Some Thoughts on Dickens

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Length of Recording: 0:46:30. Recorded by Henry Rosen, director of the Audiovisual Department, Bridgewater State Teachers College

While a professor, Clement C. Maxwell specialized in English literature and was a noted Dickens scholar. Maxwell’s lecture on Dickens covers what he identifies as the major theme throughout the writer’s work: “to strike a blow for the poor” by drawing attention to the dire conditions of the underprivileged during the Victorian age. Maxwell describes Dickens childhood and how that shaped his mission to improve the living conditions of London’s underclasses. The lecture draws upon examples from several of Dicken’s novels to illustrate the horrors of debtors’ prisons, the unfairness in the court system, and the sub-standard quality of education in England in his day. Despite the bleak depictions of life in London, Dickens’ sense of humor and optimism is emphasized. Maxwell also notes Dickens’ inclusion of children as frequent and often major characters in his novels. Maxwell credits the inclusion of children as characters to the development of increased sympathy for children and children’s rights.


Dr. Clement C. Maxwell (1898-1969), the former chairman of the English Department and Dean of the graduate school was appointed temporary president of Bridgewater State Teacher’s College upon the death of the president John J. Kelly in 1951. Maxwell was formally appointed president the following year and inaugurated on November 21, 1952. During his years as president, Maxwell oversaw campus expansion: the student body doubled in size, the number of faculty members tripled, two new dormitories and a gymnasium were constructed. More importantly, Maxwell was pivotal in the planning and development for the Bachelor of Arts degree program.

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Some Thoughts on Dickens