Nicholas Nickleby begins with the family Nickleby who are left penniless and without hope following the death of Mr Nickleby. In their complete desperation they seek help from Uncle Ralph, a cruel, meanspirited man.
Nicholas displays an independant attitude that is quite heroic and good, and therefore is most displeasing to his Uncle. Nicholas must endure a long stay teaching at a school where bullies get off scot free and the victims must suffer. Mistreatment of the pupils is rife - that is until Nicholas arrives. After punishing a ruthless bully of a pupil Nicholas escapes to London, with Smike, one of those boys whom Nicholas protects.
In London, Nicholas continues to rage against the mistreatment of his family, and eventually is able to set up home for them. Uncle Ralph, hardly as genial as this moniker makes him seem, finally sees his comeuppance, but there is a sting in the tail as a well loved character dies. However, as the end of the play approaches, it feels as though a sense of justice has been achieved. Themes of class, poverty and fate collide in this tale, as Nicholas Nickleby truly discovers what it is like to stand up for what you believe in.