Nicholas Nickleby is one of Dickens’ earliest works, is in the episodic and melodramatic style familiar from The Pickwick Papers, and was published serially 1838-9. It is the story of the Nicklebys (Nicholas, his mother and sister Kate) who have been left penniless by the death of Mr Nickleby. In their poverty and desperation they seek help from Nicholas’s uncle - the difficult and oppressive Ralph Nickleby who is a usurer. Nicholas immediately bothers his uncle due to his independent attitudes and is sent to Dotheboys Hall to teach. He witnesses the mistreatment of orphans there by Wackford Squeers. Disgusted by this and particularly the treatment of Smike, Nicholas thrashes the evil Squeers and escapes with the lad Smike who becomes his close comrade. Nicholas continues on his mission to end ill-treatment. He saves Kate from Sir Mulberry Hawk’s insults and makes a home for the family. Ralph gets his comeuppance eventually despite his continued evil and although Smike dies of consumption, there is a general sense of justice at the novel’s close.