by Steven D. Greydanus, guest blogger
"Dickensian" is a word cropping up in reviews of the new animated film The Boxtrolls. Is The Boxtrolls "Dickensian"?
Partially. The town of Cheesebridge is full of nasty people akin to Dickens's rogue's gallery: a town full of Squeers, Quilps, Fagins, and Havishams.
But what about the other side of the ledger?
Dickens' societies are full of horrible nasty people, but also salt-of-the-earth decent people right in the mix: cheery Fezziwigs, Tapleys, Pickwicks, and Wellers. Without figures such as these, can a society truly be "Dickensian"?
It's true that the Boxtrolls themselves are gentle and decent. On the other hand, they're also outsiders, misfits, outcasts. That's not Dickens. Fezziwig and Pickwick are pillars of society, not outsiders or outcasts.
So I think it's fair to say that The Boxtrolls is misanthropic in a way that Dickens isn't.
P.S. Same goes for "Dahlian." Roald Dahl's stories made room for decent people right in the mix of society — for example, the shopkeeper who sold Charlie the chocolate bar with the golden ticket.
Steven D. Greydanus is film critic for the National Catholic Register, Catholic Digest, and Decent Films, the online home for his film writing.