Today marks the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, the greatest novelist of the Victorian era — and possibly some other eras as well. Though Dickens was skilled at creating plot and much loved for his winking sense of humor, perhaps his greatest talent was creating characters, many of whom are still household names a century and a half after their creation. His biographer, John Forster, wrote that Dickens made his “characters real existences, not by describing them but by letting them describe themselves.” Indeed, his characters are extremely rich, and even the most cartoonish of them glow with a certain kind of truth, not to mention some incredible names. To honor Dickens on his 200th birthday, we’ve put together a list of what we consider to be the best of the great author’s many fantastic figures — click through to check out our choices, and do let us know if we’ve missed your favorite (because there are so many other favorites to be had) in the comments!
The Artful Dodger, Oliver Twist
The leader of Fagin’s gang of kid criminals, the Artful Dodger is a bombastic, raggedy Peter Pan figure, who is “as dirty a juvenile as one would wish to see” but with “all the airs and manners of a man.” All decked out in clothes much too large for him — not to mention that huge fantastic hat — “He was, altogether, as roystering and swaggering a young gentleman as ever stood four feet six, or something less, in the bluchers.” Managing to steal every scene (not to mention quite a few valuables), we totally wish we could run the streets with this one.