Well, certainly the book deserves more discussion. One thing you, Steven, said, and with which I agree, is that the book is basically humorless. Not that it is bad, and for sure, the whole story can't be very amusing, but yes, Dickens could find very funny characters and situations even in the middle of depressing stories. The main character is a good young man, determined to follow the rule and make it in life, and he deserved a better fate than the one he got. But as a literary character, he's not that likable. He's too righteous, too anti-social, too devoid of a humorous take on life.
The book definitely belongs in the category called "Naturalism" after Zola, the taking of Realism into the lowest and most sordid ways of life, the lives of the dispossesed, the hopeless, the marginal. No doubt that world deserves to be showed and depicted, it's everywhere even in the most prosperous cities. But it is depressing.
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