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Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles


Though Dickens' Shakespearean qualities have often been noted, less attention has been paid to the way that Dickens constructed the terms of his comparison to Shakespeare, scripting the response he received from critics from the nineteenth century to the present and shaping Shakespeare's reception as well. Focusing on The Pickwick Papers and David Copperfield in the context of their Victorian reception, this essay shows how Dickens used Shakespearean quotation to market his characters' quotability, turning them into household words and popularizing Shakespeare's sayings in turn, even as he challenged the universality of quotable phrases.

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Accepted Version


This article is the author-created version that incorporates referee comments. It is the accepted-for-publication version. The content of this version may be identical to the published version or the version of record, save for value-added elements provided by the publisher.


Copyright © 2011 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in ELH, Volume 78, Issue 3, Fall, 2011, pages 533-556.

Original Citation

Daniel Pollack-Pelzner
Dickens and Shakespeare’s household words.
ELH, 2011, volume 78, issue 3, pages 533-556



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