Revolt of the Minor Characters: A Suggestion for a Dickens Imitation

Revolt of the Minor Characters: A Suggestion for a Dickens Imitation

Burton Weltman

Dickens has frequently been criticized for the blandness and even insipidness of most of his major characters, especially his leading women.  It is his secondary characters who most readers find most interesting and who Dickens probably enjoyed the most.  His main characters were seemingly written to satisfy Victorian expectations.  His minor characters were written to satisfy his own tastes.

So, here is a suggestion for a writer with enough daring and skill to undertake a Dickens imitation: Have your novel revolve around a slew of Dickens’ minor characters.

The corpus of Dickens’ work essentially embodies a single universe.  Any one of his characters could plausibly appear in any of his stories.   On this basis, you could write a story that included, for example, Mr. Micawber, Mr. M’Choakumchild, Sarai Gamp, Uriah Heep, Sam Weller, Mrs. Jellyby, the Artful Dodger, Major Joseph Bagstock, the Reverend Chadband, Monsieur Rigaud, Rogue Riderhood, Bradley Headstone, and the Bagnet, Squeers and Smallwood families, just to name a few of the possible participants.  You could construct a wonderful story with a host of delightful and disgusting secondary Dickens characters all bouncing off of each other without the drag of those bland primary Dickens characters.

I think that most Dickensophiles would love to read such book.