“When life gets difficult and we find ourselves in need of guidance, it’s often hard to know who to turn to. When friends can’t provide the answers to our dilemmas, sometimes we find ourselves turning to the great inspirational thinkers from past eras,” writes Constance Moore in her enchanting little book, What Would Dickens Do? Sitting between such enlightening tomes like What Would Jesus Do? and What Would Lincoln Do?, Moore’s book brings together the wisdom of some of his most popular characters, eschewing the creepy, nefarious types like Fagin, Sikes, Miss Havishman, and Wackford Squeers. Moore invites her readers on the pun-ultimate advise from Boz: “If you find yourself facing hard times, trying to deal with other people’s great expectations, or going home to a bleak house, look inside for words of comfort and guidance from one of the greatest writers of all time.” Here are some gems:
Should you take your work home?
“No; the office is one thing, and private life is another. When I go into the office, I leave the Castle behind me and when I come into the Castle, I leave the office behind me.” — Mr. Wemmick, Great Expectations
How much information should be taken on faith?
“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.” — Mr. Jaggers, Great Expectations
How can you live a worthwhile life?
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for any one else.” — John Rokesmith, Our Mutual Friend
What causes a person to ignore their moral compass?
“In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.” — Pip, Great Expectations
How can you live a noble life?
“Never be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices… and I can always be hopeful of you.” Betsy Trotwood, David Copperfield
How should one deal with hard times?
“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart.” — Sketches by Boz
For further reading: What Would Dickens Do by Constance Moore, Summersdale (2012)