Questions tagged [dickens]

For questions relating to the 19th-century English writer Charles Dickens and his books.

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Meaning of “rubber” in “You might put ME into a Jail, with genteel society and a rubber, and I should never care to come out.”

In David Copperfield, Mrs Markleham: “You might put ME into a Jail, with genteel society and a rubber, and I should never care to come out.” What is the meaning of rubber here?
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What does "setting down father's dinner" mean? What does to "get on as it might on the outer side thereof" mean?

When he grew tall enough to peep through the keyhole of the great lock of the main door, he had divers times set down his father’s dinner, or supper, to get on as it might on the outer side thereof, ...
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3 votes
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What does "light children nursing heavy ones" mean in this paragraph?

Down in to the Yard, by way of the steps, came Daniel Doyce, Mr Meagles, and Clennam. Passing along the Yard, and between the open doors on either hand, all abundantly garnished with light children ...
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What does "heraldic cognisance" mean in this paragraph?

Neither party would listen to the antiquaries who delivered learned lectures in the neighbourhood, showing the Bleeding Heart to have been the heraldic cognisance of the old family to whom the ...
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2 votes
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What does "the Godfather Break of Day was peeping at its namesake" mean?

When he started up, the Godfather Break of Day was peeping at its namesake. He rose, took his shoes in his hand, turned the key in the door with great caution, and crept downstairs. (Little Dorrit by ...
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What does "national" mean in this paragraph?

John Baptist, staring at him with eyes opened to their utmost width, made a number of those national, backhanded shakes of the right forefinger in the air, as if he were resolved on negativing ...
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What is Dickens’ “fly-catcher”?

This is a passage from Dickens’ Little Dorrit, chapter 11. Emphasised words relate to the question below. ‘Ah Heaven, then,’ said she. ‘When the boat came up from Lyons, and brought the news that the ...
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What does “in our children we lived again” mean?

From David Copperfield by Charles Dickens He was full of eloquence. He gave us to understand that in our children we lived again, and that, under the pressure of pecuniary difficulties, any accession ...
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What's the meaning of "that vagabond was made for the next two days"?

I am currently reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. There is one sentence which has puzzled me. But the Doctor himself was the idol of the whole school: and it must have been a badly ...
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3 votes
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What does "be won of" mean in "Great Expectations"?

On page 59-60 She threw the cards down on the table when she had won them all, as if she despised them for having been won of me. My guess for the phrase is "as if she despised them for having ...
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I cannot understand the meaning of the following sentence fron Dickens' Notes of America [closed]

The last sentence from the following paragraph from Dickens is ambiguious for me; "He was only twenty-five years old, he said, and had grown recently, for it had been found necessary to make an ...
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4 answers
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What does Dickens mean by "servant" in A Christmas Carol? [closed]

In the following quote from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, why does Dickens describe himself as a servant to the reader? What does he mean here? their faithful friend and servant, C.D.
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Is it obligatory to write the word "as" twice in comparison of equality?

This really baffles me since I've always regarded the "as...as" form as standard but I've heard a lot of people say phrases like "cool as heck" and even "solitary as an oyster&...
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4 votes
2 answers
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"Right tol loor rul!" Meaning - Dickens, Dombey and Son

In Dickens's book Dombey and Son, at the start of Chapter 2, Mr. Chick says the following to his wife Louisa Chick right after she made an observation of the death of her sister-in-law: Don’t you ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of the sentence "I'll serve you out" from Dickens' Great Expectations?

In Chapter 18, Mr Wopsle is at the Three Jolly Bargemen, giving his audience a theatrical rendition of a murder case as reported in the newspaper: The victim faintly moaned, "I'm done for," and the ...
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What do "Sech" and "Vich" mean in this sentence?

I am reading a book on life lessons, and the author quotes one of Charles Dickens's characters, Sarah Gamp, from his novel, Martin Chuzzlewit: Sech is life. Vich likeways is the hend of all things....
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In a Tale of Two Cities, Dickens says "in short, the period was so far like the present period" in the first paragraph of the first chapter [closed]

What does he mean? Does he mean that the periods were very different, or very similar?
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What does it mean to "have an air of importance"?

What does the phrase in bold mean? This is given in the book "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens. The sentence: He was quite bald. His clothes were shabby but he had an air of great importance. ...
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2 votes
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Some words in The Boy at Mugby

I'm trying to read my way through The Boy at Mugby by Charles Dickens. The story is written in an 'accented' language, and there are a few words I'm having trouble making out: (The text excerpts are ...
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41 votes
2 answers
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Why were slum kids called “urchins”?

To the eyes of Mr. Jeremiah Cruncher, sitting on his stool in Fleet Street with his grisly urchin beside him, a vast number and variety of objects in movement were every day presented. A Tale ...
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What do the parentheses inside quotation marks mean in this Dickens quote?

Miss Havisham had seen him as soon as I, and was (like everybody else) afraid of him. She made a strong attempt to compose herself, and stammered that he was as punctual as ever. "As punctual as ...
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3 votes
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What are dress-boxes in a theatre?

Here is a sentence from Dickens: On somebody’s motion, we resolved to go downstairs to the dress-boxes, where the ladies were. This is a scene in a theatre, when drunk Copperfield with friends ...
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The meaning of "Not but what it might have been for something else; but it warn't."?

What exactly does this line by Dickens mean? "'Yes, master, and I've never been in it much.' (I had come out of Kingston Jail last on a vagrancy committal. Not but what it might have been for ...
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1 vote
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In "Great Expectations", what does this mean? [closed]

In Chapter 20 of Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, what does the phrase I have bolded mean? Nevertheless, a hackney-coachman, who seemed to have as many capes to his greasy great-coat as he ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Capitalization of "time"

Another question from the world of Charles Dickens.... In Great Expectations, the police sergeant says the following to Mr. Pumblechook: "Would you give me the Time!" I was surprised at this ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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'To' or 'For'? Usage of prepositions

This is a sentence from Dickens's 'A Tale of Two Cities'. It's from Chapter 11 of Book II. Mr. Stryver accused Sydney of not being agreeable in a women's society and he told Sydney that he felt ...
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Why is there a "there" when Dickens say "After that there gallop from Temple Bar"?

In Book 1, Chapter 2 of A tale of two cities, Dickens wrote the following: “After that there gallop from Temple Bar, old lady, I won’t trust your fore-legs till I get you on the level,” said this ...
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7 votes
4 answers
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Is there an opposite of want? [closed]

In Charles Dickens' book "A Christmas Carol", the children of Want and Ignorance crawl out of the Ghost of Christmas Present's robes. My understanding of this kind of "want" is the want of objects for ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What does "prophetic pins" mean in Dickens's David Copperfield?

This is from the first chapter: My mother was sitting by the fire, but poorly in health, and very low in spirits, looking at it through her tears, and desponding heavily about herself and the ...
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3 votes
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Meaning of "as much to be pitied as ever I see" ("Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens)

I have some questions about a sentence from Chapter 42 of the novel Great Expectations. Here is an excerpt: “So fur as I could find, there warn’t a soul that see young Abel Magwitch, with us little ...
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Bleak House language

I've been reading Bleak House, and I came across this sentence: Still the woman follows, crying, "Stop him, sir, pray stop him!" Allan, not knowing but that he has just robbed her of her money, ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What's the meaning of 'Min' in The Old Curiosity Shop?

In Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, the word 'min' is used. For example: "is the old min friendly?" As it is only used by one character, Mr Swiveller, one can assume it to be slang and expect it to ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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“on condition of his getting out of this then, come, and cutting it”

What is the meaning of the highlighted part in this excerpt from Bleak House? “Policeman at last finds it necessary to support the law and seize a vocalist, who is released upon the flight of the ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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Oliver Twist: “who had known better times”

In the first chapter, Oliver asks for more, Oliver is moved to new poorhouse and there is a line which talks about a tall guy. One tall boy, who had known better times, was heard to say that, ...
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What does it mean by "to begin my life with the beginning of my life" as in David Copperfield?

Quote from the opening of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. ...
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1 answer
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A sentence from Oliver Twist and its meaning

Saw this in his book a few days, would someone help me find clarity in its meaning? "brass can do better than the gold what has stood the fire" Here is the full context: The man ran ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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Meaning of the phrase "treats of" in the title of chapter 1 of Oliver Twist [closed]

The title of chapter 1 of Oliver Twist is as follow: "Treats of the place where Oliver Twist was born...". What is the exact meaning of the plural word "treats"? I assume it means something like "...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Why is Dolge not a Christian name?

(Note: This might be better suited for a different stack site, but since literature closed, I thought this was the closest related site). I've recently been re-reading Great Expectations, and, in ...
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What does this "Change" mean in Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’?

The word Change doesn't seem to make much sense in this quote from A Christmas Carol. To emphasis the sentence, I kept it in bold-type. MARLEY was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What does this passage from "Great Expectations" mean?

I was reading Great Expectations the other day, and came across this passage that I couldn't make any sense of whatsoever: Why should I loiter on my road to compare the state of mind in which I had ...
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10 votes
4 answers
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What does " 'Nation " stand for in this context?

I was reading the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. In Chapter 2, there are sentences like: “I hope there ain’t, but can’t make so ’Nation sure of that,” said the guard, in gruff ...
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Usage of the word "Doggedly"

At the end of chapter 16 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the author states: After that day, a day rarely passed without her drawing the hammer on her slate, and without Orlick's slouching ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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'furniture of their pockets"

There are many pleasant fictions of the law in constant operation, but there is not one so pleasant or practically humorous as that which supposes every man to be of equal value in its impartial eye, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of “bile” from Great Expectations

In the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the character Joe tells Pip, “Somebody must keep the pot a biling, Pip, or the pot won’t bile, don't you know?” What does the word bile mean in ...
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3 answers
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Dickens (a tale of two city, chapter 1): what do "they were awake" and "was to be atheistical and traitorous" refer to?

But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that ...
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Dickens: meaning of “preserves” in “preserves of loaves and fishes”

What is the meaning of preserves in the opening passage of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities? There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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German way of saying numbers found in Dickens [duplicate]

Reading "Great Expectations", I noticed that numbers (I don't remember if this refers to all numbers, but I'm sure it was used when age was concerned) were given in the German way, namely, for ...
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3 votes
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What does this text from The Haunted House by Charles Dickens mean?

"Who is--or who was--the hooded woman with the owl? Do you know?" "Well!" said Ikey, holding up his cap with one hand while he scratched his head with the other, "they say, in ...
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3 answers
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What does 'had been took with fits and held down in 'em' mean?

The following appears in The Haunted House by Charles Dickens. What is the meaning of the bolded phrase? This very concise summary of the facts was all I could learn, except that a young man, as ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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What does 'sanding a doorstep' mean?

What does "sanding a doorstep" mean? Does it mean polishing the doorstep? Or filling it in with sand? I read this expression in Charles Dickens' book, The Haunted House where it says, I found ...
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