips to the US). He described his impressions in a travelogue, American Notes for General Circulation. Soon after his return to England, Dickens began work on the first of his Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol, written in 1843, which was followed by The Chimes in 1844 and The Cricket on the Hearth in 1845. Of these, A Christmas Carol, was the most popular. After living briefly in Italy (1844), Dickens travelled to Switzerland (1846), where he began work on Dombey and Son (1846–48). This and David Copperfield (1849–50) mark a significant artistic break in Dickens's career as his novels became more serious in theme and more carefully planned than his early works. In late November 1851, Dickens moved into Tavistock House where he wrote Bleak House (1852–53), Hard Times (1854), and Little Dorrit (1856). During this period he worked closely with the novelist and playwright Wilkie Collins. In 1856, his income from writing allowed him to buy Gad's Hill Place in Higham, Kent.
In 1857, Dickens hired professional actresses for the play The Frozen Deep, written by him and his protégé, Wilkie Collins. Dickens fell in love with one of the actresses, Ellen Ternan, and this passion was to last the rest of his life. Dickens was 45 and Ternan 18 when he made the decision, which went strongly against Victorian convention, to separate from his wife, Catherine, in 1858 (divorce was still unthinkable for someone as famous as he was). When Catherine left, never to see her husband again, she took with her one child, leaving the other children to be raised by her sister Georgina Hogarth who chose to stay at Gad's Hill.
Other works soon followed, including A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1861), which were resounding successes. Set in London and Paris, A Tale of Two Cities is his best-known work of historical fiction, and includes the famous opening sentence which begins with "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..". It is regularly cited as one of the best-selling novels of all time. Themes in Great Expectations include wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.
On 8 June 1870, Dickens suffered a second stroke at his home after a full day's work on Edwin Drood (which was finished and published after his death). He never regained consciousness, and the next day, he died at Gad's Hill Place. Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral "in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner", he was laid to rest in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. His last words were: "On the ground", in response to his sister-in-law Georgina's request that he lie down. In his will, drafted more than a year before his death, Dickens left the care of his £80,000 estate to his longtime colleague and friend John Forster and his "best and truest friend" Georgina Hogarth who, along with Dickens's two sons, also received a tax-free sum of £8,000 (about £800,000 in present terms). Although Dickens and his wife had been separated for several years at the time of his death, he provided her with an annual income of £600 and made her similar allowances in his will. He also bequeathed £19 19s to each servant in his employment at the time of his death. Dickens also settled an annuity on Ternan which made her a financially independent woman.
Dickens's novels were initially serialised in weekly and monthly magazines, then reprinted in standard book formats.
- The Pickwick Papers (April 1836 to November 1837), set in London
- Oliver Twist (February 1837 to April 1839)
- Nicholas Nickleby (April 1838 to October 1839)
- The Old Curiosity Shop (April 1840 to November 1841)
- Barnaby Rudge (February to November 1841)
- A Christmas Carol (1843) - a novella, a tale of redemption
- Martin Chuzzlewit (January 1843 to July 1844) - satirises greed and selfishness
- The Chimes (1844)
- The Cricket on the Hearth (1845)
- Dombey and Son (October 1846 to April 1848)
- The Haunted Man (1848)
- David Copperfield (May 1849 to November 1850)
- Bleak House (1852 to September 1853)
- Hard Times (1 April 1854, to 12 August 1854)
- Little Dorrit (December 1855 to June 1857)
- A Tale of Two Cities (30 April 1859, to 26 November 1859)
- Great Expectations (1 December 1860 to 3 August 1861)
- Our Mutual Friend (May 1864 to November 1865)
- The Signal-Man (1866)
- Edwin Drood left unfinished due to Dickens's death.
It is said that there are more than 650 different characters in Dickens's novels (see Wikipedia list), but some of the most memorable are:-
Samuel Pickwick The Pickwick Papers warn-hearted, retired businessman with plenty of money to support his club, which ventures out into the English countryside
Sam Weller The Pickwick Papers Mr. Pickwick's wise-cracking man-servant full of Cockney wisdom
Oliver Twist Oliver Twist the first child protagonist in an English novel, a orphan born in a workhouse, makes the famous request "Please Sir, I want some more" for food, is recruited as pickpocket
Artful Dodger Oliver Twist 'Jack' is smart and kind, leading figure in Fagin's gang of young pickpockets, brings Oliver into the gang
Fagin Oliver Twist a miserly, ugly and corrupt old Jew who runs the thieve's school near Field Lane in Saffron Hill
Bill Sykes Oliver Twist evil, unredeemable character who does breaking-and-entering, has Bullseye his long-suffering dog
Nancy Oliver Twist harlot with a heart of gold, brave independent spirit, she is brutally killed by her lover Bill Sykes
Nicholas Nickleby Nicholas Nickleby the hero of the novel, honest but impetuous, his farther dies and family is left penniless so they must depend upon uncle Ralph, who does not want to help and she hates Nicholas
Ralph Nickleby Nicholas Nickleby the villain, greedy, sarcastic, selfish uncle who works to ruin the lives of his family, but gets what's coming to him
Mrs. Nickleby Nicholas Nickleby stubborn, a silly chatterbox who is wrong about everything
Vincent Crummles Nicholas Nickleby a bombastic, flawed hero, manager of a touring stage company who befriends Nicholas and Smike
Smike Nicholas Nickleby companion and friend of Nicholas, disabled physically and mentally, but unfortunately the totally innocent often suffer the most
Little Nell (Nell Trent) The Old Curiosity Shop the novels main character, sacrifices her own interests to accompany her grandfather around the country to avoid Quilp
Daniel Quilp The Old Curiosity Shop evil ugly dwarf who lends money to Nells' grandfather, who then gambles it away and flees London with Nell
Tiny Tim A Christmas Carol Bod Cratchit's son is ill and initially the family can not afford to properly treat him, but in the end he does not die and Scrooge becomes his second father
Ebenezer Scrooge A Christmas Carol miserly, "Bah, Humbug!", is visited by the ghost of former partner Jacob Marley in the form of the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, and is redeemed
Mr. Fezziwig A Christmas Carol former employer of Scrooge, who really knew how to enjoy Christmas, in total opposition to Scrooge
Young Martin Chuzzlewit Martin Chuzzlewit protagonist of the story, selfish, he is separated by events in the book from his lover interest Mary (the companion of old Martin Chuzzlewit), but they are eventually reunited, and Young Martin repents his previous selfish actions
Seth Pechsniff Martin Chuzzlewit sanctimonious surveyor and self-styled architect who never designed and built anything, big hypocrite, his rise and fall are the novel's plot
Mark Tapley Martin Chuzzlewit a good heroic character who sees Young Martin through suicidal depression
Sairey (Sarah) Gamp Martin Chuzzlewit nurse and midwife, habitually in liquor, creates imaginary Mrs. Harris who then praises Mrs Gamp
Paul Dombey Dombey and Son main character, cold and distant, widower with a son, and a daughter he ignores, then son dies and Paul loses his wealth, but finally reconnects with his daughter, the only person who truly cared for him
Mrs. Edith Granger Dombey Dombey and Son shallow, proud woman who marries Dombey for his money and hates herself for it, finally runs off
Jack Bunsby Dombey and Son seafaring friend of Captain Cuttle who gives advice that only Paul can understand
David Copperfield David Copperfield protagonist, has goals but has much to learn
Clara Peggotty David Copperfield loyal servant of David Copperfield's doomed mother, and David's nurse and friend when he falls under the malign control of step-father Mr. Murdstone.
Wilkins Micawber David Copperfield clever, resourceful, loveable but continually in debt, a stoutish, middle-aged man always saying "Something will turn up"
Uriah Heep David Copperfield hideous villain and hypocritical clerk of Mr. Wickfield, who's plot to ruin Wickfield is undone by Mr. Micawber
Betsy Trotwood David Copperfield David's guardian great aunt, hard-featured, austere, unbending, but having steadfast strength and moral uprightness, finally has a heart of gold
Esther Summerson Bleak House the heroine, Dickens's only female narrator, has a rule upbringing by Miss Barbary, finally revealed as illegitimate daughter of Lady Dedlock
Harold Skimpole Bleak House naïve man with childlike innocence, time and money mean nothing to him, but he can cause problems for others around him
Inspector Bucket Bleak House on the first detectives in English literature, doggedly pursues Tulkinghorn's murderer
Sidney Carton Tale of Two Cities sacrifices his life to save the life of the husband of the woman he loves (Lucie Manette)
Madame Defarge Tale of Two Cities female villain, wife of a wine shop keeper, Ernest Defarge, and leading revolutionary during the French Revolution, where she calmly knits while the terror of the revolution unfolds around her, and heads of the hated aristocrats are lopped off
Pip (Philip Pirrip) Great Expectations protagonist, a deeply flawed character set upon the wrong road of life by the demented pair of Miss Havisham and Estella, but his redemptions painfully earned
Miss Havisham Great Expectations a malignant woman damaged by a monstrous betrayal at the altar, who has turned her adopted daughter into an ice-princess
Estella Great Expectations a callous, cruel and heartless woman with great beauty and poise, twisted by her vengeful mother
Joe Gargery Great Expectations brother-in-law, blacksmith, and unconditional friend of Pip
John Harmon Our Mutual Friend presumed dead he lives under a different name and tries to get to know Bella, upward mobile by his own efforts
Bella Wilfer Our Mutual Friend beautiful girl born into poverty, initially preoccupied with money, she defies social pressures to achieve happiness unrelated to wealth
Jenny Wren Our Mutual Friend crippled doll's dressmaker, cares for drunken father, gives sage council to Lizzie Hexam
John Podsnap Our Mutual Friend pompous friend, dismissing anything foreign or having pretensions to culture, very satisfied with himself
And just a few oddball characters:-
Serjeant Buzfuz The Pickwick Papers counsel for the plaintiff
Wackford Squeers Nicholas Nickleby a nasty school master, fond of whacking pupils
Simon Tappertit Barnaby Rudge rebellious apprentice becomes a shoe-black
Charity Pecksniff Martin Chuzzlewit sensible elder daughter of Mr. Pecksniff
Mr. M'Choakumchild Bleak House a school master
Lord Decimus Tite Barnacle Little Dorrit controls the Circumlocution Office, where everything goes round in circles
Tudor Stiltstalking Little Dorrit part of a family aligned with the Barnacles
Uncle Pumblechook Great Expectations conceited and utterly materialistic corn-chandler
Pleasant Riderhood Our Mutual Friend unlicensed pornbroker
Hiram Grewgious Edwin Drood "an angular man with no conversational power".
Great Expectations is the thirteenth novel by Charles Dickens and his penultimate completed novel, which depicts the education of an orphan nicknamed Pip (the book is a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story). It is Dickens's second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person.[N 1] The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the novel in three volumes.
The novel is set in Kent and London in the early to mid-19th century and contains some of Dickens's most celebrated scenes, starting in a graveyard, where the young Pip is accosted by the escaped convict Abel Magwitch. Great Expectations is full of extreme imagery – poverty, prison ships and chains, and fights to the death – and has a colourful cast of characters who have entered popular culture. These include the eccentric Miss Havisham, the beautiful but cold Estella, and Joe, the unsophisticated and kind blacksmith. Dickens's themes include wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil. Great Expectations, which is popular both with readers and literary critics, has been translated into many languages and adapted numerous times into various media.
On Christmas Eve, around 1812, Pip, an orphan about seven years old, unexpectedly meets an escaped prisoner in the village churchyard, while visiting the graves of his parents and siblings. The convict scares Pip into stealing food and tools from Pip's hot-tempered elder sister and her amiable husband, Joe Gargery, a blacksmith, who have taken the orphan in. On early Christmas morning, Pip returns with a file, a pie, and brandy, though he fears being punished. During Christmas Dinner that evening, at the moment Pip's theft is about to be discovered, soldiers arrive and ask Joe to mend some shackles. Joe and Pip accompany them as they recapture the convict, who is fighting with another escaped convict. The first convict confesses to stealing food from the smithy, clearing Pip of suspicion.
Pip is ashamed of Joe at Satis House, by F. A. Fraser
A few years pass. Miss Havisham, a wealthy, reclusive spinster who was jilted at the altar and still wears her old wedding dress lives in the dilapidated Satis House. She asks Mr Pumblechook, a relation of the Gargerys, to find a boy to visit her. Pip visits Miss Havisham and falls in love with Estella, her adopted daughter. Estella remains aloof and hostile to Pip, which Miss Havisham encourages. Pip visits Miss Havisham regularly, until he is old enough to learn a trade.
Joe accompanies Pip for the last visit when she gives the money for Pip to be bound as an apprentice blacksmith. Joe's surly assistant, Dolge Orlick, is envious of Pip and dislikes Mrs Joe. When Pip and Joe are away from the house, Mrs Joe is brutally attacked, leaving her unable to speak or do her work. Orlick is suspected of the attack. Mrs Joe becomes kind-hearted, but brain-damaged, after the attack. Pip's former schoolmate Biddy joins the household to help with her care.
Miss Havisham with Estella and Pip. Art by H. M. Brock
Four years into Pip's apprenticeship, Mr Jaggers, a lawyer, informs him that he has been provided with money from an anonymous patron, allowing him to become a gentleman. Pip is to leave for London, but presuming that Miss Havisham is his benefactress, he first visits her.
Pip sets up house in London at Barnard's Inn with Herbert Pocket, the son of his tutor, Matthew Pocket, who is a cousin of Miss Havisham. Herbert and Pip have previously met at Satis Hall, where Herbert was rejected as a playmate for Estella. He tells Pip how Miss Havisham was defrauded and deserted by her fiancé. Pip meets fellow pupils, Bentley Drummle, a brute of a man from a wealthy noble family, and Startop, who is agreeable. Jaggers disburses the money Pip needs.
When Joe visits Pip at Barnard's Inn, Pip is ashamed of him. Joe relays a message from Miss Havisham that Estella will be at Satis House for a visit. Pip returns there to meet Estella and is encouraged by Miss Havisham, but he avoids visiting Joe. He is disquieted to see Orlick now in service to Miss Havisham. He mentions his misgivings to Jaggers, who promises Orlick's dismissal. Back in London, Pip and Herbert exchange their romantic secrets: Pip adores Estella and Herbert is engaged to Clara. Pip meets Estella when she is sent to Richmond to be introduced into society.
Pip and Herbert build up debts. Mrs Joe dies and Pip returns to his village for the funeral. Pip's income is fixed at £500 per annum when he comes of age at twenty-one. With the help of Jaggers' clerk, Wemmick, Pip plans to help advance Herbert's future prospects by anonymously securing him a position with the shipbroker, Clarriker's. Pip takes Estella to Satis House. She and Miss Havisham quarrel over Estella's coldness. In London, Bentley Drummle outrages Pip, by proposing a toast to Estella. Later, at an Assembly Ball in Richmond, Pip witnesses Estella meeting Bentley Drummle and warns her about him; she replies that she has no qualms about entrapping him.
A week after he turns 23 years old, Pip learns that his benefactor is the convict he encountered in the churchyard, Abel Magwitch, who had been transported to New South Wales after being captured. He has become wealthy after gaining his freedom there but cannot return to England on pain of death. However, he returns to see Pip, who was the motivation for all his success. Pip is shocked, and stops taking money from him. Subsequently, Pip and Herbert Pocket devise a plan for Magwitch to escape from England.
Magwitch shares his past history with Pip, and reveals that the escaped convict whom he fought in the churchyard was Compeyson, the fraudster who had deserted Miss Havisham.
Pip returns to Satis Hall to visit Estella and meets Bentley Drummle, who has also come to see her and now has Orlick as his servant. Pip accuses Miss Havisham of misleading him about his benefactor. She admits to doing so, but says that her plan was to annoy her relatives. Pip declares his love to Estella, who, coldly, tells him that she plans on marrying Drummle. Heartbroken, Pip walks back to London, where Wemmick warns him that Compeyson is seeking him. Pip and Herbert continue preparations for Magwitch's escape.
At Jaggers's house for dinner, Wemmick tells Pip how Jaggers acquired his maidservant, Molly, rescuing her from the gallows when she was accused of murder.
Then, full of remorse, Miss Havisham tells Pip how the infant Estella was brought to her by Jaggers and raised by her to be unfeeling and heartless. She knows nothing about Estella's parentage. She also tells Pip that Estella is now married. She gives Pip money to pay for Herbert Pocket's position at Clarriker's, and asks for his forgiveness. As Pip is about to leave, Miss Havisham's dress catches fire. Pip saves her, injuring himself in the process. She eventually dies from her injuries, lamenting her manipulation of Estella and Pip. Pip now realises that Estella is the daughter of Molly and Magwitch. When confronted about this, Jaggers discourages Pip from acting on his suspicions.
Magwitch makes himself known to Pip
A few days before Magwitch's planned escape, Pip is tricked by an anonymous letter into going to a sluice house near his old home, where he is seized by Orlick, who intends to murder him. Orlick freely admits to injuring Pip's sister. As Pip is about to be struck by a hammer, Herbert Pocket and Startop arrive and save Pip's life. The three of them pick up Magwitch to row him to the steamboat for Hamburg, but they are met by a police boat carrying Compeyson, who has offered to identify Magwitch. Magwitch seizes Compeyson, and they fight in the river. Seriously injured, Magwitch is taken by the police. Compeyson's body is found later.
Pip is aware that Magwitch's fortune will go to the crown after his trial. But Herbert, who is preparing to move to Cairo, Egypt, to manage Clarriker's office there, offers Pip a position there. Pip always visits Magwitch in the prison hospital as he awaits trial, and on Magwitch's deathbed tells him that his daughter Estella is alive. After Herbert's departure for Cairo, Pip falls ill in his rooms, and faces arrest for debt. However, Joe nurses Pip back to health and pays off his debt. When Pip begins to recover, Joe slips away. Pip then returns to propose to Biddy, only to find that she has married Joe. Pip asks Joe's forgiveness, promises to repay him and leaves for Cairo. There he shares lodgings with Herbert and Clara, and eventually advances to become third in the company. Only then does Herbert learn that Pip paid for his position in the firm.
After working eleven years in Egypt, Pip returns to England and visits Joe, Biddy and their son, Pip Jr. Then in the ruins of Satis House he meets the widowed Estella, who asks Pip to forgive her, assuring him that misfortune has opened her heart. As Pip takes Estella's hand and they leave the moonlit ruins, he sees "no shadow of another parting from her."