Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

MA English




Literature, Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens, Women, Victorian England, Marriage, Wealth, Working class, Middle class, Repression of women


In early Victorian England, married women were denied the legal right to own property, and social convention remanded them to ostracism if they chose to remain single. Likewise, jobs that were available to women failed to pay a living wage, so women were placed under tremendous economic and social pressure to marry. In Charles Dickens' novel, Nicholas Nickleby, he depicts how marriage becomes manipulated within the working and middle classes as a means to acquire wealth. Dickens also compares the repression of women to the abuse suffered by school children in the Yorkshire schools, which had a reputation for neglecting students and misappropriating tuition. Dickens also attempts to show that the denial of property rights to women also affects the broader society. He presents male characters as feminized and infantilized to show that brutal capitalism stands to emasculate men who are unwilling to stoop to corruption in order to be successful.