Nicholas Nickleby is a story of a young man and his family dealing with the hardships in their life. When Nicholas father died the family was left with little money. It was because of this that they turned to Ralph Nickleby (Nicholas's uncle), who got Nicholas and his sister Kate jobs. Ralph only did this because he did not want them to rely on his money, he reminded me of Scrooge from the Christmas Carol, he is a business man with no heart at the beginning. Ralph Nickleby is a complex character that unfolds completely by the end of the novel. Ralph's assistant, Newman Noggs, parallels Bob Cratchit in many ways. He works for Ralph and puts up with many harsh words and actions. Noggs becomes Nicholas best friend. Dickens paints a picture of every character. By the end of the novel you have visual imagine in your head of every detail. You never just meet a person; you get to know their character. As much as I loved this description of everything, it does tend to be a bit much. At certain points throughout the story you remember that Dickens got paid by the word and that attributed to his (sometimes) excessive detail.
The very beginning was a bit slow and it took a bit of effort to get through. Around the fourth or fifth chapter the book became very interesting. In the next few chapters the plot of the novel started to evolve. I enjoyed the balance of humor and seriousness that was in the book. Wackford Squeers was perhaps one of the crudest characters however he was one of the funnies as well. The Squeers owned Dotheboys Hall, for a small fortune you may send you child there to be educated, however the as a reader you soon learned about the horrible treatment of the boys. For example, the boys are occasionally given a "medicine", this made the boys so ill that they didn't want to eat and therefore the Squeers save money on food. You are introduced to a very important character by the name of Smike; he is a boy who was left in the care of the Squeers years ago. After his first six years there this parents stopped paying and he became a servant and he is treated horribly. At one point in the book Nicholas can no longer witness this treatment and saved poor Smike from a beating. After this the book takes a dramatic turn. Nicholas sets out on his own and soon finds that Smike has followed him.
Eventually the interest starts to die down and the plot seems boring and over played. I must admit that as much as I loved the book the middle was not very enjoyable to read. In the middle you are introduced to many new characters and you learn the detail surrounding the life that Kate and Nicholas now lead. Kate is employed in a dress shop, which soon becomes bankrupt because of bad investments. Nicholas joins Mr. Crummles entertainment "business", in which he puts on plays. Just when you start to lose hope in the book, an exciting series of twist and turns unravels. You start to learn that Ralph has a few secrets that may lead to his destruction. Newmen Noggs starts to play a very important role in the story. He learns that Ralph has a friend (Mr. Gride) who plans to marry Madeline (the woman Nicholas is in love with) and give the deed her father promised him to Ralph. Madeline's father is in prison for not repaying is debt; the deed is worth 12,000 pounds and will replace what he borrowed from Ralph. The end of the book is the greatest part of all; you learn very important things about Ralph and his life before money. The theme of how money can ruin a person is really displayed in the last few chapters.
Overall this book had its highs and lows. I am very glad that I read it because it is so mind blowing, you really get involved in this world that Dickens creates for his characters. There are so many different aspect of this book that almost anyone can find something that they enjoy about it. The best part is that you can see what everything is leading up to but there is still an element of surprise until the end.